Catie’s Closet

Catie’s Closet improves students’ school attendance, emotional well-being, grade progression, and ultimately graduation rates by providing in-school access to clothing and basic necessities to students who are homeless, living in poverty or low income. The impact is immediate. Feeling more like all the other kids, students gain confidence and are better able to focus on school. The Catie’s Closet business model is a low-cost, highly effective, community-engaged initiative. School administrators report that Catie’s Closet has been the catalyst for improving many elements and services that public schools offer. Before a student can participate in any programs designed to support disadvantaged youth, they first must be in school and Catie’s Closet does a great job of helping our kids feel hopeful about coming to school.

The Catie’s Closet model is uniquely effective:

SIMPLE, IMMEDIATE, DISCREET: Students can be self-conscious about asking for help. School staff know which children are in need, and they bring the children into the closet. Catie’s Closet has no other litmus test and does not limit the number of items or visit frequency. A child in need can discreetly walk into his/her school’s Closet and be outfitted for the day.

BROAD-BASED: Our model can reach an entire school system. Catie’s Closet is a broad-based initiative that can help improve the effectiveness of many school-specific initiatives.

AGENCY: Clothing is aesthetically arranged by size and type. Children are encouraged to “shop” for themselves. We are vigilant about placing current, age-appropriate styles in Closets. This helps children “fit in.”

RELATIONAL: School administrators report that Catie’s Closet helps them establish stronger relationships with students. Providing a tangible and respectful solution serves as a platform for engaging students, helping to identify other needs, and making them feel like they belong in school.

INEXPENSIVE: Most of our items are donated. Volunteers support us by hosting drives, sorting donations, and managing our closets. Much of our inventory is kept in school closets; because of this, one small distribution center can serve thousands of children.

A child missing school because she doesn’t have enough clothes or basic necessities, such as deodorant or feminine products, is a tragedy that can have lifelong consequences. Our simple, proven approach is helping to change this. By offering low-income students basic necessities and fashion-forward clothing that kids are proud to wear, Catie’s Closet helps boost their confidence and keep them in school. And because we provide these resources right in school, eliminating bureaucracy and red tape, this intervention is fast, effective, and inexpensive. Catie’s Closet is currently operating 73 schools serving 42,000 students.

This is Hestia’s third year funding Catie’s Closet. Hestia’s grant of $25,000 will support the district-wide expansion into Boston Public Schools.