CHA, Project Embrace help to make prom a reality for high school teens

May 9, 2019

Press contacts:
Office of Communications – Chicago Housing Authority
Molly Sullivan: (312) 786-3344;
Matthew Aguilar: (312) 935-2646;

CHICAGO (May 9, 2019): More than 50 young women recently received dresses at the Little Village Boys and Girls Club - along with a variety of shoes and accessories - as the Chicago Housing Authority partnered with non-profit Project Embrace to provide prom outfits for low-income high school students.

The staff at CHA contributed a total of 155 dresses, two pairs of shoes and 10 accessories. The items were free of charge for the excited teenagers.

Project Embrace seeks to help Chicago area girls with the financial burden of attending prom.

Project Embrace founder Juana Ballesteros said: " I am so happy at the outpouring of support the project received from CHA employees. From the volunteer employees to the donations of dresses and accessories. Thanks to CHA, we had another successful event and we made so many girls prom-ready and no cost to them or their families."

High School senior Taylor Givens, who lives in CHA, said she wasn’t previously very excited about prom.

“But seeing these pretty dresses is making me get excited,” she said. “I wasn't expecting so many options."

Her sister, Yesenia Givens, agreed.

"This is so awesome and completely unexpected," she said. "AND we get to have two dresses - a formal and casual dress too?!"

Employees from CHA’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion volunteered in setting up the gym =and with assisting prom “shoppers.”

The event hit home for CHA employee YaQuavia Gooden, who said she personally knows how expensive a prom can be for a young woman.

"To see every young lady walk out with a dress, shoes and other accessories warmed my heart," Gooden said. "Especially knowing that they won't have that extra financial stress trying to find a dress. And it helped that the dresses were gorgeous."

CHA employee Jessica Barnes agreed:

“The thing that stood out the most to me was seeing young women’s faces light up when they found their perfect dress,” she said. “In return, that made me light up, too.”

Louise Smith, also a CHA employee, said: "This was an awesome experience. I am glad I had an opportunity to participate with Project Embrace. It was great serving the young ladies and seeing how excited and appreciative they were when they were shopping. I will definitely do it again."