PROJECT LEMONADE FAQ
A. What is Project Lemonade?
Project Lemonade provides foster youth in the Portland metro area with an annual back-to-school shopping experience. This free event allows foster youth to begin their school year with new clothing, shoes and confidence. We are a non-profit 501(c)(3) run entirely by volunteers. Our pop-up shop has been generously donated the past two years by community property owners. Our long-term goal is to secure a year-round facility where we can meet the ongoing needs of these youth.
B. Why was Project Lemonade created?
There are over 13,000 youth in the foster care system in Oregon. Recent budget cuts have nearly eliminated shopping vouchers for foster families. When foster youth arrive at a new foster home they often have few or no possessions and it is the responsibility of the foster family to provide clothing and shoes. The financial impact is significant for these families and the funds provided to them do not take into account securing a new wardrobe.
Project Lemonade assists foster families by providing a back-to-school shopping experience in which clothing, shoes and accessories are free.
C. How does Project Lemonade implement its program?
Project Lemonade procures new clothing, shoes and accessories donated by apparel companies; holds clothing drives for nearly-new clothing at schools, churches and businesses; and secures funding from community members and through grants to purchase clothing at reduced rates.
The Project Lemonade store is open for four weeks prior to the beginning of the school year. We operate out of a pop-up shop in a centrally located space donated by community property owners. The shop is organized and staffed entirely by volunteers.
D. Who is served by Project Lemonade?
Project Lemonade provides the over 2,000 foster youth in the Portland Metro area with a small trove of new and nearly-new clothing, shoes and accessories. Originally we planned to serve school-aged youth between ages 5 and 18, but after a special request by Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman we agreed to include youth between the ages of 18 and 20 because these youth lose vital resources and support when they age out of state-sponsored foster care system.
In 2016 we served over 2,000 foster youth. Project Lemonade has served over 8,200 foster youth since 2012.
E. What are Project Lemonade’s long-term goals?
We are currently open for only the four weeks prior to the start of school, but we would like to find a permanent home where we can provide year-round support and services to foster youth in need.
F. Why is Project Lemonade qualified to address these objectives?
Project Lemonade is uniquely qualified to address these objectives because it is run by a highly organized group of professionals who volunteer their time and expertise to create a successful shopping experience for foster youth. These volunteers are powered by a commitment to nurture and support vulnerable youth and meet needs that social services cannot.
In addition, Project Lemonade has a strong working relationship with the Department of Human Services, which assists us by referring foster youth.
Project Lemonade earned the support of the National Charity League of Portland for our 2013 event, at which NCL provided support and a significant corps of volunteers.
G. Are there other groups addressing the same or related objectives as Project Lemonade?
Prior to obtaining individual tax-exempt status in the spring of 2013, Project Lemonade was sponsored by The Foster Closet, a local non-profit agency based in Washington County. The Foster Closet was a valuable resource as Project Lemonade embarked upon the first event of its kind in Portland. The Foster Closet continues to operate as a year-round resource for foster families in Washington County. To our knowledge, there is no other Portland-area organization serving foster youth in this capacity.
We differ from the Foster Closet because Project Lemonade is committed to providing high quality clothing to foster youth in order to maximize the positive self-esteem generated by owning new, well-fitting and stylish clothes. Project Lemonade may be a foster youth’s first shopping experience. We have created an environment where foster youth feel welcome, andwhere our volunteers benefit from the joy of assisting them.
H. How will Project Lemonade be funded in the future?
Project Lemonade will continue to raise funds by fostering existing relationships with local corporations, foundations, and the community-at-large, and by through fundraising events. Project Lemonade receives in-kind donations from companies both large and small and anticipates a continuation of this type of support.