Converse Gives Young Creatives a Chance to Win a Year’s Worth of Funding as Part of $1 Million Accelerator Program

For the first time, Converse is expanding its All Stars program to the public — and giving it a boost to the tune of $1 million.

The sneaker brand announced today that it will open up the program to the masses this fall and invite up to 250 individuals to join its All Stars community. It previously discovered members through a “grassroots” selection over the course of the past two years and currently has more than 3,000 members in more than 27 cities across the world.

As part of the program, new members will have the opportunity to participate in a series of workshops, conversations and performances. The most recent event, it said, saw participation from Off-White founder Virgil Abloh, “Insecure” actress Issa Rae and Dazed Media creative director Jefferson Hack.

“With the All Star Series, we’re able to share this amazing creative curriculum,” CMO Jesse Stollak said in a statement. “The programming is designed to provide access to real-world advice, building confidence and getting valuable feedback on ideas.”

What’s more, Converse announced the launch of a $1 million accelerator to help fast track the progress of a select number of members whose creative work is centered on sustainability, inclusivity, diversity and youth development. It explained that the idea of selecting so-called Converse All Star Captains was conceived by the All Stars community over the course of nine months.

To be eligible to join the All Stars program, applicants will have to submit individual proposals to Converse from Sept. 28 to Oct. 16. (Each person must be at least 18 years old.) The company expects to notify new members between October through November.

Then, in October, all members of the All Stars program will have the chance to pitch another round of proposals to the brand. Converse will select Captains from that pool of proposals. Beginning in 2021, the first annual class of Captains will receive a year’s worth of funding for their ideas, along with mentorship opportunities and more.

“We know there’s massive inequalities in access to careers within creativity,” Stollak said. “If we create new pipelines of experience, we can open an engine for youth opportunity.”

He added, “It is about giving creatives across mediums opportunities to accelerate and amplify the impact they are trying to make for themselves and for their communities.”

Access exclusive content