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The mission of Bottomless Closet is to support women in transition by providing business professional clothing, career skills and image coaching, empowering them to interview with confidence, gain employment and achieve economic self-sufficiency.
Bottomless Closet is a 501 (c) 3 tax-exempt organization and has the distinction of being the first workforce agency of its kind in the United States.
Laurel Baer, Anne Jenkins, Donna Paulino, Mary Ann Moloney and Lynda Wright- five Chicago business women - founded the non-profit organization in 1991 in response to the compelling need for services to increase the potential of women on assistance and to help them achieve economic self-sufficiency.
Their inspiration came from Lynda Wright a former "welfare" recipient who told her story on a local radio station. Lynda had drained what little financial resources were available to her through public aid on rent, food and clothes for her children. What remained was barely enough for a round trip to a job interview never mind buying suitable interview outfits!
The founding mission of Bottomless Closet was "to elevate the employment potential and marketability of women welfare recipients who want to work. It will provide clothing, at no charge, to women on assistance who don't have suitable clothing to wear to a job interview". Bottomless Closet Inc. opened its doors for business on June 1, 1991.
"Closet Gives New Hope To Women" wrote the Chicago Tribune in its June 13 1991 issue.
Little has changed for Bottomless Closet over the last 20 years or so. The need for our services has grown and Bottomless Closet has retained its reputation of care and attention to women who strive to achieve economic independence.
- Bottomless Closet was the first workforce development organization of its kind in the United States.
- In past years Bottomless Closet could claim that 65% of the women who passed through our program were able to find work. Those numbers have declined due to the recession in the past two years.
- 84% of our clients are single heads of household - so we help not only the mothers but the children who depend on them.
- 94 % of our clients come from traditionally underserved communities
- More than 285,000 items have been given to our clients over the past 19 years
- More than 22,000 individual women from very diverse backgrounds were helped in the last 19 years.
- 94% of our clients are very satisfied with our services and told us their confidence had increased after working with Bottomless Closet.
- We pride ourselves on our one-on-one coaching of our clients in image consultation.