When Michael White was growing up, he spent his after school hours playing basketball and hanging out with other kids at the East Oakland Youth Development Center

He felt inspired by the older folks who, having also grown up partially in EOYDC's halls, would come to spend time with and give back to the youth there – and made a promise to himself that when he was finished with college, he would do the same thing.

Now 29, White's promise to himself has come true with the creation of the “Dress for Success” program, which will be held for the second time annually from 10 a.m. to 2
p.m. this Saturday, April 27, at the East Oakland Youth Development Center, 8200 International Blvd, Oakland. 

Through a combination of speakers, workshops and personal styling, Dress for Success helps youth learn how to carry and present themselves in various business settings.

“I love fashion and know it plays a major role in the business world,” White said. “It saddens me to see so many kids these days dress so inappropriately. I did some thinking and realized that I really wanted to give back to EOYDC and the community as a whole and the best way I could do it was through a Dress for Success Program.”

White pitched his ideas to executives at EOYDC and friends and the positive feedback was immediate and powerful.

Although for the first Dress for Success program, White had planned to have only two workshops and 10 youth participants, word spread about the program and it became so popular it grew to four workshops and 50 participants. This year, Dress for Success will be co-ed (last year it was targeted at young men) and will feature speakers Bryan Parker, the Vice Present of Team Genesis at DaVita, Inc., and Soraya Wright, the Vice President of Global Risk Management at Clorox, as well as a workshop on financial literacy.

“Bryan Wright and Soraya Parker are by the far the best speakers we could have asked for,” White said. “They are both very powerful individuals in the community and they both care about the youth and the upcoming generation very much.”

White explained that Dress for Success is a crucial resource because of the times we live in – times where it is hard for anyone to get a job and even harder for minorities.

“We have to work hard to overcome our disadvantages. First impression is very important and I feel the youth of the community create unnecessary disadvantages for themselves by how they dress,” he said. “If you dress like a thug, the first thing people are going to think is that you are a thug.”

White said he eventually hopes to take Dress for Success to different cities and establishing it as a nonprofit.

“It started as a way to simply give back to the community that has given me so much, and it blossomed into a magical program,” he said.

For questions or to learn how to get involved, contact Michael White at mike_white321@yahoo.com or (510) 798-0480.

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