Just in time for the first anniversary of the retailer’s Dream Big Project, Express has revealed plans to raise $1 million for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America with Miss USA 2019 Cheslie Kryst at the helm.
“The Express Dream Big Project is our giving and mentoring initiative to provide opportunities and resources for people of every generation,” Sara Tervo, Express executive vice president and chief marketing officer, told WWD. “We chose Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, the largest, most experienced youth mentoring organization, because we believed in their mission. We’re committed to raising over $1 million to help provide young people with the tools they need to achieve success.”
The formula includes an initial donation of $300,000, about $200,000 in Express gift cards and associates pledging more than 100,000 hours of mentoring and volunteer time to the organization. In addition, Express is hoping to raise another $500,000 over the next year through in-store and online donations.
To help drum up interest, Express has cast Kryst as the face of its fall 2021 campaign, which debuts today. Shot in Express’ New York City design studio, the campaign video features Kryst, alongside select Big Brothers Big Sisters “Littles,” talking about her work with the nonprofit (including her role as a national board member to Big Brothers Big Sisters) and her overall partnership with Express. The former beauty queen and “Extra TV” correspondent will also be highlighted on Express’ social media channels, website, emails and in the Express app as she continues to promote the brand in a number of ways, including an appearance on the Kelly Clarkson Show this Thursday to talk about the initiative.
“We seek out brand partners who embody our brand purpose,” Tervo said, regarding the retailer’s decision to work with Kryst. “We’re proud to work with her to help pave the way for young people to follow their dreams.”
Kryst, meanwhile, is equally as excited to work with Express.
“The work Big Brothers Big Sisters does in our communities is exactly what our country needs right now — a helping hand for youth who crave encouragement and guidance,” she said. “I’m thrilled to be able to represent an organization that feeds my passion for helping others, especially through this partnership with a brand I’ve been raving about and wearing for years.”
Express’ Dream Big Project started in September 2020 in an effort to support a different organization each quarter. (The first was GoFundMe’s Small Business Relief Fund.) To date, the program has raised $850,000 for community organizations.
Big Brothers Big Sisters’ “Big Futures” program — which raises funds to support economic mobility in local communities and expand critical services for youth ages 18 to 25 — marks the retailer’s first yearlong commitment to one organization.
In addition, last year’s Dream Big Day and virtual Dream Big event will now run from Sept. 17 to 19 in the Made to Express You Weekend. The three-day celebration will continue to promote the initiative with in-person activations and virtual conversations centered around building confidence.
Express will match all customer donations, up to $50,000, throughout the weekend. Shoppers can also make donations in stores or at express.com/dreambigproject, now through August 2022.