Calgary Cinderella Project: Supporting High School Graduates

The Cause

The Calgary Cinderella Project, is a program that has been making a difference in the lives of vulnerable and disadvantaged youth in Calgary for over 16 years. In 2019, the Cinderella Project became a NEW program of Youth Central, previously the program was under the Calgary Board of Education. The program has not operated fully since Youth Central took over due to COVID. We are hoping this new program for Youth Central will be able to operate at full capacity in 2022 (exact dates still to be finalized).

The Cinderella program is focused on encouraging students to graduate from high school and in return will receive the dress of their dreams to attend their graduation ceremony. Many of the students who receive the dresses are vulnerable and have overcome many challenges in their lives in order to graduate. The students are identified and referred to the program by school personnel. The program works closely with the Calgary Board of Education and the Calgary Catholic School Division.

Prior to COVID and before Youth Central took over the program, the project supported approximately 250 graduating students from over 30 Calgary high schools annually! Through the program we celebrate the accomplishments of the graduates, have them attend their graduation celebrations with style, and show them that they are supported and part of a larger community that cares. Did you know, approximately 17% of Calgary’s students will not complete high school after 5 years? We are doing our part to try to change that.

We not only provide a dress, we make it a meaningful experience. The experience includes one-on-one support, accessories and gifts to make their day special. To support this number of students the program requires the help of 200+ volunteers.

Student Quotes from 2021 Evaluation:
“... I had an amazing experience. I went home feeling excited, supported and motivated. Thank you to everyone that made it possible!”
“It was amazing and one of the best experiences of my life! I wouldn't change anything about it. It made me feel so special and loved. It honestly changed my life.”
“The godmothers were so helpful and welcoming they made the experience so nice. I was nervous at first but once I met the godmothers they made all my stress go away and made me feel super welcome and loved!!!”
“... My godmother was so helpful and kind!! All the godmothers were super helpful and so nice! I was amazed on how special they made me feel”

Who Will it Benefit?

Students in Calgary who are graduating high school and have been identified by school personnel as having financial challenges and have overcome obstacles in order to graduate. Many of the students have overcome addictions, are parents, live independently, may be or have been homeless, work full-time, live in crisis situations, and have mental health illnesses. For the students attending their high school graduation ceremony with their peers was an area of anxiety and stress for they couldn’t afford attire that made them feel confident and proud. Through the program we change that and make them feel special, supported and encouraged them to believe in themselves for what they have accomplished.