live / 2019

Operation Shoes That Fit LA

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

Operation Shoes That Fit LA: a high-profile initiative with the LAPD to reach students in some of the lowest income areas of LAUSD. Having the bandwidth to deliver tens of thousands of shoes into LA, and building on our partnership with the LAPD as our “boots on the ground” for the deliveries. Their 9,000 sworn officers committed to community policing, will work with Shoes That Fit to identify, measure and deliver new athletic shoes to children at schools within their local precincts.


What does your organization do?

Shoes That Fit tackles one of the most visible signs of poverty in America by giving children in need new athletic shoes to attend school with dignity and joy, prepared to learn, play and thrive.

Please list the organizations collaborating on this proposal.

  • We will be partnering with local sports teams and the Los Angeles Police Department who will work as our liaisons working in conjunction with the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Briefly tell us a story that demonstrates how your organization turns inspiration into impact.

Shoes That Fit began in 1992 as a personal mission by an employee at one of The Claremont Colleges to help a child whose toes had been turned under to make them fit into worn-out sneakers three sizes too small. Two decades later, we are the nation’s leading non-profit provider of new athletic shoes for low-income school aged children and teens. Last year, we provided shoes for over 130,000 students across the United States.

Shoes are one of the most expensive items that families must provide for their children, but they are necessary to even attend school. With parents working to meet basic needs, too many children have no choice but to attend school with shoes that are taped together, belong to a relative, smell, or are all those at once. At Shoes That Fit, we believe that children should be able to grow up with one less worry. Our mission is to tackle one of the most visible signs of poverty in America by giving children in need new athletic shoes to attend school with dignity and joy, prepared to learn, play and thrive.

Our challenge is reflected by the staggering rate of poverty in California, which is now 20.6% — the highest in the country. Today, more than 1-in-4 children in Los Angeles, and 80% of students attending school in the LAUSD, are living in poverty. The challenges of growing up in poverty correlate with behavioral problems, lower self-esteem, and decreased educational readiness. These hurdles are placed in front of children who have absolutely no control over their personal circumstances.

Which of the live metrics will your submission impact?​

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

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

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

How will your project make LA the best place to live?

In order to carry out our program we will partner with the Los Angeles Police Department who will work with us to identify schools in their local precincts who have the highest number of children in need. The LAPD will connect with these schools, with whom they already have strong ties, and will work with the educators there to identify and then measure the children who need new athletic shoes the most.

Working with the LAUSD, the LAPD will identify schools that have high percentages of students on free or reduced cost meal programs. Educators at those schools identify and measure the students who are most in-need of new shoes. 100% of the children that will be served are from low-income families, and schools identify the children most in-need.

The program will take place from May all the way through to December. These months are crucial for the program, as May is when students begin to return to school after Summer Break and December is before they leave for the holidays. Operation Shoes That Fit LA will hold events at certain times like a Back-to-School event or a Holiday gift giving event.

Using funding provided by our donors, Shoes That Fit will purchase brand new athletic shoes for each child measured and identified. Officers in the LAPD will then function as our “boots on the ground” in the city, executing deliveries to each of the schools involved. Deliveries will take place in each school as a publicized event, where each child will be personally handed their gift of new shoes by a sworn police officer.

Shoes That Fit actively publicizes all our major events and shoe deliveries. Through the help of the sponsor groups we work with, coaches, professional athletes and celebrities we have garnered both local and national media coverage. This has allowed us to greatly expand our programs and gain new sponsor groups, who help us provide shoes for schools in their own neighborhoods. We will continue to work with local media outlets, like KTLA, to broadcast the events held for Operation Shoes That Fit LA and raise awareness about our programs. The more awareness gained, the more inspired Angelinos become to help.

The children living in this community are the future of Los Angeles. It is up to us to show them how valuable, and how valued they are. Many of these children are born into difficult situations that they have no control over, and it is more important then ever that they know there are people out there that care about them and want to help. Funding from LA2050 would be a direct investment in the children of Los Angeles - the future of Los Angeles. Through the simple act of giving new shoes, we can make this city a better place to LIVE by improving the lives of children in the city, allowing them to attend school with dignity, joy and a chance to thrive.

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Expand existing program (expanding and continuing ongoing successful projects)

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

We at Shoes That Fit define the success of our project through the number of kids we can reach and provide for throughout Los Angeles.

The success of our project will be measured through the number of children that we can reach this year and the impact on their well-being. We will also measure our ability to activate and maintain partnerships with community groups who will help us provide for children in Los Angeles well into the future. To meet these goals, Shoes That Fit regularly collects both qualitative and quantitative information. We track the number of shoes, socks and other necessities provided to each child, and survey our school liaisons, educators and volunteers on the impact that new shoes have on their students. Measurements are taken on self-esteem and confidence, participation in physical activity, behavior and academic performance.

The results from our surveys in 2018 are a testament to the success of our program: 84% of liaisons who responded to the survey reported an improvement in self-esteem among the children who received new shoes; 80% reported an improvement in confidence; 80% reported an improved attitude; and nearly 70% saw students participate more in physical activities. Above all, the words of the children we serve speak to the power of a gift of new shoes. This is reflected first hand in the thank you notes we receive year after year, with one student this year writing: “If it wasn’t for you, I would not be able to participate in physical education. I am also thankful because I would have been walking to school without shoes.”

In the 2018, we provided over 36,205 pairs of shoes, socks and other necessities to 23,887 children in Los Angeles County alone. Through the help of funding from LA2050, we can double the number of children we are able to reach in the next five years.