WFO'S 25TH ANNIVERSARY
This summer, Wardrobe for Opportunity (WFO) is celebrating 25 years of serving the community. WFO was established in 1995 to assist low-income women to look professional and obtain employment. Now, WFO offers plenty of career development programs to help all members of the community in need, from those unemployed and looking for jobs to those employed and looking to establish long-term careers. To celebrate WFO’s successful 25 years in helping the community, let’s take a deeper dive into WFO’s programs and how WFO has evolved over the years.
WFO was founded by Jeri Foster, who opened a small space in Walnut Creek 25 years ago in order to help low-income women in the Bay Area get jobs and build confidence by helping them dress professionally. Six years later, WFO launched its first of three Core Programs, Accelerate, a program focused on job retention and self-empowerment in the workplace. The other two Core Programs, Catapult and Navigate, were started in 2009 and 2019, respectively. The Catapult program targets those who are already employed and emphasizes long-term career planning, whereas the Navigate program is for those who are unemployed and focuses on giving them the skills needed to land a job.
Almost 10 years after the organization was founded, WFO moved its main office to downtown Oakland and started its men's program, widening WFO's audience and allowing the organization to serve more of the community. In 2006, WFO hosted its first public sale, where clients and members of the public could purchase boutique office clothing at heavily discounted prices. That same year, WFO offered the first of many supplemental programs, the Professional Image Workshop. This workshop helps clients dress appropriately for new jobs or interviews, as well as project professionalism in how they present themselves. Other supplemental programs later offered include a Mock Interview Workshop, a Financial Literacy Workshop, and our latest program, the Steps to Stability pop-up boutique. Steps to Stability, first introduced in 2018, is a 3-in-1 service that combines career development, professional attire, and networking skills into one event.
To date, WFO has assisted over 30,000 low-income individuals and developed over 40 partnerships during its 25-year history. Even as the global pandemic has forced much of the Bay Area to shut down, WFO continues to offer its programs remotely to help the community in this time of need. Check out wardrobe.org to see a full list of upcoming programs, as well as to donate to help Wardrobe for Opportunity serve the community for another 25 wonderful years.