2017 marks the 20th anniversary of Dress for Success. To celebrate this milestone, the international not-for-profit is kicking off the Dress for Success #OpenDoorProject, its first global social movement to empower women.

Video: #OpenDoorProject

Founded by second-year law student Nancy Lublin in the basement of a Harlem church in 1997, Dress for Success began as an organization providing suitings to help outfit women for career opportunities. Two decades later, Dress for Success has grown to include a strong network of 145 affiliates in 23 countries and a broad range of programs – from job training to financial education – to help fulfill its mission of empowering women to achieve economic independence.

To commemorate 20 years and one million women served, Dress for Success officially launches its #OpenDoorProject today.

Women around the world can join the movement by posting a photo of their shoe holding a door open, or a photo of themselves propping a door open with a shoe. (The type of shoe used in posts can be any shoe that symbolizes the steps these women have taken toward professional success, or one that is unique or representative of them.) In post captions, participants will thank the woman – or women – who opened the door to their success as well as ask them to help spread support for the cause by creating their own Open Door post and tagging it with @dressforsuccess and the hashtag #OpenDoorProject.

The hope is that this simple, beautiful and creative concept will become a universally embraced – and universally shared – symbol of female empowerment. Through these posts, the #OpenDoorProject aims to spread the spirit of gratitude while strengthening the world’s pledge to invest in women’s successes.

The #OpenDoorProject has already attracted the support of influencers such as: global fashion icons Tory Burch and Rebecca Minkoff; singer and eyewear designer Lisa Loeb; Bloomberg TV anchor Betty Liu; fashion influencer and model Natalie Suarez; TV personality and former The Bachelorette star Andi Dorfman; founder of Tai Life Media and fashion influencer Tai Beauchamp; Good Housekeeping Editor-in-Chief Jane Francisco; and Thai Lee, CEO of SHI International, the largest, female-owned company in the United States.

Said Dress for Success Worldwide CEO Joi Gordon: “This movement reminds us that the creation of a better world ultimately relies on simple acts of kindness and a belief that happens at the grassroots level, with and among people committed to achieving extraordinary things.”

She continued: “Today, more than ever, women need to reach down and lift other women up. What makes us successful is that we recognize we are in this together, that it’s important for all of us to achieve whatever success we are striving for. Women helping and appreciating each other – that is what makes us powerful.”

Dress for Success worked with the New York office of FCB, an Interpublic Group global, fully integrated marketing communications company, on the #OpenDoorProject launch.

Said FCB New York CEO Karyn Rockwell: “Dress for Success has been dedicated to empowering women for 20 years. Now, with the Open Door Project, Dress for Success is providing a global, give-back platform that encourages all women to thank those who opened the door for them. Our hope is that the ripple effect of the Open Door Project will provide inspiration for all women to be strong and open the door for others.”

Dress for Success has also created a website, www.dfsopendoorproject.org, where people can learn more about the movement and donate to help empower the next generation of women.

The #OpenDoorProject is timed to launch the day before the Dress for Success annual gala to celebrate its anniversary. This year’s ceremony is sponsored by Verizon, FedEx and AOL’s Makers series. The event takes place at 6:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, April 5 at Cipriani on Wall Street in NYC.

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