Clothes The Deal: Dismantling Barriers to Employment

submission by ClothesTheDealLA

About Your Organization

Organization name(s):

Clothes The Deal

Organization website:

Organization Twitter handle:

Organization Facebook page:

Organization Instagram:

Describe your organization (check only one):

Nonprofit organization

For-profit organization



Please describe yourself (check only one):

Solo actor (just us on this project!)

Proposed collaboration (we want to work with partners!)

Collaboration (partners are signed up and ready to hit the ground running!)

In one sentence, please describe what your organization does.


Clothes The Deal empowers individuals to achieve economic self-sufficiency by collaborating with employment programs and providing resources

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.


The project will work with non-profit organizations to provide business attire and employment/vocational training to low-income job seekers.

Does your project impact Los Angeles County? Check only one.

Yes (benefits all of LA County)

Yes (benefits a region of LA County)

Yes (benefits a population of LA County)


Please write a sample tweet to describe your submission.


.@ClothesTheDeal builds a community in #LA that helps low income individuals gain and sustain employment #empowerment #community

Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit? Check all that apply.

Central LA

East LA

South LA

San Gabriel Valley

San Fernando Valley

South Bay



What is your idea/project in more detail?


By providing business clothes and pre-employment workshops to low-income individuals, Clothes The Deal gives clients parity when applying for competitive job opportunities. Clients who may be equally qualified with competing job applicants will lose job opportunities if they cannot present a professional image. Workshop services target those with little employment history and those that have spent long periods of time out of the workplace by focusing on professional image and business etiquette. The project would help Clothes the Deal expand services to the community in order to serve more people in need.

What will you do to implement this idea/project?


Clothes The Deal has established several collaborations. Partnering agencies that refer clients have provided needs assessments to estimate the number of clients needing services as well as funding available to cost match service expenses. Collaborating organizations involved in the project have also pledged to raise internal funding to sustain services after the project period ends. Clothes The Deal currently has two programs that we would like to expand: the Business Clothing Program and the Dress to Impress Workshops.

Business Clothing Program: Through a network of corporate clothing drives, donation drop-off locations, and donations directly from local manufacturers and retailers, Clothes The Deal collects ready-to-wear items for thousands of job ready clients. Clothes The Deal continually looks for new clothing drive sponsors by outreaching to local businesses and organizations throughout the LA community for clothing donations.

Dress To Impress Workshops: Workshops are designed to help educate and enhance the participant's self-esteem and professional image for job interviews. Topics include professional image, business etiquette, self-confidence, hygiene, skin and hair care. Workshops are interactive public forums for discussion of dress codes in various work environments. Workshops also address non-verbal and visual communication between coworkers/customers/clients, sample scenarios, problem solving situations and team building activities. Clothes The Deal makes it easy for participants to attend a workshop by bringing the clothing and services to them.

How will your idea/project help make LA the healthiest place to live today? In 2050?


The majority of Clothes the Deal’s clients have endured traumatic events resulting in psychological barriers. Common traumatic events include abuse, post traumatic stress, foster care, domestic violence, substance abuse, and mental health impairments. Clothes The Deal’s services and the care provided within the network of nonprofit organizations break down barriers to employment and provide a boost of self-confidence during critical moments of our clients’ lives.

Today, Clothes The Deal’s services help clients get back on their feet and gain employment by removing any barriers that may be in their way. Subsequently, our work will help decrease the number of people living on the streets and the number of families who live below the poverty threshold. In addition to higher living wages, clients served will ultimately achieve a higher quality of life for themselves and their families by obtaining health insurance, purchasing healthy foods, and providing/obtaining a quality education.

The more people that Clothes The Deal empowers today, the more community leaders we’ll have giving back to low-income communities tomorrow. By 2050, services will help reduce the number of disadvantages and barriers to employment faced by most low-income individuals. Clothes The Deal will also help more businesses and community organizations invest in their communities by hold clothing drives and volunteering. As a result of the project, Clothes The Deal envisions safer neighborhoods and a higher quality of life for families in low-income communities.

Whom will your project benefit? Please be specific.


Clothes The Deal serves low-income individuals in all of Los Angeles County. Men and women, old and young, people of all nationalities qualify for our services. The majority of our services are focused in communities with above average poverty and unemployment rates.

Clients must meet the following requirements:
1) Low-income (according to the Federal Health & Human Services poverty guidelines)
2) Currently unemployed
3) Enrolled in an employment program, vocational training or educational institution

Some of the clients that we have had and currently have include veterans, homeless individuals, at-risk youth, mentally or physically disabled individuals, those recovering from mental illness or substance abuse, and foster youth.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.


Over the past 19 years, Clothes The Deal has built partnerships with many programs and non-profits throughout the county. The majority of collaborating organizations are in need of Clothes The Deal’s services but do not have funding available for service expenses. Some of the partnering organizations include Community Career Development Center, Enki Mental Health Services, Friends Outside Los Angeles, L.A. Works, Children's Institute Inc., Puente Learning Center, The Salvation Army Bell Shelter, Single Room Occupancy Inc., Skid Row Development Corp, Substance Abuse Foundation, U.S. Veterans Initiative, Volunteers of America, Weingart Center, the Workforce Investment Board, and Youth Opportunity Movement Watts (YO WATTS).

Partners provide clients referrals and help with client intake procedures to ensure all clients are low-income and ready for employment. By partnering with employment and vocational agencies, services are provided to a diverse population of people coming from different backgrounds and cultures. A small percentage of collaborating partners will provide a cost match of percentage of service expenses during the project. All collaborating organizations have pledged to raise funding for service expenses once the project period ends.

Clothes the Deal also collaborates with the community and service leaders. A few examples of how we accomplish this:
1) Attend networking events focused on employment and vocational programs, including those hosted by POWER (Providing Opportunities with Essential Resources), LA United Job Creation Council and the Department of Mental Health Case Manager Meetings.
2) Build relationships with local businesses and organizations that in turn provide clothing donations and host clothing drives to generate donations for us.
3) Annually, we have about 40 volunteers serve a total of 5,550 hours. Volunteers include youth interns from youth employment programs such as YO Watts, community service volunteers, philanthropy groups, Temporary Subsidized Employees, and ReEmployability employees.

How will your project impact the LA2050 "LIVE" metrics?

Access to healthy food

Healthcare access

Exposure to air toxins

Number of households below the self-sufficiency standard

Percent of imported water

Obesity rates

Rates of homelessness

Walk/bike/transit score

Acres and miles of polluted waterways

Rates of mental illnesses

Prevalence of adverse childhood experience (Dream Metric)

Percentage of LA communities that are resilient (Dream Metric)

Percentage of residents receiving coordinated healthcare services (Dream Metric)

Percentage of tree canopy cover (Dream Metric)


If other, please specify.:

Employment Rates

Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.:

By providing business clothing and employment services, we arm low-income jobseekers with the tools necessary to obtain employment. We currently have a 65% success rate in participants obtaining employment after receiving clothing and/or attending one of our workshops. Though our primary goal is to empower individuals who may not have any hope of finding employment, ultimately we assist in decreasing the rate of unemployment in LA, which currently is higher than the national average. Through obtaining job security, some of our clients who were once homeless are able to subsequently obtain housing and other clients have risen out of the poverty threshold.

Please select which other LA2050 Goals are relevant to your project or organization (check all that apply):

LA is the best place to CREATE

LA is the best place to PLAY

LA is the best place to CONNECT

LA is the best place to LEARN

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.


Goal 1: Service to 1,200 low-income clients.
Method (of evaluation): Income verification documents (TANF Notice of Action, General Relief Notice of Action, SSI Notice of Action, 2 month pay stubs). Collaborating agencies will assist with supplying income documentation.

Goal 2: Job placement rates.
Method: Clothes The Deal will evaluate job placement from a field sample of 400 clients out of the 1,200 served from the project. Client database will be maintained and updated.

Goal 3: Increased employment opportunities.
Method: Pre and post service questionnaires will be collected and evaluated to measure changes in various success indicators. Workshop questionnaires will measure information retained from workshops.

Clothes The Deal will update evaluations with quarterly reports and a final end of project report. Clients served from the project will also have the opportunity to voluntarily provide written, audio and video testimonials to share their stories.

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?


This organization was founded by a student of UCLA Anderson School of Business in 1995 as part of a school project. She distributed needs assessments to different organizations around the county and found that many employment service based nonprofits reported the need of professional attire. This first lesson directly contributed to the creation of the organization.

From there, the founder did well securing grants in order to fund and sustain the organization for a couple of years. However, as the funds ran out, the organization slowed to a halt. Through these experiences, the importance of collaboration and partnerships was instilled. Clothes The Deal’s relationship with the LA County Office of Education and the newly appointed President helped get the organization back on its feet by reaching out to community members to contribute by volunteering, serving on board sub committees, and sponsoring clothing drives. More recently, primary donors have had prior relationships with members on our Board of Directors. From this, Clothes The Deal came to the realization that in order to grow and to be a sustainable organization, it is essential to continuously cultivate new relationships with local businesses, organizations and community members that have an interest in the organization's mission.

Explain how implementing your project within the next twelve months is an achievable goal.


Clothes The Deal has already established relationships and partnerships with employment related nonprofits and government agencies from different regions of Los Angeles County. This particular project is aimed at becoming a more sustainable resource for the city, serving a greater number of people in need as well as increasing the organization’s community outreach. The services provided by the project will allow collaborating organizations to raise internal funding for future services, while keeping current project services available. Project funding will also help Clothes The Deal increase its capacity by securing an additional vehicle to be utilized for the Dress to Impress Workshop program and obtain equipment needed to increase clothing inventory. The project will increase services to meet the service demand estimates from needs assessments and strengthen relationships with existing partners. Existing resources and partnerships make project goals achievable over the next 12 months.

Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?


1) Maintaining an inventory of plus size (XL) clothing will be difficult. Clothes The Deal’s fund-development team has made plus size clothing donations a priority. The majority of donated clothing are small to large sized items. Based on clothing requests and needs assessments, 50% of clients served from the project will require plus size clothing.

To solve the plus size clothing problem, Clothes The Deal is focusing on clothing drives from plus size clothing retailers, weight lose & fitness centers, local athletic teams, and other sources of plus size clothing donations.

2) Sustaining funding for project services after project period ends will be a challenge. The majority of clients served from the project will be referred from sixteen major partnering organizations. Organizations that have secured funding for project services include SRO Housing Corp, the U.S. Veterans Initiative, and Youth Opportunity Movement Watts. The stated organizations will be able to cost match 50%-90% of service expenses for their client referrals during the project period and are confident they will be able to provide 100% of service expenses for their clients after the project period ends.
The remaining partners have pledged to raise internal funding to provide cost match funding up to 5% during the project, and up to 33% after the project. Project funding will help bridge the gap of service funding needed from collaborating organizations. Project services will be sustained after the project period ends, while the need of supplemental grant funding will decrease.

To offset the challenge sustaining funding after the project period ends, collaborating organizations have pledged to look into various fund-raising efforts including in-kind donations of clothing drives, warehouse space, & display equipment to offset some of the direct expenses related to service expenses. Clothes The Deal’s goal is to sustain services with collaborating organizations providing 80% of service income after the project period ends.

What resources does your project need? (check all that apply)

Money (financial capital)

Volunteers/staff (human capital)

Publicity/awareness (social capital)

Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)


Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)

Community outreach

Network/relationship support

Quality improvement research

8 Pink talk bubble tail c96b4a07ef1417e25d0bcf5c4cba4766b8bbf0382f07677990a9d5577885d4d7

Good luck, I always donated my clothes to you guys

by miggy2000
over 1 year ago

I work with a lot of people that have come to rely on Clothes The Deal's services. Good Luck Clothes The Deal.

by rastachaka
over 1 year ago

Great service, and couldn't be a better location for it than Los Angeles. This city really places an emphasis on physical appearance.

by suckitblue
over 1 year ago

Clothes The Deal helped me out. The experience was incredible. Growing up, I had never owned anything nice. I had access to donated clothing, but nothing fit right, and I was rarely able to select anything. I had to take what was available. I remember being able to select my own outfit from Clothes The Deal. One of the best moments during a dark period of my life.

Good luck Clothes The Deal!

by joaniepants
over 1 year ago

Great idea, and important service to help keep job opportunities available to low-income individuals

by marybeth123
over 1 year ago

Need more organizations like Clothes The Deal. Continue your great work.

-LAOIC Family.

over 1 year ago

Doing work!!! Moved up 25 ranks in one day!! :D

by jdotle
over 1 year ago

Clothes The Deal is an awesome organization that empowers the unemployed to become self-sufficient.

by bbrusavich
over 1 year ago

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Submission Began
Tuesday, July 01, 2014

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Thursday, July 31, 2014
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Winner Announced
Tuesday, September 30, 2014