Foot Locker, New Balance and Pensole Launch a Design Program Offering Opportunity to Underrepresented People in Footwear

Pensole Design Academy has launched yet another program alongside industry heavyweights to help fulfill the dreams of young footwear and apparel design enthusiasts.

Foot Locker, New Balance and Pensole have created “Designing With Sole,” a program aimed at offering opportunities to those who are underrepresented in the industry and are interested in footwear and apparel design and marketing. The effort, according to the design academy, will create a path for underrepresented voices in the industry, which includes outreach and support of the Black community and its supporters, and will be offered at no cost to the participants.

“Foot Locker and New Balance have both worked with Pensole on very successful programs. This year, we’re focusing on aspiring designers in communities that have long supported sneaker culture but sadly have been uninvolved in its product creation. ‘Designing With Sole’ will be a significant step in correcting that inequity,” Pensole founder D’Wayne Edwards said in a statement.

Registration is now open via Pensole.com, and will come to a close on June 7. Once the online registration comes to an end, Pensole and New Balance will select 160 people from the submissions, and will reveal the finalists on June 21.

The first portion of the program will begin online on June 28 and come to an end on July 23. After this portion comes to an end, 60 students will be selected for a 12-week learn by doing program. Here, the students will group in teams and be introduced to product creation process curriculum. It will feature insights from New Balance design directors, designers, design recruiters, technicians and developers.

Then, the top 10 students will attend an in-person course at New Balance, and at the end of the class, those in North America will have the chance to land a paid internship with Foot Locker and New Balance.

“Inspiring and empowering youth culture includes investing in their future and uplifting the voices of those who haven’t been heard,” Foot Locker chairman and CEO Dick Johnson said in a statement. “As part of our $200 million commitment to support the Black community, we’re proud to work with great brands like New Balance and Pensole on the creation of programs like these, which create opportunity and open doors within our industry that have been closed for too many.”

Although the year is still young, Pensole has been busy with educational initiatives. Prior to revealing this program with Foot Locker and New Balance, the design academy announced in late-April that it had joined forces with Allbirds on the Better Responsible Design program, created to offer a diverse group of 20 designers access to industry experts and professional instruction. The focus, according to Pensole, is to equip future designers with tools to create environmentally-conscious work.

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