About the Cinderella Project
- The Cinderella Project is a federal, 100% volunteer-based charity founded in Vancouver, B.C. in 1999
- The Cinderella Project works to remove social barriers and promote inclusiveness and diversity. It recognizes outstanding young people who have succeeded in the face of overwhelming odds and boosts their confidence and self esteem through respect and positive mentorship.
- The Cinderella Project provides disadvantaged high school graduates with formal attire so they can attend their graduation festivities with pride. Without assistance, these outstanding students could not afford to participate in celebrating this important milestone.
- In 2003, the Cinderella Project started the Peter Mackenzie Memorial Awards for Excellence. Since that time we have awarded over $67,000 in financial awards, 30 laptop computers and 30 hairdressing scholarships.
The Students: Cinderellas and Cinderfellas
- Cinderellas and Cinderfellas are referred to the Cinderella Project from over 70 schools across Greater Vancouver, the Sea to Sky corridor and the Sunshine Coast. Referrals also come from students in home school and alternate programs. Referrals are made by school counselors, teachers, principals or social services agencies.
- Students come from diverse cultures and backgrounds, originating from over 116 countries. These students are accepted into the Cinderella program based upon existing hardship.
- Nearly half of all Cinderellas and Cinderfellas are chronically ill or physically or developmentally disabled. More than two-thirds of those students who are physically able to work juggle multiple jobs before and after school to help support their families. Some are single parents, struggling to complete high school. Many are caring for ailing parents or raising younger siblings with little support. Most have never had a childhood.
- Throughout the year, the Cinderella Project collects donations of new and used formal wear. Each spring, the project holds a “Boutique Day” in a ballroom donated free of charge by the Pinnacle Hotel Vancouver Harbourfront.
- The Cinderella Project sees Boutique Day not as a handout but rather a way to acknowledge the fact that these outstanding students have achieved a significant milestone and overcome significant challenges to do so. The students spend the day with positive role models celebrating their success and discussing their future plans.
- Cinderellas and Cinderfellas come to the hotel from across the Lower Mainland to select their graduation outfits and celebrate their achievements. With the assistance of a “fairy godmother” or “godfather”, each grad selects a gown, suit or tuxedo, shoes, purse and accessories. Students have their hair and makeup done and receive a care package full of essential toiletries, socks, etc. They are fussed over and pampered – often for the first time in their lives.
- Since Boutique Day is about respecting and celebrating diversity, the venue is wheelchair accessible and located near public transit. The project provides godparents who know sign language or have experience working with the visually impaired. The selection of available formal wear includes outfits appropriate to a variety of cultures.
- The Cinderella Project is run solely by volunteers – there are no salaried employees.
- Volunteers come from a diverse range of backgrounds and each brings a different set of unique skills and experiences to the project. Since 1999 Cinderella Project volunteers have given over 250,000 hours!
- A core group of approximately 10 volunteers look after the day-to-day operations of the program.
- For Boutique Day, more than 400 volunteers including hairstylists, makeup artists, disc jockeys, seamstresses, tailors, photographers, and fairy godmothers and godfathers gather to create a memorable experience for Cinderellas and Cinderfellas.
Fundraising and Sponsorship
- The Cinderella Project relies solely on financial and product support from sponsors to fund the program. One hundred percent of the merchandise and funds donated by sponsors goes directly towards operating and promoting the project.
- To supplement donations from individual and corporate sponsors, the Cinderella Project holds its own fundraising events each year.
Achievements to Date
- Since its inception in 1999, the Cinderella Project has assisted approximately 3,350 young people from across the B.C. Lower Mainland.
- The impact of the Cinderella Project extends well beyond graduation ceremonies. It is remarkable how one day of encouragement and positive mentorship can have a long-term impact on a young person’s confidence, self-esteem and outlook on life.
- Each year, the Cinderella Project receives numerous letters from parents, school counselors and teachers explaining the positive impacts the day has had on the graduates who participated.
- Equally touched by the Cinderella Project are parents, counselors, sponsors and project volunteers, many of whom come back year after year to be part of this inspirational experience.
- The Cinderella Project was one of the three finalists for the prestigious Canadian Red Cross Power of Humanity Awards in 2004.
- The Cinderella Project was runner-up for Flare Magazine’s National Volunteer of the Year Award for 2004.
- The Cinderella Project was the winner of the 2005 Lower Mainland Good Neighbour Award.
- The Cinderella Project was the winner of the 2007 YMCA Local Power of Peace Award.
- Co-founder and Co-Executive Director Heather MacKenzie won the 2015 YWCA Women of Distinction Award, in the Community Champion category, in part for her work with The Cinderella Project
Spreading the Word
- The founders of Vancouver’s Cinderella Project have generously shared their knowledge and experiences with others who wish to start similar organizations.
- The project has shared resources, ideas and supplies to help grow similar projects in 12 BC communities
- Has also sent resources and ideas to more than 88 communities nationally and internationally, including:
- Red Deer, AB
- Toronto, ON
- Cole Harbour, NS
- Central Florida
- Brisbane, Australia
- Auckland, New Zealand
For a list of similar projects that we know of please click here.