live / 2018

Equal Footing LA: Providing New Shoes For Kids In Need

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Activation Challenge by Shoes That Fit

Too many kids in LA are missing school because they don’t have shoes—or being bullied because they are wearing inappropriate shoes. We will provide brand new athletic shoes to LAUSD school children.

Please describe the activation your organization seeks to launch.

We will work with LAUSD schools to identify the students (K-12) in need of shoes. Kids cannot attend school without shoes, can’t participate in PE without athletic shoes, and can’t focus on their academics when they are embarrassed or in pain. We helped 108,000 last year, but the need in Los Angeles is enormous. With funding from LA 2050, we will launch a program to help over 10,000 children in LA immediately, and build infrastructure for years to come.

Which of the live metrics will your activation impact?​

  • Number of households below the self-sufficiency standard
  • Prevalence of adverse childhood experiences

Will your proposal impact any other LA2050 goal categories?

  • LA is the best place to LEARN

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • San Gabriel Valley
  • San Fernando Valley
  • South LA
  • Westside
  • South Bay
  • City of Los Angeles

How will your activation mobilize Angelenos?

  • Encourage businesses to change practices
  • Connect Angelenos with impactful volunteer opportunities
  • Increase donations to organizations and causes

Describe in greater detail how your activation will make LA the best place to live?

The children in our community need to know that they are important and we believe in them. For too long in LA, we have ignored these children’s needs and neglected to send this message. Funding from LA2050 will provide a direct investment in the children of Los Angeles—the future of LA—and make the city a better place to LIVE by dramatically improve the lives of these children, many of whom have never owned a new pair of shoes.

Shoes are so much more than shoes. The gift of new shoes can be a transformative experience for young children, many of whom have never received a new box of anything before, certainly not expensive shoes. With the support of their community, children grow to be better citizens—better Angelinos. This sentiment is best captured in the following thank you note: “Thank you so much for the shoes you are giving me. This is amazing what you are doing… You are going to make a lot of kids happy and you are showing me what kind of person I want to be when I grow up.”

Our program provides a meaningful, concrete way for individuals, businesses, and community organizations to make a real difference in what can often seem an overwhelming problem—child poverty. We believe that most people want to make a difference but feel overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the problems we face. Shoes That Fit offers a solution by connecting people to schools in their own backyards; we operate wherever we have people who want to make a difference. Year after year, our volunteers return to help schools in their own neighborhoods, often increasing their support and buying more shoes for more kids. Helping children empowers our volunteers, provides a sense of pride in their community, and empowers them to make a real impact on the daily life of children in need. Ultimately, it creates a more engaged community, and a better LA.

Unfortunately, the inner city of LA is so large and has such high poverty rates that it does not have the number of local support groups we find in other communities. Yet Southern California has an enormous concentration of wealth and social conscience. Being based in Southern California, our number one goal is to increase the number of children we reach in Los Angeles so that we create a more thriving community now and for future generations. Together, we can inspire the next generation of Angelinos through the simple gift of a new pair of shoes.

How will your activation engage Angelenos to make LA the best place to live

We need Angelinos to have a direct hand in helping the children of LA. To accomplish this, we will be working with educators from the over 900 schools in the LAUSD. Our staff will work with teachers, school nurses, counselors, staff and volunteers to identify, measure, and deliver shoes for children most in need.

We will engage Angelinos and provide the opportunity for groups of any kind—churches, businesses, book clubs, families and friends—to start their own Shoes That Fit chapters. By starting a local chapter, groups can work with Shoes That Fit staff, who will liaise with local schools in the community so those groups can get shoes to the kids that need them most. Angelinos want to help—we know there is a problem with child poverty—but often don’t know where to begin. We offer that opportunity for those who want to make a difference.

Shoes That Fit actively publicizes major events and shoe deliveries. With the help of celebrities, professional athletes and coaches, and the many sponsor groups we work with, we have received local and national media coverage. These efforts have helped inspire new sponsor groups to fund shoes for schools in their own neighborhoods, wherever that may be. We will continue to work with local media outlets, like KTLA, to broadcast the work that so many Angelinos are doing to make the difference in the lives of children through a new pair of shoes, so that they attend school with their classmates with dignity, able to learn, play and thrive.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your activation.​

Success is providing more shoes to more kids who need them throughout Los Angeles.

We track the number of new kids we reach, the impact on their wellbeing, and our ability to activate sustained groups within the community to work on behalf of children well into the future. We survey the teachers and volunteers who identify the children, and observe how transformative a new pair of shoes can be.

The results speak to the power of investing in our youth. When kids get new shoes, teachers report improved attendance, increased participation in the classroom and in PE; but above all, over 84% of the teachers report increased self-esteem in the kids who receive new shoes—sometimes the only new thing they have ever received. For kids, shoes are so much more than shoes—they give hope, self-confidence, and dignity. This is reflected first hand in the thank you notes we receive year after year, one student writing: “Thank you so much for donating shoes to me. I feel really good… because the other pair I have hurts when I walk. Your gift to me will help me play games better and do better in school because I won’t go into school feeling bad about how dirty my shoes are.”

In 2017, we provided over 21,000 pairs of shoes and other necessities to 15,000 children at 420 schools in Los Angeles County alone. With LA 2050 funding we can immediately serve another 10,000 kids in LA and build an infrastructure for years to come.

Where do you hope this activation or your organization will be in five years?

Last year we were able to provide over 21,500 shoes, socks and other necessities for 15,000 children in Los Angeles County. Last year, we adopted a strategic plan to double our yearly impact over the next five years.