NEW YORK, Sept. 30, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- The Roslyn S. Jaffe Awards, a not-for-profit program, announces the winners of $150,000 in grants recognizing individuals who help empower women and children. This 2nd annual awards program honors the lifelong contributions of Roslyn S. Jaffe, who co-founded the first dressbarn store in Connecticut in 1962, by giving grants to everyday heroes who are making the world a better place for women and children especially in the areas of health, education, social reform and self-esteem. Winners include: All Our Kin of Connecticut; VolunTEEN Nation based in St. Louis, Missouri; and Polished Pebbles Girls Mentoring Program of Chicago, Illinois.
"The 'Mrs. J' awards are dedicated to helping women who started their nonprofit organizations with a great idea to make an impact on society. This trailblazing determination reflects the philosophy of our co-founder, Mrs. Jaffe," said David Jaffe, CEO of Ascena Retail Group, Inc. "Ascena's philanthropic vision honors dynamic women who are making a real difference in their communities and work tirelessly towards achieving their goals."
"In 2015, we received over 2,000 nominations from across the country representing an impressive range of well-deserving nonprofit organizations. We were particularly interested in honoring individuals whose nonprofits may not be well known but have the potential to make a major impact through the public awareness and financial support that comes with the Jaffe Awards. We couldn't be more thrilled with the 2015 Award winners," said Elise Jaffe, Executive Sponsor for Ascena Cares.
$100,000 Grand Prize Recipient: Jessica Sager & Janna Wagner, Co-Founders and Directors, All Our Kin in Connecticut All Our Kin trains, supports, and sustains community child care providers to ensure that children and families have the foundation they need to succeed in school and in life. All Our Kin's model is a proven triple win: child care professionals succeed as business owners and educators; working parents find stable, high-quality care for their children; and children gain an educational foundation that lays the groundwork for achievement in school and beyond. By improving the quality of care in family child care programs, All Our Kin improves educational outcomes and life chances for the youngest and most vulnerable children in four Connecticut cities – Bridgeport, New Haven, Norwalk, and Stamford and their surrounding communities. All Our Kin addresses workforce development and child care simultaneously, making an impact on the whole family.
$25,000 Grant Recipient: Simone Bernstein, Co-Founder, VolunTEEN Nation in St. Louis, MO VolunTEEN Nation is a volunteer-run organization with an online platform to connect young people with organizations, service projects, resources, and grants in low-income areas in order to learn new skills, gain experiences, and make their communities a better place. VolunTEEN Nation empowers youth, across the country, to problem-solve challenges in their communities and activates youth to make a difference in the world. At age 12, its Co-Founder, Simone Bernstein, saw a need for a resource specifically for youth to volunteer, and as a result, created VolunTEEN Nation.
$25,000 Grant Recipient: Kelly Fair, Founder, Polished Pebbles Girls Mentoring Program in Chicago, IL Polished Pebbles Girls Mentoring Program provides low-income, inner-city girls in Chicago with the opportunity to learn the vital life skill of effective communication in preparation for personal and professional endeavors. The program instills confidence in girls to face the challenges of daily life by substituting aggressive forms of communicating and problem solving with new strategies that allow them to gain a solid reputation and respect. The principles of the Polished Pebbles program are communication, career exploration and community, creating a pipeline for under resourced girls from school to the workplace.
This year's Roslyn S. Jaffe Awards program was launched in Ascena brands' retail stores and on the brands' web sites in April 2015. Over 2,000 nominations were received nationwide. Final winners were chosen by an esteemed Selection Committee with expertise in women's causes, public affairs, health, and education. The Jaffe Awards External Selection Committee members include: Helen Drinan, President of Simmons College; Joi Gordon, CEO of Dress for Success; Paula Kerger, CEO of PBS; Aza Nedhari, Executive Director and Co-founder, Mamatoto Village (2014 Award Winner); Evainna Ross, Executive Director, The Sparrow's Nest (2014 Award Winner); Dr. Lisa Satlin, Professor and Chair, Pediatric Nephrology at Mount Sinai in New York City; Isabel Toledo, Designer, and Teresa Younger, CEO and President of Ms. Foundation for Women.
A luncheon honoring the winners will take place on October 27, 2015 at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City. Award-winning journalist Soledad O'Brien will emcee the event.
Roslyn S. Jaffe co-founded the firstdressbarn storein 1962; currently she is Director Emeritus for Ascena Retail Group, Inc. She is a graduate from Simmons College, and was awarded an honorary Doctorate degree in management from Simmons College in 2011.
In 1962, Roslyn S. Jaffe was a working mother who, with her husband Elliot, saw a need and had a brilliant business idea - a one-stop-shop that offered the convenience of a value-based, yet, fashion forward "work" wardrobe solution for busy women, like herself. Roslyn and Elliot seized the opportunity and opened a small store named dressbarn in Stamford, CT and helped grow it into the successful, $7.4 billion retail empire it is today (Ascena Retail Group, Inc.). A true trailblazer and entrepreneur, Mrs. Jaffe credits her success to strength, determination, and a can-do attitude. But, most of all, she credits the company's success to a strong team of family, friends, and associates.
Understanding the needs of her co-workers, who were also "working moms," Roslyn Jaffe encouraged a close-knit community where associates could rely on each other. In addition, Mrs. Jaffe supported like-minded organizations in the community. A "take care of your own" camaraderie is what inspired the company years later to establish Ascena Cares, the company's group of charitable organizations.
About Ascena Cares
Ascena is passionate about making a meaningful difference in the lives of others. Ascena brands focus their charitable giving to the long-standing mission of supporting women and children empowerment issues. And, through Ascena Cares, several funds were established to provide support directly to employees, their families and their communities, including: an emergency assistance fund to help employees in challenging times; a scholarship fund to help employees' children get a higher education; and a crisis relief fund to help the surrounding communities in times of need.
About Ascena Retail Group, Inc.
The Ascena Retail Group, Inc. is the third largest US-based specialty retailer, and the largestfocused exclusively on serving the female consumer. With its recent acquisition of ANN INC.,Ascena Retail Group now has $7.4 billion in annual sales across its family of retail brands, including dressbarn, maurices, Justice, Lane Bryant, Catherines, Ann Taylor,LOFT, and Lou & Grey.