Dress for Success Cincinnati recently celebrated our 20th anniversary. We used this momentous occasion to convene a joint committee of staff and board members over three full days working with a consultant, thanks to funding from the Harold C. Schott Foundation, to reflect on where we have been and where we want to go. Collectively we developed a campaign to fight poverty in our region for the next 20 years. The campaign’s three-pronged transformation plan includes a new location, a fund for the future, and a major gifts program.
But, then COVID-19 hit and millions of people across the country lost their jobs.
We braced ourselves for a dramatic increase in demand, as more and more women in our community were furloughed or became unemployed. We also paused to reflect and evaluate whether the transformation plan was still appropriate in this new context.
We’ve been watching the economic trends. We’ve been responding to growth in our virtual service offerings. And we’ve been paying attention to economic impact studies, like one by researchers at Northwestern University, the University of Mannheim in Germany and the University of California, San Diego. Their study estimates the impact of this pandemic will be especially difficult for women who are not only at higher-risk for job loss but will also bear the brunt of childcare while schools and daycares remain closed. And we remember what we saw during the 2008 recession, when the demand for our services doubled.
Taking all of this into consideration, we asked ourselves: “Should we move forward?”
Our answer was a resounding: “Yes, our community needs us more than ever!”
Now is the time for us to dream big together and ensure that the women of our community recover and experience increased opportunity for years to come!