Warnita Taylor uses the fashion runway to raise money for college students.
Taylor started the Dime Child Foundation 12 years ago when she was a student at DePaul University. She gathered some of her friends together and coordinated a fashion show fundraiser and awarded scholarships to students.
After Taylor graduated from college she helped develop programs and services for students who were preparing for college.
“Dime Child foundation is a place where talented kids get mixed with all the other children trying to make it in Chicago,” 16 year old, Sesheta McNutt and former student at Dime Child foundation said. McNutt attends Morgan Park High School. She attended because her brother was in it as well and her mom figured that they both can excel in the same program.
“I feel that if I didn’t have the program, I wouldn’t be where I am in life,” 19 year old Tristan Sims former student at Dime Child Foundation said. The program has provided not only an outlook on college but also to his personal life, according to Sims.
The fashion show was successful, Taylor said. They had about nine different scenes from Chicago designers. Each scene had a different theme like Business- “Men In Black,” casual wear- “Fun in the Sun,” Wedding, children’s clothing, etc. The music really highlighted the clothing and the attitudes of the models. High school and college students participated in the fashion show along with professional models. Everyone donated their time to raise money for Dime Child. The fashion show was a lot of fun but she wanted it to have a purpose, Taylor said.
“I realized that many students do not have the opportunity to go to college because of the lack of financial resources or information,” CEO and founder Taylor said.
Everyone prepared weeks leading up to the show and also assisted with selling tickets and advertisements. The fashion show was held at the Lexington House in Hickory Hills, Ill.
The first year they awarded $3,000 in scholarships. Since then they have given a total of about $15,000 in scholarships to students that need financial assistance to graduate from college. The fashion show was also a way for students to build the confidence, learn etiquette, enhance public speaking abilities and work in teams, according to Taylor.
The highlight of Taylor’s career is having a job that she actually enjoys and that she is passionate about, she said. She loves coming to work and helping others. She also loves to hear the success stories of the students who have gone on to college, are doing well and making a way for themselves. She helps first generation college students.
The mission of Dime Child Foundation is to provide educational resources and services to the youth to help ensure them hope for a promising future. The students normally participate in the program anywhere from three months to three years depending on the program that they participate in, according to Taylor.
Dime Child currently offers out-of-school time programming for more in the following programs: Mentoring Dimes, Upward Bound, WDCX Dime Child Radio, DCX Mag, Life Skills, Music Production and Photography. Each program has an intense college readiness component that ensures students receive the support needed to reach educational goals, according to dimechild.org.
Upward bound Dime Child is a program within the foundation and is a place for students to go when they don’t have no where else to go, they can just show up, and work to get a pay check at the end of the week.
The Carly Allen Scholarship, one of the fairly new scholarships, helps with the tuition and gives students financial assistance for being a part Upward Bound.
“It’s like being in a new school and trying to reconnect with different people including teachers or instructors,” said 17-year-old Elizabeth Bailey, who’s a senior at Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High school and former student at Dime Child.
Elizabeth attended the program because her friend Kanesha Toole. Kanesha’s parents told Elizabeth parents about the program. They figured that she would benefit from this program as a young lady.
The success of the foundation of Dime Child has generated millions of dollars to provide educational programs for youth. Dime Child is supported financially by local foundations, government agencies and individual donors. They partner with a host of organizations throughout Chicago, including public schools, community organizations, universities and corporations. They understand the importance of youth engagement. Their programs are structured to fit students’ personal needs with hands-on and interactive activities, according to Taylor.
Dime Child has a staff of 21 adults including full and part time staff as well as consultants. Annually, Dime Child supports over 400 youth and families with reaching their educational and personal goals. Dime Child also partners with a host of public and charter schools to support students.
The future plans for Dime Child foundation is to expand services to areas outside of Chicago to Georgia and help more youth in need.
“Seeing the impact of our services make me so thankful,” Taylor said.