The Empowerment Plan is a Detroit based nonprofit organization focused on permanently elevating families from the generational cycle of homelessness. We hire single parents from local shelters and provide them with training and full-time employment as seamstresses so that they can earn a stable income, find secure housing, and regain their independence. The individuals we hire manufacture a coat designed to meet the needs of those in the homeless community. The durable EMPWR Coat can transform into a sleeping bag at night or an over- the-shoulder bag when not in use. Since 2012, we have provided employment to 34 homeless individuals—all of whom have now secured permanent housing for themselves and their families —and distributed over 15,000 coats to those in need across the U.S. and Canada.
Our founder and CEO, Veronika Scott, was inspired to start The Empowerment Plan when a class at The College for Creative Studies in Detroit challenged her to create a product to fill an actual need in her community. Veronika took to the issue of homelessness and began spending time at a nearby warming center where the design for the EMPWR coat was born. While conducting her research, Veronika was angrily confronted by a homeless woman who stated that she did not need a coat—she needed a job. This is the moment that shaped the innovative business practices The Empowerment Plan would adopt upon establishment.
The Empowerment Plan is predominantly supported by donations from private individuals, large corporations and foundations. We also would not be able to accomplish all that we do without the help of local organizations. The Coalition On Temporary Shelter (COTS) assists us with employee recruitment and childcare needs. As our employees successfully transition from homelessness, Humble Design provides our seamstresses with appropriate furnishings and amenities for their new homes. Partners such as Pro-Literacy Detroit, Level One Bank, COTS, and 2-Way Communications LLC provide our seamstresses with on-the-clock, supplemental programming including GED courses, financial literacy classes, professional development seminars, and more.
We are committed to growing our impact beyond Detroit and believe our model can and should be replicated in communities near and far. By scaling our Detroit program, we are creating a workforce from a population many overlook. Homelessness should not be a life sentence.