FN Virtual Summit: It Took a Pandemic

For 80 years, the Two Ten Footwear Foundation has been helping shoe people in need, and in 2020, that need has been greater than ever.

Amidst the coronavirus crisis, footwear employees have been faced with record levels of unemployment due to lay offs. Because of this Two Ten has seen a huge increase in crisis relief applications: 6,600 to be exact.

“The pandemic forced our organization to focus on our core mission,” Two Ten CEO and president Shawn Osborne told FN’s Samantha McDonald during FN’s Virtual Summit: The Way Ahead today. “We have really focused on new technology to handle the ten-fold increase.”

As part of the discussion, titled, “It Took a Pandemic,” Osborne talked about the importance of a financial safety net.

Since COVID-19 hit in March, the non-profit sent out 4,300 grants worth $2.6 million. Looking ahead, Osborne predicts that the need could rise between $5 to $10 million as the pandemic continues to surge. Demographic-wise, 72% of grantees are women, with the majority being a person of color and single mother working in retail, Osbourne added.

“[This is] all hands on deck,” he said. “This is going to help people become more aware that Two Ten is a must-have program for footwear employees.”

What’s more important now is creating a model addressing employee financial insecurity, with Two Ten integrating with footwear companies’ benefits programs rather than being at arm’s length, Osborne explained.

“And it would be customized. Companies can decide what constitutes a crisis or hardships. This model created a culture of caring and it will help acquire and retain great talent.”

At this point, Two Ten has remained steadfast on aiding those impacted by the crisis’ challenges and all other programs have been put on hold. (Its scholarship fund, however, will continue as $800,000 is still expected to be dispersed to 200 students.)

FN’s Virtual Summit, sponsored by Klarna, was held in partnership with FFANY, FDRA and Two Ten Footwear Foundation.

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