Prom is a milestone event for many high school students—but, like any formal occasion, it can be stressful.

Factors such as attire, hair, makeup, transportation and the cost of it all contribute to the pressure surrounding prom.

In an effort to alleviate that stress, nonprofits Howards 4 Hope and Project X LB have collaborated to ensure that 12 seniors from Cabrillo High School got the chance to experience a stress-free prom on Saturday during the second annual “Pretty and Poised” event.

Donations gathered by Howards 4 Hope allowed students to choose from a selection of over 40 dresses. Once they found their perfect dress, alterations and shoes were provided.

On the day of prom, the seniors were treated to a complete makeover thanks to a partnership between Project X LB and Allure Beauty and Brows. Cabrillo senior Wendy Garcia said she opted for a classic gold makeup look to complement her white dress.

Makeup artist Hannah Jones preps Cabrillo High School senior Wendy Garcia before applying her prom night makeup on Saturday, May 20, 2023. Photo by Jackie Rae

Garcia was shopping for a prom dress—the cost of which was around $300, not including alterations, shoes or jewelry—when a staff member at Cabrillo High School told her about the Pretty and Poised event.

After she was selected to receive a free dress, Garcia said, “My parents were happy.”

Makeup artist Hannah Jones puts the finishing touches on Wendy Garcia’s makeup before Cabrillo High School Senior prom on Saturday, May 20, 2023. Photo by Jackie Rae
Project X LB founder Marcus Hobbs, Howards 4 Hope co-founder LaCreashia Howard and Latavia Nicole with Allure Beauty & Brows on Saturday, May 20, 2023 at the second annual “Pretty and Poised” event. Photo by Jackie Rae

To be selected, participating students needed to have a GPA of 2.0 or higher and fall under the federal Title I desgination, according to Project X LB founder Marcus Hobbs. Title I students come from lower-income families.

“We had to consider parents have multiple kids,” Hobbs said. “To spend or save for this momentous event—and then have to take care of other family—is definitely a burden.”

While there were nothing but smiles as young women trickled in throughout the day to receive their makeovers, Hobbs said there is one area that is cause for disappointment. Of the 12 participating students, none were Black. Hobbs expressed hope that by providing more notice and representation, they would be able to include more Black students next year.

Hobbs is also hoping to offer suits and haircuts for young men next year, and he encourages anyone capable of donating or offering assistance to contact him now via the Project X LB website or Instagram page.