Vaughn receives Game Changers honor for ‘Jackets for Jobs’

Detroit Tigers

DETROIT, Mich. — Alison Vaughn wanted to help more women in her community get jobs. But for those women to attend interviews they needed proper clothes, and to buy those clothes, they needed a job. There didn’t seem to be a solution for the cycle. So Vaughn created one.

Twenty-four years ago, Vaughn founded Jackets for Jobs. She saw a need in her community, but she was also inspired by her half-sister.

“She and I grew up totally different. I grew up attending private school and she grew up with hardly any education,” Vaughn said. “We hadn’t seen each other for about 20 years and when we reunited, she told me she was dying of cancer. Six months later, she died. When I was helping with the funeral arrangements, I learned she was on welfare. Our lives were so different, and I wanted to do something to give back to women who were on welfare, so people don’t have to go through this.”

Vaughn’s sister’s passing inspired her to start Jackets for Jobs in 2000 with a mission of helping women become self-sufficient. In 2007, TJ Maxx took notice and came calling. The company provided a $1 million investment for Jackets for Jobs, allowing Vaughn’s work to grow and include men’s clothing as well.

“A lot of them are single moms [with] two and three children. They have transportation issues trying to get to a job or a job interview,” Vaughn said. “They have childcare issues. They’re not able to go to work because of those situations. They have a lot of barriers to overcome.

“We like to be a resource. Clothing is one of the barriers, not having anything to wear for a job interview. So we provide the clothing and the job training, resume writing — helping them in that way. And then we provide them resources so they can buy childcare, transportation and all these other barriers that they have [in] getting their GED.”

Vaughn is the second 2024 Women’s History Month honoree of the Game Changers series, which celebrates community members making a profound difference in Detroit. In partnership with Comerica Bank, the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Tigers are recognizing one Game Changers honoree per week during select months throughout the year to receive a $1,000 grant dedicated to the charity of their choice.

“Alison Vaughn and the team at Jackets for Jobs have delivered life-changing training and resources to ensure thousands of residents achieve their career goals,” said Kevin Brown, Director of Community Impact for Ilitch Sports + Entertainment. “Inspired by her message of empowerment through thoughtful education and equitable access to work attire, we’re proud to celebrate Alison as a Game Changers honoree.”

Jackets for Jobs has helped more than 38,000 job seekers since its inception.

“I know I’m doing the right thing and I think that’s why it’s been able to sustain so long,” Vaughn said. “I’m all about helping women, because especially in Detroit — a lot of women are single moms and heads of households, so when you help the mother, you help the whole family. She becomes employed and her children can eat and go to school. That’s really rewarding to know that not only are we helping her, but the whole family.”

Vaughn said she’s honored to receive the Game Changers recognition and shares it with her whole team.

“They’re the ones that put in the hard work every day helping to clothe the clients and making sure everything is running smoothly,” Vaughn said. “This is also really special to me because Denise Ilitch has donated a lot to Jackets for Jobs and we’re working with Comerica Bank on an upcoming prom dress giveaway event. To receive this recognition from people and companies that I admire and look up to, it’s an honor.”

Jackets for Jobs currently has an exhibit at the Detroit Historical Museum called the Hustle Exhibit, showcasing entrepreneurs throughout the city. Vaughn’s display features a suit worn by each Detroit mayor over the last 24 years. The exhibit runs through the end of March.

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