We are pleased to announce a new YAC grant to The Closet by A Beautiful Me for the addition of a part-time employee.
YAC Vice President Zac Kerhoulas said they chose the grant “because of the opportunities it brings to young women in our community. We recognized the lack of female leaders in the workplace and decided that needed to change and we hope that by helping A Beautiful Me with their mission, we will be one step closer to creating that change.”
Opened in 2019, The Closet is a social enterprise retail store that functions as a training space for teenage girls. It was started as a way to continue to connect the participants of A Beautiful Me’s self-esteem and leadership workshops. Since its founding in 2008, A Beautiful Me has reached over 9,000 girls throughout southeast Michigan through workshops, programs and events- focused primarily on 5th grade girls. The Closet provides an avenue for continued support and connection for these girls as they move into their teen years. Through the sale of one-of-a-kind dresses and accessories, The Closet offers business, entrepreneurship, philanthropy and leadership skills through training and mentoring.
The $4,500 grant from YAC will go toward funding the cost of an additional part-time mentor/sales associate allowing The Closet to double the number of youth supported in the program. With a new staff member to help run the store, other mentors are freed up to train the girls in the other components of the program, particularly those off-site.
“We’re so excited to be supported by the Foundation, specifically by YAC,” said A Beautiful Me Founder Karen Palka. “I’m in awe and encouraged by the peer-to-peer support because we know that the earlier we can teach this to our youth, the more they’re apt to support one another as adults in our community.”
The educational component of the program, Emerge 360, will be broken down into three business certification levels 101, 201 and 301, that participants will work their way through. They will incorporate business training, philanthropy education and social enterprise. Through the hands-on learning in the store participants are trained in basic business skills, financial management, and customer service. As they progress through their training they will be exposed to more advanced aspects of business and leadership.
Perhaps the most influential part of the program though, is the relationships built by the young women with their mentors as well as other local women leaders in the community. With the key mission of A Beautiful Me being building self-esteem and leadership in girls, the mentors play a vital role in investing in the teens’ development. And the impact has been noticeable in the participants’ transformations.
Palka said one such transformation was youth volunteer Grace Smith, who would hardly even make eye contact in her interview for the volunteer position at The Closet.
“Before I was working at The Closet, I was so shy talking to people,” said Smith. “But then after a couple weeks of volunteering, I could talk to people more than I could before. Volunteering at The Closet is a great way to learn and experience new things in life.”
Palka said now after a few months in the program Grace is visibly growing in confidence and poise and even shines in promotional videos for the store.
“We’re so thankful for the support of this grant to be able to continue investing in girls like Grace,” said Palka “to further our training and mentoring and help build up more confident female leaders in our community.”
To learn more about The Closet by A Beautiful Me visit over1000dresses.com