Sew For Hope
P.O. Box 210514
Nashville TN 37221-0514
Mission Statement
Our mission is to foster hope among refugees and other marginalized groups of people by providing a sense of worth and accomplishment, along with the ability for future earnings, through marketable sewing skills taught in our classes. Each graduate of the Basic Sewing Program receives sewing tools, a certificate of completion and a new sewing machine to begin their journey as an entrepreneur or employee. Graduates may return for an Intermediate Sewing Class or take advanced classes in various sewing fields. Finally, when graduates request sewing work, they are matched to companies and designers requesting a referral for sewing jobs.
CEO/Executive Director Ms. Rita Atkins
Co-CEO/Executive Director Lynn Creasy
Board Chair Rita Atkins
Board Chair Company Affiliation Sew For Hope Founder
History & Background
Year of Incorporation 2015
Organization's type of tax exempt status 501-C3
Financial Summary
Graph: Expense Breakdown Graph - All Years
Projected Expenses $59,082.00
Projected Annual Revenue $63,200.00 (2017)
Mission Our mission is to foster hope among refugees and other marginalized groups of people by providing a sense of worth and accomplishment, along with the ability for future earnings, through marketable sewing skills taught in our classes. Each graduate of the Basic Sewing Program receives sewing tools, a certificate of completion and a new sewing machine to begin their journey as an entrepreneur or employee. Graduates may return for an Intermediate Sewing Class or take advanced classes in various sewing fields. Finally, when graduates request sewing work, they are matched to companies and designers requesting a referral for sewing jobs.
Background Sew For Hope began when the founder, Rita Atkins, visited a job training meeting with refugees at Thriftsmart.  She was struck by how hard they worked but also how large their barriers to success were. While she knew that Nashville had a very large population of refugees, she wasn't aware of the challenges they faced. Among the largest challenges were the lack of knowledge of English and marketable skills. Since her background was in sewing and she had operated a custom sewing business since 1980, she immediately thought of sewing as a very marketable skill. The next week she came back to the meeting and asked if any of the refugees would like to learn to sew. Four Bhutanese refugees said yes and a class began in August of 2012. When the class ended the graduates were awarded a sewing machine and certificate at a graduation ceremony. However, they requested to come back for additional classes and bring friends and family. The class continued and in December, the group officially became known as "Sew For Hope, a minstry of Thriftsmart". Thriftsmart aided the group with the classroom space, mentorship and accounting services. Sew For Hope grew enough to become an independent 501(c)(3) tax exempt charitable organization. It  has continued to grow and has become recognized in the community as a resource for refugee women to have training in sewing, obtain resources, referrals for jobs and a place to meet other refugee women.
The goal is to expand the services to social enterprise and possibly a community center for women to come and sew together.
Impact In the 5 years of our existence, Sew For Hope has many accomplishments to celebrate. Among them are:
188 members of Nashville's diverse refugee community have been trained to sew and provided with sewing tools and sewing machines to begin a sewing business or seek employment in a sewing related field.A tested and proven curriculum has been developed to ensure good outcomes for all students in the sewing program.Since we have found that our Burmese refugees needed additional assistance in English skills and were most at risk for poverty, a part time Burmese interpretor/assistant instructor has been hired to work with the Burmese classes. Approximately 40% of graduates have been documented to earn income through matching them with sewing clients. However, since not all of our graduates report this information to us, we believe the percentage is probably higher.
Program Outreach: Two individuals have been trained to teach our curriculum internationally to marginalized people in Belize and Nepal.
Program Management:
To provide continuity and stability in the classroom, a full time classroom instructor/manager has been hired to oversee all of the teaching aspects of the program.
A fundraising program is being developed to provide for current and additional needs.
Future goals Sew For Hope would enable our program to expand it's reach in many different aspects. Among these are:
 Facility: Our number one goal for the year is to add more space to the 256 square feet we currently occupy. We typically have to turn away 2 for every 3 people who want to apply for our program due to lack of space. Our classroom size will hold a maximum of 4 students at a time with 2 classes a day, 4 classes per week limiting participants to to 32 per semester. With a larger facility, that number could be doubled at first and with the addition of more classroom volunteers, possibly even tripled.
Funding: Additional Funding or donated space will be needed to expand our facility. We also pay rent at a storage unit to store supplies until they are needed. Those funds could be used for program services if we had no cost storage available for our supplies. 
Client/Graduate Program: To ensure better consistency, we would like to put a formal client/graduate program into place with a full time paid employee to manage the program.  We provide these services on a limited basis by a volunteer but would like to expand to serve additional clients/graduates with continuity and consistency in the processes.Social Enterprise Program: The addition of a social enterprise sewing program to employ graduates and provide income for the program through sales of a bag that has been designed by students is in the research phase.
Needs The most pressing need for Sew For Hope is a larger facility to expand capacity. We currently rent 256 square feet at Thriftsmart and teach 32 students per semester but would be able to double or, with the assistance of additional volunteer staff, possibly triple the number of participants with 1000 square feet of classroom space. At an estimated $10-15 per square ft. for the same general area, the cost would be approximately $10,000 to $15,000 per year. Utilities would add an estimated $4000 to that figure.
A part time Client/Graduate Liason is needed to work with the many companies and designers to assist graduates in being successful in producing sewn goods for income. An estimated salary of $15,000 is needed.
A part time Social Enterprise Manager is needed to work with developing and managing a social enterprise to provide employment for graduates and income for the program. An estimated salary would be $15,000.
The client/graduate liason and social enterprise manager could be combined into one full time job at an estimated cost of $30,000 annually.
Other ways to donate, support, or volunteer Checks may be mailed to Sew For Hope, PO Box 210514, Nashville, TN 37221-0514.
Credit or debit card donations may be processed on our website at or by phone at 615-540-4411.
In-kind donations of sewing related materials (fabric, notions, patterns, sewing machines, sergers, embroidery machines, thread, sewing books,  are accepted at 4890 Nolensville Pk. Nashville, TN 37211. Please call 615-540-4411 to make an appointment for drop off.
We love volunteers. If you have a skill you would like to offer that is not listed, please email or call 615-540-4411.
 Sort and organize donations of sewing items
Test donated sewing machinesAssist with registration
Prepare classroom kitsClient liason for students
Assist in a sewing classBe a substitute teacher when needed
Teach an advanced class in your area of expertiseEvent PlanningSocial MediaMarketingTeach an ESL class
Service Categories
Primary Organization Category Human Services / Ethnic/Immigrant Services
Secondary Organization Category Employment / Job Training
Tertiary Organization Category Education / Adult Education
Areas of Service
Areas Served
TN - Davidson
TN - Williamson
TN - Rutherford
TN - Cheatham
TN - Robertson
TN - Sumner
TN - Wilson
Sew For Hope serves the refugee population in Middle Tennessee, primarily located in the Nolensville Pk corridor but accepts people from Davidson and surrounding counties.
Description In the Sewing Training Program, participants learn the basic sewing skills to create sewn items in several different categories. Graduates must pass a final hands-on exam that ensures that they have retained the information taught. Graduates are given a certificate and sewing machine at a graduation ceremony where they wear the dress they made in class. Graduates may return to take intermediate and advanced classes.
Budget 63,200
Category Employment, General/Other Job Training & Employment
Population Served Immigrant, Newcomers, Refugees, Females, At-Risk Populations
Short Term Success We see women being uplifted each day when they realize they are capable of learning a skill that can make a difference in theirs and their family's lives.
Long term Success Refugees coming to the US often do not have applicable or marketable job skills for becoming employed. Sew For Hope will foster learning of sewing skills for entrepreneurship, employment, etc. Also, this will provide the Nashville Fashion industry with qualified people to make their products.
Program Success Monitored By
Graduates must pass a very comprehensive final exam on the topics taught in class before graduating. We can tell if the program curriculum and instructors are performing properly by the results of the exams.
We also match graduates to designers and companies who need items sewn. The satisfaction of their customers is also a good indicator on the success of the program.
Examples of Program Success In Spring 2016 we found that 40% of our graduates had documented income earned as a result of the program. Since many of our graduates do not return for advanced classes, this figure does not include any who have graduated but not reported income back to us.
Description Many designers and small  companies request a referral of our graduates to sew their products. We assist by matching them to graduates showing skill in the areas they request. So far, not including full time workers at factories our students have been documented to have earned over $88,000 through this program. When full time employment estimates are added the figure climbs to over $300,000 that students have earned because of Sew For Hope's placement program. Currently this program is lead by a volunteer at no cost but has grown large enough that a part time employee needs to be hired. We estimate that the hired manager will cost $15,000 to hire a part time manager with an additional $10,000 for administrative costs.
Budget 25,000
Category Employment, General/Other Job Training & Employment
Population Served Females, Immigrant, Newcomers, Refugees, At-Risk Populations
Short Term Success By the end of a semester and graduation we believe 100% of our graduates who request work referrals will be able to be employed with the addition of a part time manager to assist in job placements.
Long term Success We believe that we will be able to place every graduate who seeks employment with an employer. Due to the limited time of a volunteer, we cannot serve all the people requesting referrals of our students. We will be able to increase capacity by double or triple with a part time manager at $15,000 and administrative costs of $10,000 for a total of $25,000.
Program Success Monitored By We should be able to measure the success of the program by keeping records of amount earned, people employed, length of employment, and satisfaction of the customer. So far, not including full time workers at sewing factories, our students have been documented to have earned over $88,000 through this referral program. When full time employment estimates are added the figure climbs to over $300,000 that students have earned because of Sew For Hope's placement program.
Examples of Program Success Donna Durham of Weighted Comforts hires 6 of our graduates to work for her making Weighted Blankets. Previously operating the business as piecework from their homes, Donna has opened up a manufacturing facility and has hired additional people. Because of training from Sew For Hope and our referral program, these 9 ladies are earning income for their families through sewing the weighted blankets for Weighting Comforts.
Description Through a social enterprise that employs our graduates we can help ensure the sustainablity of Sew For Hope through funds generated from the sale of a bag designed by our students. Our Butterfly Bag is a bag made from donated fabric and is convertible from a shoulder bag to messenger bag to backpack. It has a specially designed zipper that when unzipped makes the bag larger.
Budget 48,000
Category Employment, General/Other Job Training & Employment
Population Served Immigrant, Newcomers, Refugees, Females, Unemployed, Underemployed, Dislocated
Short Term Success 100% of the women in the program will earn income from making our Butterfly Bag.
Long term Success Refugees face many challenges when coming to the United States. The biggest hurdle is finding jobs when they have no applicable marketable job skills. Sew For Hope trains refugee women and provides them a sewing machine at graduation so they can create their own custom sewing business. With this social enterprise. women will be trained to make our "Butterfly Bag" in a class, paid to make the bags at home then taught how to process and ship orders. This will provide them income while teaching them how to become entrepreneurs. Through an alliance with a local university Social Entrepreneurship students will be involved to help with marketing and administration for the program.
Program Success Monitored By Success will be monitored by records of actual income received by the women for producing our Butterfly Bag. Reviews of the product by consumers will also reflect the quality of training of the women making the bags.
Examples of Program Success We feel that when women in the program share testimonies of impact from the boost in self esteem along with income earned from the program, we will be able to show how their lives and lives of their families are improved by the training and income from producing the bags.
CEO Comments The sewing program is very limited in capacity by the space constraints of our current facility. We could double or triple current capacity with additional classroom and storage space. We are investigating additional space and how funding can be obtained to procure the space.
Board Chair
Board Chair Rita Atkins
Company Affiliation Sew For Hope Founder
Term Nov 2015 to Nov 2018
Board Members
Rita Atkins Sew For Hope FounderVoting
Lynn Creasy Community VolunteerVoting
Tina Deloach Sew For Hope Volunteer InstructorVoting
William (Buz) Graham Christ Presbyterian Church ChaplainVoting
Danny Herron Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville president and CEOVoting
Sissy Simmons Lipscomb University, Adjunct Professor Fashion DesignVoting
Rob Touchstone Lipscomb University, Director/Professor of Missional Entrepreneurship in the College of Business, Co-Founder of The Well CoffeehouseVoting
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 6
Hispanic/Latino 1
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 3
Female 4
Unspecified 0
Board Term Lengths 2
Board Term Limits 10
Board Meeting Attendance % 100%
Does the organization have written Board Selection Criteria? Under Development
Does the organization have a written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage of Board Members making Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage of Board Members making In-Kind Contributions 100%
Does the Board include Client Representation? No
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 6
Standing Committees
Program / Program Planning
CEO Comments Members of our Board of Directors have many opportunities to contribute in areas of their expertise and experience. We are grateful for their dedication to our mission and willingness to guide Sew For Hope.
 We do not foresee any immediate challenges to our governance.
Executive Director/CEO
Executive Director Ms. Rita Atkins
Term Start Nov 2015

Rita Atkins began her sewing career at a very young age, making doll clothes with her mother’s scraps, a needle and thread. She has enjoyed sewing since then and has continued her education in sewing throughout junior high, high school, college and later at a local design/sewing school. With a BS degree in Home Economics and Biology from Lipscomb University (1977) she continued learning the art of heirloom sewing and design at Watkins Institute. She has owned and operated a sewing business since 1980 specializing in custom heirloom children’s clothing that has been sold in upper end children’s boutiques in Nashville and through her online store. Her award winning designs have been published in Sew Beautiful Magazine.

While she loved creating beautiful heirloom children’s clothing, she felt drawn to share her sewing and business knowledge with others who could benefit from those skills. In the fall of 2012 she began working with 4 Bhutanese refugees upon the invitation of Thriftsmart, a local nonprofit thrift store who provided space for the group. Soon those ladies brought their friends. In four years, under her volunteer leadership, she has managed volunteers, worked with over 156 refugees and has a continual stream of people who want to be a part of the program.

She has served on the Board of Directors for The Belize Project and through that connection helped set up a sewing ministry in Belize. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her husband, three grown children, and three grandchildren, traveling and sewing.

Co-CEO Lynn Creasy
Term Start Nov 2015

Lynn Creasy became aware of the needs of those in the international refugee community while volunteering as a nurse at a local health clinic in Nashville. At the clinic, she began to observe some of the concerns refugees had beyond healthcare needs. As a result, when she heard about Sew for Hope and its mission from Rita, she began volunteering with that ministry in March of 2013. From an early age she saw the value of learning how to sew. Her grandmother was a Home Economics teacher who passed her knowledge to her family as well as to her students. Growing up in a military family Lynn was accustomed to seeing her mother make a house into a home every time they moved, by furnishing it with curtains and other decor. While in college at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro Lynn took several Home Economics classes before graduating with a BS in Nursing.

Sew for Hope has been a way for Lynn to combine working with those in the refugee community and teaching some of the skills she learned earlier in life. Her involvement has centered around teaching the Sew for Hope curriculum to beginners. She also emphasizes speaking English in class so her clients can become proficient in both their sewing and their language skills. She says, “It has been rewarding to see our students learn a skill so they can gain employment to help support their families or to use their new found skills in their homes. Some of our students have then passed those skills on to their children. In addition, they are brought into community with each other while acclimating to a new culture. ”

Full Time Staff 0
Part Time Staff 2
Volunteers 8
Contractors 1
Retention Rate 0%
Plans & Policies
Does the organization have a documented Fundraising Plan? Under Development
Does the organization have an approved Strategic Plan? Under Development
Number of years Strategic Plan Considers N/A
In case of a change in leadership, is a Management Succession plan in place? Under Development
Does the organization have a Policies and Procedures Plan? Under Development
Does the organization have a Nondiscrimination Policy? Under Development
Nashville Social Enterprise Alliance2016
Volunteer Innovator FinalistMary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards2014
Andrus Volunteer FinalistAARP2014
Volunteer Direct Service 50+Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards2015
Redemption Through InnovationNashville Institute for Faith and Work2017
Volunteer of the MonthDoingGood.tv2015
Senior Staff
Title Classroom Manager
Experience/Biography Katherine Mock is a 2017 graduate of Christopher Newport University with a BA in Sociology with a concentration in Anthropology. She has  conducted formal ethnographic field work with the topic of "Making a Home: An ethnographic study of refugees adjusting to living
in America." Katherine traveled to various locations and conducted interviews and analyzed content for her research.
She has traveled worldwide including Congo where she developed an Inclusion Program at a Congo Camp, resolved conflicts between campers, aiding children with special needs to navigate camp activities
She has studied abroad in Morocco where she studied Intermediate Arabic I along with "Women and Gender: Case of Morocco:
As a member of the Christopher Newport University Chamber Choir she traveled to Salzburg, Austria, Munich, Germany, Rome and Venice, Italy.
Katie's experience with international travels combined with her research with refugees, knowledge of speaking Arabic and sewing skills learned from her mother at a young age will aid her with her work in the classroom at Sew For Hope. 
CEO Comments We are a new organization seeking to expand its capacity to serve its targeted population.  Facility space, strategic hiring, and management of volunteers are needed in order to achieve the desired program expansion.
Fiscal Year
Fiscal Year Start Jan 01 2017
Fiscal Year End Dec 31 2017
Projected Revenue $63,200.00
Projected Expenses $59,082.00
Endowment Spending Policy N/A
Detailed Financials
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201620152014
Program Expense$0$0--
Administration Expense$0$0--
Fundraising Expense$0$0--
Payments to Affiliates$0$0--
Total Revenue/Total Expenses------
Program Expense/Total Expenses------
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue------
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201620152014
Total Assets$0$0--
Current Assets$0$0--
Long-Term Liabilities$0$0--
Current Liabilities$0$0--
Total Net Assets$0$0--
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities------
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets------
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201620152014
Top Funding Source & Dollar Amount -- ----
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount -- ----
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount -- ----
Form 990s
IRS Letter of Exemption
Capital Campaign
Is the organization currently conducting a Capital Campaign for an endowment or the purchase of a major asset? No
State Charitable Solicitations Permit
TN Charitable Solicitations Registration Yes - Expires June 2018
Organizational Budgets and Other Documents
2017 Budget2017
Organization Comments Being a very new 501(c)(3) Sew For Hope faces challenges in attracting a group of committed donors. We are currently in the development phase of a 5 year strategic plan and a fundraising plan. We hope to have it in place by mid 2017. Space is our biggest constraint for building capacity for our program. If we acquire additional space, unless it is donated space, it will bring a need for additional funding. Financial Comments

This organization filed a 990-N form with the IRS, which does not provide specific financial information. Most small tax-exempt organizations whose annual gross receipts are normally $50,000 or less ($25,000 for tax years ending after December 31, 2007 and before December 31, 2010) are required to electronically submit Form 990-N, also known as the e-Postcard, unless they choose to file a complete Form 990 or Form 990-EZ instead.

Kathryn Bennett 3/1/17.
Nonprofit Sew For Hope
Address P.O. Box 210514
Nashville, TN 37221 0514
Primary Phone (615) 540-4411
Contact Email
CEO/Executive Director Ms. Rita Atkins
Board Chair Rita Atkins
Board Chair Company Affiliation Sew For Hope Founder
Year of Incorporation 2015

Related Information

Refugees and Immigrants

The phenomenal growth of Tennessee’s foreign-born population, and the opportunities and challenges this has presented for newcomers and the state, has brought Tennessee into the national spotlight in recent years. During the 1990s, the foreign-born population in Nashville tripled. Meanwhile, the number of foreign-born people statewide grew by 169%, making our state a larger magnet for immigrants, by percentage, than larger cities like New York and Los Angeles. In the year 2000, 45% of Nashville’s foreign-born residents had been in the United States less than five years. Catholic Charities of Tennessee resettled 648 refugees in Middle TN in 2010 alone.

Cultural and Ethnic Diversity

The United States stands out among nations as a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities. Demographers predict that by 2050, no single majority group will exist in the United States. Diversity is a key part of Middle Tennessee’s past, present and future. Nashville, especially, is a model of the American "melting pot," with an active Native American population, thriving Hispanic community and growing Middle Eastern and Asian presence. Different cultures, religions, ideas and customs come together harmoniously in Music City.

Adult Literacy

If you can read this, you can fill out an application, write a check, shop for groceries, read to a child, and understand the bus schedule. What if you couldn’t? On top of that, what would happen if you couldn’t speak English? Renting an apartment and going to the doctor would be come terrifying and overwhelming. 44 million adults in the United States are unable to even read a simple story to a child, and 1 out of 5 Nashville adults is functionally illiterate.

Workforce Development

With global competition, technological changes and the growth of knowledge- and service-based economies, even entry-level jobs require more advanced skills than they did several decades ago. There is great demand for workers with education, skills training or both, but jobs that require only a high school diploma are disappearing, or the wages they pay are dropping. Schools offer limited vocational training, and graduates often lack the practical job skills employers need.