How Career Wardrobe’s expansion to Philly's suburbs will increase its efficiency - Generocity Philly

Method

Apr. 1, 2016 10:05 am

How Career Wardrobe’s expansion to Philly’s suburbs will increase its efficiency

Through the nonprofit, the state will be better able to track its PA WORKWEAR program’s effectiveness. That’s good news for low-income individuals on the track to employment.

Career Wardrobe provides professional clothing and services to individuals re-entering the workforce.

(Photo by Jeff Holder)

How can a government program be exercised to its fullest potential and make the biggest impact on the constituents it aims to serve?

It’s a question Career Wardrobe will be answering soon.

The 19th and Spring Garden-based organization provides free or low-cost professional clothing and related services to women and men re-entering the workforce from unemployment. What began 21 years ago with the help of volunteers in a home basement has since grown to 15 staff members serving almost 3,200 individuals in Philadelphia, according to Executive Director Sheri Cole.

The nonprofit — which also considers itself a social enterprise because it earns about 40 percent of its income from the resale shop it opened six years ago — was recently selected by the state to operate its PA WORKWEAR program in Southeast Pennsylvania. Career Wardrobe will receive an increase in state funding to expand its work in Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties.

WORKWEAR is funded by the state Department of Human Services. It offers contracts to independent agencies throughout the state to provide professional training and employment attire — the lack of which is often “a barrier to employment” — in their counties, Cole said. Career Wardrobe was one of two Philadelphia-based agencies.

When Gov. Tom Wolf took office, his administration requested proposals for organizations to run the WORKWEAR program throughout the Commonwealth, and Career Wardrobe submitted an application to run it in Philadelphia.

"We knew we could help the government achieve some economy of scale."
Sheri Cole

“We knew we could help the government achieve some economy of scale,” Cole said.

The state asked if it could expand to other counties, too. WORKWEAR providers throughout Southeastern PA will now work under Career Wardrobe’s administrative support.

From our Partners

Career Wardrobe isn’t “taking over” any existing agencies, Cole said. Rather, its new oversight will allow it to track each agency’s results — numbers such as how many clients get jobs using skills they learn through their programs, for instance — that many agencies themselves don’t have the resources to track, especially the smaller, volunteer-led ones.

“We measure their outcomes,” Cole said. “We can provide statistics back to the state about what’s happening to the women we serve and who they are.”

This information will inform the government on what’s needed to grow the WORKWEAR program and how it can improve, she said.

The expansion will allow Career Wardrobe to serve 7,000 individuals, mostly in Philly, according to Cole. Altogether, only about 1,500 individuals are currently served by WORKWEAR in the other southeastern counties. This number doesn’t include the full population of everyone who could access it, though.

“We believe that there’s a disconnect between the people being served by this contract and [the total amount of people who need it],” she said.

Of 6,200 individuals in Chester who are eligible for cash assistance through the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, which requires the recipient to be a primary caregiver, only 440 were seen through WORKWEAR — about seven percent — whereas Philadelphia’s WORKWEAR program is seeing more like 30 percent of the TANF population, according to Cole.

Career Wardrobe will work to improve both those percentages by marketing its services not only through the agencies providing WORKWEAR services, but to all individuals receiving assistance through public organizations such as the state’s Employment, Advancement and Retention Network.

-30-
LEAVE A COMMENT

From our Partners

Uprising in Philadelphia: A to-do list for the next six months

Generocity.org is launching a year-long reporting project on a ‘more just recovery’

INTER/VIEW 2020 on July 22 is now virtual and a featured PTW20 Virtual event

SPONSORED

Generocity Philly

Motivadas y ambiciosas: Estas estudiantes de Kensington Health Sciences Academy están listas para el futuro

Philadelphia

The National Liberty Museum

Director of Learning & Public Engagement

Apply Now
3300 Henry Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19129

Public Health Management Corporation

Clinical Supervisor

Apply Now
Philadelphia

Public Health Management Corporation

Special Education Teacher

Apply Now

Former and current Penn students launch ‘I Lost My Job To Coronavirus’ website

On the market: 46 nonprofit opportunities to fuel your excitement

The time is now to break all the rules and reshape the nonprofit sector

SPONSORED

Generocity Philly

Driven and ambitious: Kensington Health Sciences Academy students ready themselves for the future

Philadelphia

Public Health Management Corporation

CUA CASE MANAGER

Apply Now
Philadelphia

Public Health Management Corporation

Psychiatrist

Apply Now
3300 Henry Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19129

Public Health Management Corporation

PT Behavioral Health Technician

Apply Now

Sign-up for daily news updates from Generocity