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Exclusive: Meghan Markle's Archewell Foundation announces incredible news to mark the start of Women's History Month

The Duchess of Sussex has been patron of Smart Works since 2019

duchess of sussex smart works grant
Danielle Stacey
Danielle StaceyOnline Royal CorrespondentLondon
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To coincide with the first day of Women's History Month, the Duchess of Sussex's Archewell Foundation has announced it will be giving a grant to one of Meghan's longstanding patronages – Smart Works.

The Duchess became patron of the UK charity in January 2019, which helps to give women the confidence they need to reach their full potential, secure employment and change the trajectory of their lives.

Archewell Foundation's support will help enable the creation of a vital upcoming research project for Smart Works, focusing on the data around female unemployment in the UK and the challenges faced by the women the charity supports.

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The Smart Works Female Unemployment Index will look at unemployment issues that affect women across the UK, with the aim of creating an annual benchmark against which progress and change can be tracked. The project will get underway in the next several months, and is expected to be published late in 2022. 

Kate Stephens, CEO, Smart Works said: "We are so grateful to Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex and Archewell Foundation for their steadfast support of Smart Works' mission and continued growth.

"Whether in person or remote, we are dedicated to providing women with the tools they need to feel confident at such a critical moment in their lives, and the research we are undertaking will shine a light on the challenges they face."

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duchess of sussex smart set collection© Photo: Getty Images

The Duchess at the launch of the Smart Set capsule clothing collection in 2019

In September 2019, Meghan launched a special capsule clothing collection with the charity – 'The Smart Set' - in collaboration with Marks & Spencer, Jigsaw, John Lewis and Misha Nonoo. For every item that was purchased, one was donated to the charity, allowing customers to help empower and support other women and play a part in their success story. The Duchess announced this initiative when she guest-edited British Vogue's September issue that year, using that platform to highlight the charity and its work. 

Meghan also mentored a young woman via video call ahead of an interview for an internship in April 2020, as Smart Works adapted its services during the height of the pandemic.

And to mark International Women's Day last year, the Duchess wrote personal notes to a number of Smart Works' clients to send her best wishes for their interviews or to offer a heartfelt congratulations on landing new roles.

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duchess of sussex smart works 2019© Photo: Getty Images

The Duchess helping to style a client during a visit to Smart Works' HQ

Through Smart Works, clients receive an outfit and styling consultation free of charge as well as a one-on-one session with an interview coach. Smart Works has a strong history of success, with 69 per cent of clients securing a job within a month of their coaching session. Once employed, Smart Works women receive a capsule wardrobe that lasts until their first pay packet. 

Archewell Foundation will also be announcing additional investments in leading non-profit organisations working to advance gender equity, including National Women's Law Center, The 19th, and The Center on Poverty and Inequality, Georgetown University Law Center.

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