Threads For Teens

By: Allyson Ahlstrom

Poverty , Caretaker

In the United States today, 55.2 percent of the 42.9 million people living in poverty are women and girls. Overall, girls are much more likely to experience poverty than boys. In fact, worldwide, an astounding 70% of the 1.3 billion people living in poverty are female!

In addition to the basic survival factors such as restricted or no access to housing and adequate food, girls growing up in poverty conditions also deal with low self-esteem. Poverty makes school especially difficult in that regard – in addition to the other poverty-related stressors that can affect a person’s school performance, school-age girls also have to worry about how they look.

If girls are showing up to school in old or otherwise inadequate clothing, it can have a huge effect on their self-confidence. By increasing access to adequate clothing so those growing up in poverty won’t stand out, we will also increase their sense of confidence and well-being, and maybe even their performance in school. Something that is so basic to many people can mean the world to a girl in need. 

Inspired by the book Generation Change by Zach Hunter which told the stories of kids my age who had started amazing philanthropic projects in 2010 - I founded Threads For Teens. I was 14 years old. I was so inspired by these stories, particularly one about a girl who collected prom dresses and donated them to girls who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to buy their own. With that in mind, I decided to take it a step further, and Threads For Teens was born.

Threads For Teens provides underprivileged girls with free, quality clothing. A social worker will nominate a girl for the program, and if we approve it, we set up an appointment for her to visit our store. The store is open by appointment only, so each girl gets her own, exclusive VIP shopping experience!

Each girl who visits our boutique receives the following:

  • Two Shirts/Blouses
  • Two pairs of pants, shorts or skirts
  • One Dress (Formal or Summer)
  • One Pair of Shoes
  • A Necklace
  • A Bracelet
  • A Purse
  • Some other miscellaneous accessories
  • We have seasonal surprises as well

We also go on tour to bring our mission and gifts to girls around the country. In the summer of 2014, we traveled from Los Angeles to Boston.To date, we have received in kind donations over $100,000 in items and services, and over $40,000 in monetary contributions.

Every day, people make a conscious decision about what they will wear. What a person wears can influence how he or she feels about himself or herself. When a girl feels great about what she has on, she has more confidence and higher self-esteem. At Threads for Teens, we strongly believe this is true. We see how the girls are affected when each of them visits our shop, and gets to choose what they will feel good wearing.

  • Allyson Ahlstrom is a freshman studying economics at the University of Pennsylvania. There, she is the Sophomore Class VP of External Affairs, the Wharton Women Corporate Sponsorship Liaison Chair, the External Social Chair of Zeta Tau Alpha, board member of Wharton Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Club, as well as a member of the Wharton MUSE PromoWeb Committee. She was similarly ambitious in high school, serving in Model UN, as well as Executive Director of Student Council, Treasurer of Associated Student Body, and President of Safe School Ambassadors. Social advocacy is an important part of her life, and she enjoys volunteering in a variety of areas and capacities. In her free time, she likes reading, running, and making various crafts.


Rejection as an Opportunity

Feb. 3, 2016

My TEDx talk which describes my journey to earn sponsorship.  Thanks RUE 21!

Girls Bringing Threads For Teens Into Their Communities!

Jan. 26, 2016

Name: Grace Myler
Location: Minnesota

What are your goals for Threads for Teens Minnesota?
My goal is to impact as many girls as I can in Minnesota. I want to be able to provide them with not only clothing, but also with someone they can look up to as a role model.


Name: Abigail Christie
Location: Bromley, London

What are your goals for Threads for Teens London? I definitely want to open a boutique in the next year, and in the future take Threads for Teens London on tour.


Rue21 styled out my 3rd annual tour!

Aug. 16, 2015

Wrapping up my 3rd annual cross-country tour and CBS news picked up the story!  On this trip, we gave 90 girls from the state Child Protective Services and Juvenile Probation Department new clothes that were donated by corporate sponsors, including rue21! 

Rue21 is one of the fastest-growing retail brands in the country.  Recently, they launched "rueGivesback" -- a philanthropy program which is committed to making a positive impact to the lives of their customers and employees in the communities where they Rue21 now has over 1,100 stores in 48 states, both in shopping malls and also in outlet and strip centers, allowing its customers to have access to the fashion-forward styles they crave.

Read more about my tour:

In Other News

Franklin County Foster Teens Get New Clothes, WOSU, 7/25/2014. Many teenagers express who they are through their clothes. But for teens in foster care, getting new clothes is a luxury. Two non-profits came to Columbus, Friday, looking to change that. The organizations are on a 16-city tour this summer to outfit thousands of teenagers in foster care with brand new digs. Read More

Threads for Teens program in town, The Columbus Dispatch, 7/24/2014. For the second year, philanthropist Allyson Ahlstrom will park her pink tractor-trailer in Columbus and give the designer clothes inside to girls in need. More than 60 central Ohio girls will have the opportunity on Friday to select an outfit. All participants had to pre-register with Franklin County Children Services, where the Threads for Teens trailer will be parked. Read More

Threads for Teens Mobile Tour, Zimbio, 7/20/2014. Allyson Ahlstrom (left) founder Threads for Teens and Season 4 winner of The Voice, Danielle Bradbery (right) helps a teen in the style studio at the Threads For Teens Mobile Boutique Tour at Hotel Indigo Nashville Downtown on July 21, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee. Read More

Allyson Ahlstrom's Threads For Teens Making A Difference, Nashville Country Club, 7/17/2014. Allyson Ahlstrom, 19, of Santa Rosa California hits Nashville, TN with her mobile boutique and non-profit organization, Threads for Teens® on Monday, July 21st. Allyson is on a summer tour of fourteen cities across the United States. “Threads for Teens® on Tour” will outfit some 1,000 underprivileged girls, each in a brand-new outfit, from a pink-clad semi truck set up as a chic mobile boutique. The mobile boutique will be open from 10 AM-1 PM at Hotel Indigo. Read More

19 year-old social entrepreneur brings "Threads for Teens" mobile boutique to LV 7/15, Las Vegas Sun, 7/11/2014. Allyson Ahlstrom, 19, of Santa Rosa California hits Las Vegas, NV with her mobile boutique and non-profit organization, Threads for Teens® on Tuesday, July 15th. Allyson is on a summer tour of fourteen cities across the United States. “Threads for Teens® on Tour” will outfit some 1,000 underprivileged girls, each in a brand-new outfit, from a pink-clad semi truck set up as a chic mobile boutique. The mobile boutique will be open from 10am-1pm. Read More

ALLYSON AHLSTROM ON FOUNDING THREADS FOR TEENS!, sweetyhigh, 2/10/2014. Allyson Ahlstrom had always been involved in community service, and was almost always involved in some kind of service or volunteer work. Then one Christmas, she received a book called Generation Change by Zach Hunter. The book detailed the stories of young people who had started amazing service projects to benefit their communities. The book inspired her to create a project of her own. Read More

What My Work Has Afforded

As a result of this inspiring work, I have also been able to win awards!  Here are just a few:

Also see the complete list here!

Video Library

Threads for Teens Founder Allyson Ahlstrom on The Queen Latifah Show
Queen Latifah surprises Allyson Ahlstrom, Threads for Teens founder, by donating clothes to support her cause.

Real Hero, Allyson Ahlstrom, Good Samaritan Youth
Allyson Ahlstrom came up with the idea of Threads for Teens, a free shopping "store," stocked with donated designer clothing for teen girls who cannot afford nice school clothing.

2013 State Honoree Allyson Ahlstrom
Allyson Ahlstrom, one of California's top two youth volunteers of 2013, created a full-service clothing boutique that has allowed 250 girls in need to each pick out two brand-new outfits for free over the past three years.

Allyson Ahlstrom Speech Threads for Teens (Carroll Shelby Benefit)
Threads for Teens 7/16/11

Doing Unto Others: Episode 4 Threads for Teens
"Doing Unto Others" is a web series dedicated to telling stories of people who give of themselves for no other reason than to give. In Episode 4, meet Allyson Ahlstrom who has dedicated herself to Threads For Teens'. Her goal is to help young, less-fortunate girls build their self-esteem, confidence and give them hope. We will accomplish this through the gifts of clothing, support, and education.

Summer 2014 Threads For Teens Tour

In the summer of 2014, we converted a semi-truck into a traveling boutique to bring clothes to girls all across the country. We started in Los Angeles, CA and ended in Boston, MA. Here's a look at the places we stopped:

The Impacts That Really Matter

Lives changed...

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