LER students have taken on an impressive fundraising initiative that we’d like to share with our alumni and friends. We were approached by a group of student leaders to help them launch the First Impression Equity Opportunity Project, which aims to assist low-income students to attain professional attire as they prepare to make one of the most important first impressions of their personal and professional lives. 

This initiative has the support of the LER leadership team and we’re honored to share it with you. To support their initiative, you can make a gift of support to the LER Emergency Fund here or you can visit their GoFundMe page here. Gifts made through the GoFundMe are not tax-deductible. Gifts through LER and the University of Illinois Foundation, however, are tax-deductible and available for your matching gift programs.

From the the student leaders of the First Impression Equity Opportunity campaign:

First impressions count. For better or worse, how we present ourselves the first time we meet anyone – including job recruiters – sets the tone for the rest of the interaction. For incoming LER students – the opportunity should be equal – as each incoming student comes with strong academic credentials, experiences, and skills that were needed to be admitted. Yet, we do not all come in with the same ability to obtain the professional clothing that contributes to that important visual first impression.  Add to that the fact that for many, not worrying about your attire reduces anxiety and adds to each candidate’s confidence.  

Within the first three days at LER, students need to dress professionally for headshots used in recruitment and employer presentations. Each student attends 2-6 informational and networking sessions a week in the following months. These information sessions, job fairs, and interviews require students to show up continually at their mental and professionally-attired best. Many students receive scholarships, but these funds are quickly used for tuition, fees, and the many other immediate costs (books, lodging, etc.). It would be disheartening to be overlooked based on clothing when candidates have so much to offer.

It is clear that there is an opportunity to set a true level playing field for the highly competitive and intense internship recruitment programs.

The First Impression Equity Opportunity Project aims to address this professional attire clothing accessibility gap. This fund allocates money for low-income students to purchase clothing needed to succeed at LER as a student and human resources professional. It would assist students in achieving their present and future career goals. It also helps LER by ensuring that they can recruit top talent and present that talent successfully to employers.

This fundraiser is LER student-driven and has the full support of the LER Leadership team. The Project’s Student Committee collaborates with LER’s Director of Advancement and Alumni Relations, Cory Hatfield, to ensure the funds allocated are monitored, tracked, and awarded properly. 

Q: Doesn’t the career center have a closet for professional clothes?
A: Unfortunately, that was discontinued.

Q: How much will be given to students?
A: Our goal is to support up to seven students per year with a gift of $150 to purchase one full business professional outfit.

Q: How will you know that the gifts are used for clothing?
A: Gift recipient students will be required to provide receipts for their purchases within a specific timeframe.

Q: How will you decide who gets the money?
A: There is an application process that was developed by LER leadership and the First Impression Student Committee. It includes application form, and careful review process. LER Leadership will make the gift decisions to ensure confidentiality and privacy for all applicants.

Q: Is my donation tax-deductible?
A:  Gifts made through this particular GoFundMe fundraiser are NOT tax deductible. If you are seeking a tax deductible option, gifts may be made directly through LER and the University of Illinois Foundation by visiting  https://ler.illinois.edu/alumni/give/  and selecting the “LER Student Emergency Fund.” Student gift awards will be deposited, managed, and awarded by LER through the LER Emergency Fund.

Don’t Forget – Your company may match your gift!  
If you plan to make a gift, and submit to your charitable gift matching program through an employer, gifts must be made through the LER Website and/or the University of Illinois Foundation. Click the link above or for questions regarding the matching gift programs offered, please contact Cory Hatfield. Cory’s contact information can be found here .