(Photo Credit: Thinkstock)

(Photo Credit: Thinkstock)

This article is presented in partnership with CA Lottery.

Graduating from high school is an incredible accomplishment which deserves to be celebrated, and that celebration typically takes the form of a long-anticipated prom. Every girl graduating from high school deserves to have the prom of her dreams and to feel like a princess for just one night.

But no matter how dazzling her date, or her smile, being able to afford the all-important prom dress is an obstacle many girls simply can’t overcome — at least not without the magic supplied by a benevolent fairy godmother.

Enter the Princess Project, a San Francisco-based, non-profit organization helping to promote inner and outer beauty. The Princess Project supplies free prom dresses and accessories to high school girls throughout the state.


Building Self-Confidence One Prom Dress At A Time

Geared toward helping girls achieve self-confidence and an individual sense of style, the Princess Project was founded by Laney Whitcanack and Kristi Smith Knutson. Both founders started the organization a decade ago in response to one girl’s dilemma.

Now a thriving organization, the Princess Project has helped dress almost 20,000 girls in San Francisco through the support of volunteers and donors. In their words, the donations of “time, talent and taffeta” help make the prom dreams of girls from low-income families come true.

The organization functions like a loving fairy godmother, holding dress giveaways in San Francisco, San Diego, Silicon Valley and Tracy. Girls register for updates on the events either through teen organizations, their schools or individually online.

New and nearly-new dresses, shoes, shawls, handbags and costume jewelry are donated from fashion companies and individuals. These donors ensure that no girl ever has to decline an invitation to prom just because she can’t afford the clothes. The Princess Project also supports grassroots efforts nationwide with a Do-It-Yourself Donation Drive Kit available for download from their website.


Creating Self-Esteem And Fulfilling Dreams

In a society that worships skinny celebrities and the break-the-bank clothing they don, the Princess Project and the girls they serve are united by a shared value system. This system focuses upon several core concepts including:


  •  Celebrating diversity and body types in all shapes and sizes.
  •  Valuing one’s self and each woman’s own individual type of beauty.
  •  Avoidance of objectifying the female form in advertising through outreach.
  •  Recognizing the value of recycling and reusing the earth’s resources appropriately and respectfully.
  •  Respecting and valuing each dress and accessory donation as having importance to both the donor and recipient.
  •  Promoting and embracing the spirit of volunteerism as it pertains to the Princess Project and to the community.


The Princess Project holds an annual Taffeta Tea to raise funds for their work. Individuals are also urged to become Fairy Godmothers for a small donation. Each $25 raised assures both a prom dress and a wonderful memory for a girl who might not have either otherwise.


Corey Whelan is a freelance writer in New York. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.