Only 8% of Chicago Public School students obtain bachelor's degrees within 10 years of starting high school, and only 49% of college-going CPS students graduate within six years. This is representative of the alarming college enrollment rate gap between students from low-income and non-low-income schools. Even when students enroll in college, research shows the average CPS graduate is not prepared to succeed in postsecondary academia. These startling rates mark the importance of motivating students to prepare for their academic futures early on by educating them on the vast career opportunities in the working world - such as the fashion industry.

In 2015, CPS’s graduation rate rose from 66.3% to 69.9%. Despite the rate increase, one-third of graduating seniors had a 2.0 GPA or lower. Furthermore, one-fourth of students with a GPA of 3.5 and above did not enroll in a four-year college after graduating high school. This data demonstrates that the need for college readiness courses are greater than ever.

A college readiness program dedicated to fashion studies never existed - until now.

Few students are aware that fashion studies are an option for post-secondary education. As a result, there is a huge lack of diversity within the fashion industry. MFO’s fashion program will knock down barriers into the fashion world by educating students that a fashion career is not only exciting but achievable. MFO first exposes students to fashion during middle school.

Middle school is a significant period of transition for girls, during which many lose their sense of individuality to peer pressure. With so many changes occurring, self-esteem is often negatively impacted resulting in poor attendance, grades and ambition levels. Low self-esteem is one of the largest issues that diminishes a student's chances of graduating from high school and enrolling in college. Students need an outlet to reclaim their individuality, and MFO provides this through clothing donations and with an education on how clothing and self-esteem intersect.

LEARN MORE ABOUT HOW WE'RE IMPACTING STUDENTS LIKE 10TH GRADER TALIYA AND 7TH GRADER AMARIA

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