We can’t find statistics on the number of girls who don’t go to their high school proms every year because they can’t afford a prom dress and the shoes and accessories needed to put on a good show on the big night out. But we all know it’s more than a few.
With prom season 2015 nearly over, we wanted to take this opportunity to give a shout out to all of the Junior Leagues that have prom-related initiatives. While we know there are many other non-League programs out there – including the national Cinderella’s Closet movement – what’s interesting about many Junior League programs is the innovations made to the basic formula.
Not every program is designed for the classic senior prom.
For example, the Junior League of Birmingham partners with the Exceptional Foundation to host a prom for special needs young adults who might otherwise never go to a prom. JLB has supported the Exceptional Foundation through a variety of programs, including sports camps, arts & crafts, cooking, exercise and parties and dances.
Meanwhile, the Junior League of Oklahoma City’s Prom Night at The Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center hosts a prom night for pre-teen and teen patients, including full prom attire for all participants. (The hospital views this as an important social activity that helps combat the depression, anxiety, and withdrawal from social experiences that compound the health challenges these children face.)
Looking to serve another underserved and often ignored group of youth, the Junior League of Lincoln’s Prom Closet is a one-day event created to benefit Foster CARE Closet, a Nebraska nonprofit that seeks to show hope and build self-esteem for the youth in the state’s foster care system by providing quality clothing at no cost to them or those caring for them. The donated, cleaned prom dresses are offered to the public for $20, which also includes shoes and accessories. Proceeds provide clothing and other necessities for kids entering or in the foster system.
Because the need goes beyond one night a year, the Junior League of Westchester on the Sound hosts its annual Girl-Topia in a private boutique setting that, last year, offered more than 4,500 new and donated clothing items – including prom dresses as well as casual clothing, outerwear and accessories – free of charge to more than 150 teen girls in financial need. The one-day event is held in the fall in conjunction with Family Services of Westchester’s The Sharing Shelf.
The Junior League of Brooklyn’s Belle & Beau of the Prom program combines an annual dress drive and scholarship program. Last year, in conjunction with the Brooklyn Prom and Scholarship Project, JLB raised more than $11,000 for scholarships while providing access to prom attire for girls. The program culminates with a Day of Beauty: a dress and accessories giveaway with mini style makeovers and presentation of the scholarship awards. In collaboration with the Kappa Beta Sigma chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., the program was expanded this year to include young men in the clothing giveaway.
And finally, the Junior League of Moore County’s Project Prom ties participation in the program to school performance. In addition to personal and financial hardships, the League requires “references” from high school guidance counselors that the young women also attend their classes, are involved in school activities, and are concerned about their grades.
Same idea, Different approaches. Great results!