The Corsage Project: Giving Young Students a Sense of Belonging on Prom Night

corsage girls in their dresses

The Corsage Project: Helping High School Students in Financial Need Attend Prom

The Corsage Project gives high school students in financial need a prom night to remember by providing free formal wear to graduating students who have overcome. In partnership with Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada, The Corsage Project’s annual Boutique Ball supplies brand-new dresses, shoes, and accessories, giving these students a sense of normalcy, a chance to connect with other youth, and make memories with their peers and friends without worrying about cost.

The Boutique Ball: A Day to Celebrate the Students’ Achievements

Each year, The Corsage Project hosts the Boutique Ball – an incredible event that brings graduating students together to celebrate their achievements. Founded 23 years ago by Carole Atkins and Rhona Sallay, who worked with at-risk and special-needs youth in Toronto high schools, the Boutique Ball is a day where youth graduating high school have the opportunity to participate in a milestone that would otherwise be out of reach due to financial constraints.

The volunteer team transforms a local high school into a giant shopping bazaar with hundreds of new dresses, shoes, purses. Students have their own volunteer personal shopper to help them choose their outfit and other goodies from the initiative’s generous sponsors.

Corsage girl being fitted into her dress Corsage girl with her assistant

Meet a ‘Corsage Girl’: Cat’s Story

Cat at Corsage ProjectAs a senior in high school, Cat knew prom was expensive, costing more than most young people in her situation could afford. But she also knew prom was a huge deal, marking the beginning of adulthood. Not only did The Corsage Project allow Cat to feel like an ordinary high school graduate, as all the dresses were brand-new and fashionable, but it also allowed her to reconnect with a friend whom she had helped escape an abusive situation

When Cat returned to the Boutique Ball as a personal shopper following her own prom, she was a personal shopper and was reunited with a friend she helped when she was thirteen. It was Cat who had made the tough decision to report her friend’s abusive parent, resulting in her friend being placed in a foster home. Cat’s friend was now a “Corsage Girl”, and both were ecstatic to see each other again.

“The best part about participating in The Corsage Project’s Boutique Ball was being reunited with my friend, and that it gives youth a sense of familiarity and normalcy. The event allows these young women to make friends and long-lasting connections while providing them with a supportive, happy atmosphere to help celebrate their special day.”

How Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada supports the Corsage Project


As Canada’s leading charity dedicated to improving the lives of children, youth and families involved with the child welfare system, Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada is proud to partner with The Corsage Project by providing administrative and logistical support for the Boutique Ball along with The Corsage Project’s scholarship and bursary program that helps local high school graduates achieve their post-secondary goals. The Foundation is Canada’s leading charity dedicated to improving the lives of children, youth and families involved with the child welfare system.


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