Vans Grants Funds Raised From Checkerboard Day to Imagination.org
Written By: Jordan Nishkian
Photography Provided By: Beau Roulette – Vans Checkerboard Day
On Dec. 3, Vans handed over a (literally) giant check to Imagination.org. The streetwear company’s $1M donation will go towards forming over 100 new global Imagination Chapters by Oct. 2020 as well as sustain over 150 existing chapters, which currently span over 20 countries and bring the power of Creative Play to over 10,000 children.
Vans’ inaugural Checkerboard Day, held on Nov. 21, was a celebration for friends, fans and family of the brand to come together and support a worthy cause—raising funds to encourage creative expression around the world. The organization that received the grant, Imagination.org, is a non-profit which “finds, fosters and funds creativity and entrepreneurship in children around the world.”
To commemorate the grant, Imagination.org, the Vans team and Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris gathered at Vans HQ in Costa Mesa to proudly address their pride in the outcome of Checkerboard Day and their hopes for a more creative future.
“Checkerboard Day was never about ticking a box of philanthropy for this company,” April Vitkus, Vans Senior Director of Global Brand Marketing, said. She also brought up the success of their new hashtag, #vanscheckerboardday. “It’s not about one day of creativity—it’s about starting a movement.”
Kim Matsoukas, Vans Sr. Manager of Sustainability & Social Responsibility, agreed, “Even though Checkerboard Day was one day, we’re committed to 365 days a year.” She then announced that during all global “Vans brand activations,” there will be a formalized “give-back” of some sort. Matsoukas also introduced the Checkerboard Fund, a simple way “to support nonprofit organizations in North America that enable creative self-expression through art, music, action sports or street culture.”
Then, Nirvan Mullick, Founder of Imagination.org, took the floor, expressing his gratitude for the grant and what it means for his organization. “Creativity’s been declining in our culture since the ‘90s,” he explained. But his goal is to spark the next generation’s creativity, preparing them for “jobs that don’t even exist yet.” “Less people think they’re creative,” he said. ”[Creativity’s] like Vans checkerboard…once you start looking for it, you see it everywhere.”
After Mullick stated that he “is looking forward to a year of creative impact” thanks to the grant, Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris also commended Vans’ continued support of the community. “Vans is such an incredible partner for our community.” she addressed the team warmly. “You do so much for Orange County…our children and community.”
Once the mic and the check was handed over, Vitkus and Matsoukas rung the Vans bell, ringing and rippling across waves of applause from the crowd and Matsoukas’ closing statement: “Go be creative!”