Growing up she wanted to help people, but her friends were convinced she’d end up working in the fashion industry in a big city. Now, she’s doing all three.
Jada C. recently started a new job at Dress For Success, an Indianapolis nonprofit that empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help them thrive in work and life.
Jada connected with Jeronna Bolden, the organization’s Director of Programs, during the Indiana Youth Advisory Board’s 7th Annual Youth Conference this past June. The conference is an event designed by IYAB members that provides resources, education, and tools to young people transitioning out of foster care across the state of Indiana.
She has participated in a variety of Foster Success programs, most notably ETV during her four years at IUPUI, where she earned a Bachelor of Social Work degree. She was also part of the first Catalyst group, and is currently participating in Opportunity Passport.
“Foster Success helped me (remove) that financial barrier … Having their support to lean on, especially when you don’t have other folks to lean on, means a lot,” Jada said.
Jada made such an impression on Jeronna during the conference, she invited her to brunch, where she offered her a job as the new Style For Success Program Manager at Dress For Success.
“I’m a big believer that it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know. So I always try to go into a big event knowing I want to meet somebody new, as a connection or a resource,” Jada said. “We got to talking about the things I want to do in the future and what she wants to do and we just clicked really fast.”
For Jeronna, it was the perfect fit.
“Her confidence and personal story. Knowing she has been a DFSI client stood out, and her understanding of our cliental along with her social work (background) made her a fierce competitor for her Style for Success program,” Jeronna said. “She will bring a targeted audience of Generation Z to our program (with) her ability to provide individualized service to our diverse cliental base and bridge new relationships.”
For Jada, working at Dress For Success is a full-circle moment. The 23-year-old, who entered the state’s foster care system at 16, turned to Dress For Success in 2017 when she needed professional attire for her first job at the JW Marriott. She continued to receive clothing from them through her time at the Department of Child Services (DCS), her most recent job.
“(At Dress For Success), we have women who come in from halfway houses, a personal referral, a service referral from an agency they’re working with, or even people off the street, and we help get them clothing for that first job interview,” Jada said. “Once they get the job, they can come back for a work-wear appointment and get involved with Professional Women’s Group (PWG) – a really good support group.”
The most recent IYAB conference wasn’t her first. She helped plan them in the past, and had attended several. She encourages everyone between the ages of 14 and 26 who have spent at least one day in foster care to take part.
“You never know what kind of stuff you’re going to gain or learn at the conference. The (breakout sessions) are always great. There are a lot of different resources, especially if you’re thinking about going to college,” Jada said. “You never know who you’re going to run into.”
A chance encounter during a Foster Success event led her to this exciting new opportunity.