Vans on Tuesday announced its annual Checkerboard Day, the company’s celebration of creativity and global communities, will be held on Nov. 18.
The California-based footwear brand under VF Corp. held its first Checkerboard Day in 2019 and partnered with and donated $1 million to Imagination.org, a global nonprofit fostering creativity and entrepreneurship in children around the world, which helped form more than 100 new chapters by October 2020.
This year, Vans will donate at least $1 million to support global charities focused on uplifting local communities through sports, art and more. The charities include DoSomething.org, GoodPush, Groundswell, Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, Colectivo Tomate, Nations Skate Youth, Dignity for Children, Another Way of Seeing, ArtDream, Skateboard Academy, Hackney Bumps, Juju Surf Club, Indigo Youth Movement, Girls in Film, Jukebox Collective and The Hub.
“I would say that Vans is a purpose-driven organization,” said Doug Palladini, Vans’ global brand president. “With Imagination.org in 2019, we gave $1 million so they could open as many chapters as they possibly could, but also create more platforms to help kids. There has been such a push behind science, technology, math and it’s all great, but we think an important hand to that equation is creativity for kids and that could be photography or drama, surfing or skateboarding. Kids expressing their creativity is an important part of humanity.”
Palladini said Vans is continuing that mission with this year’s Checkerboard Day by going beyond just making donations and following with action.
The annual event is one of many initiatives Vans established to uplift communities through creativity. Vans recently partnered with four rising Latine artists for its “So Much More” initiative. In February, the brand launched a limited footwear capsule with four Black artists, donated $40,000 to the Black Arts Future Fund, an organization enhancing the future of Black arts and culture, and spotlighted three Black-owned businesses as part of its then reintroduced “Foot the Bill” program supporting small businesses impacted by COVID-19.
The second annual Checkerboard Day in 2020 was held virtually also due to the pandemic and challenged creative’s to make something new from Vans shoeboxes, which resulted in cardboard timepieces and flying planes among other creations. “Arby’s did a menagerie of an Arby’s location,” Palladini added. “Sometimes it’s just a good diversion when all you’re hearing is bad news. Sometimes you just need a diversion.”
The brand also donated more than $1 million to 10 global charities supporting mental health and well-being, including Get Lit-Words Ignite, Arte Por La Vida and Singapore Association for Mental Health.
Palladini continued about the company’s commitment to inclusion, “I believe our commitment starts at home. We have to take an honest assessment and see how we can do better with our employees. In understanding our shortcomings, we were able to address issues with diversity.”
Palladini did not remark on how business has been for Vans, preferring to wait for the earnings release, but said the brand remains purpose driven. “If you do that well, you create a lasting relationship and that’s where our growth has come from over the last 55 years and will be going forward.”
He added that Vans is focused on being a “fully consumer-centric brand,” and is leaning into its direct-to-consumer expertise and leadership to be a hyper digital brand. “We launched a Vans World metaverse on co-experience platform Roblox and now we’re beginning to feature digital products so that allows our fans on Roblox to join our world there.”