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Grad makes coats, jobs and prospects

June 28 2013
 © The Empowerment Plan 2013 © The Empowerment Plan 2013
A college project has morphed into a social enterprise that employs 13 women with experience of homelessness


College grad makes coats, jobs and prospects for homeless

In the beginning the idea was to produce a coat that provided comfort and pride for the homeless. But Veronica Scott of Detroit soon realised jobs were far more valuable.

A college project started three years ago inspired Scott (pictured modelling a coat) to research and produce a coat that could morph into a sleeping bag, keeping those sleeping rough in Detroit’s -20° C winter nights warm.

She now runs not-for-profit organisation The Empowerment Plan, which employs 13 homeless or former homeless women (pictured). This year the business aims to make 4,000 coats.

She recruits single parents with no history of violent crimes and pays above the national minimum wage. This, combined with the microloans that Scott offers, has helped her employees to achieve independence, access education and move their families off the streets.

Their coats are distributed free of charge to rough sleepers, but they have also been used by the Red Cross for disaster relief.

This has been made possible in part due to donations from local businesses. Carhartt supplied the initial sewing machines and coat lining fabrics and General Motors provided insulation materials.

Scott told ABC news: "I was raised in a situation of poverty. It wasn’t abstract as it is for most people. So knowing that can happen to my family means that can happen to anyone."