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Funding Secured for Dress for Success Workforce-development Program

SPRINGFIELD — State Sen. Eric Lesser recently joined state Sen. Adam Gomez, state Reps. Carlos Gonzalez and Orlando Ramos, and Margaret Tantillo, executive director of Dress for Success Western Massachusetts, to announce $25,000 in funding for the organization’s workforce-development program. As lead budget sponsor, Lesser secured this earmark in the FY22 budget that was passed by the Senate and House and signed into law by Gov. Charlie Baker in July.

Dress for Success’ workforce-development programs and services improve the employability, employment placement, and self-sufficiency of women who are unemployed and seeking to enter or re-enter the workforce.

“The pandemic has had a massive economic impact on women, and in particular, women of color. This past year, female workforce participation dropped to 56% — the lowest it’s been in over 30 years,” Lesser said. “Dress for Success Western Mass. helps women prepare for interviews, outfits them in professional attire, trains in digital literacy, and develops soft skills — things that we take for granted. The demand has never been greater. This funding will help them continue their mission, a mission that has never been more urgent.”

This funding will aid workforce-development programs that include employment suitings to provide applicants and newly employed women with professional attire; career-coaching and digital-mentoring programs that are designed to bridge access and knowledge gaps for each individual woman served based on her specific needs and obstacles preventing her from joining the workforce; and workforce-readiness curriculum that includes soft-skill development, professional and personal brand, social-media presence, task management and goal setting, interviewing techniques, and more.

“Dress for Success helps women in our community who are unemployed or looking to enter or re-enter the workforce. Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve shifted to a virtual format and added innovative ways to help our women gain access to technology and connectivity so they can succeed in our new digital world,” Tantillo said. “We are grateful for Senator Lesser’s continued support and for championing our women and helping to secure state funding to support our programs.”

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