Kurt Geiger has launched the “Kindness Foundation,” a new charity dedicated to giving young people the resources needed to enter creative industries.
Unveiled today at an event at The Conduit in London, the British footwear and accessories company said in a statement that the charity’s primary aim is to make creative roles more accessible for young individuals, particularly those from marginalized communities who are often prevented from considering a career in their field of passion due to existing systems of discrimination.
“Kindness has been at the heart of Kurt Geiger from the very beginning; in fact, we say we’re ‘kind by design.’ We’ve learned so much through this journey and decided it was time for us to formalize this part of our identity by establishing the Kindness Foundation,” Neil Clifford, Kurt Geiger’s CEO and trustee of the Kindness Foundation, said in a statement.
Clifford added that the company is setting up the foundation as a fully independent charitable vehicle to be more strategic and wide-reaching with the company’s impact. “We’re really excited for this launch and are looking forward to seeing the opportunities it brings to aspiring young creatives,” Clifford added.
Looking ahead, the company said it hopes to raise £1 million (or about $1.15 million at current exchange) annually to be re-deployed into the charity programs to support young individuals. The foundation will be funded through the purchases made by its customers; for every eligible online and in-store purchase, Kurt Geiger will donate £1 to the Kindness Foundation.
It will also be funded by the new Kurt Cares Loyalty program, designed by the company to cultivate a stronger sense of community within the brand’s customer base. The loyalty program is open for all customers to join and, for every purchase made by a member, Kurt Geiger will donate between £1 to £3 to the Foundation, depending on each member’s loyalty tier level. The higher the level of the customer, the more Kurt Geiger will donate on their behalf.
The Kindness Foundation’s strategy will include conserving some funds as a crisis response stream that enables to quickly respond to national and global emergencies, the company added. This builds on the philanthropic work previously undertaken by Kurt Geiger, including its response to the Ukraine crisis, where it pledged a donation of £50,000 (about $57,000) in addition to funds raised from the sales of the ‘Peace And Love Kensington’ bag, to the British Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal.
To bring its mission to life, the company said that the Foundation has joined forces with several social impact initiatives and charity partners, across both the UK and the U.S., who work with young people aged 13 to 25 to provide practical career support and opportunities.
Founding charity partners include Accumulate – The Art School for the Homeless, JE Delve, a grassroots youth charity founded by the late Jamal Edwards MBE; Arts Emergency, an award-winning mentoring charity and support network; Art Start, supporting historically marginalized youth; and Gurls Talk, a non-profit promoting the mental health and wellbeing of adolescent girls and young women.
Members of the Kindness Foundation board include two independent trustees, Bernadette Hagans and Jeremiah Emmanuel BEM. Hagans is a charity campaigner, model and cancer survivor who had her leg amputated at 22-years-old to save her life, and Emmanuel is an entrepreneur, community campaigner, ambassador and author who, at 17, was the youngest Black British person to receive an honor from the Queen in 2017 for his community work.
“Welcoming Bernadette and Jeremiah as independent trustees on our Foundation board was very important to us,” added Clifford. “Not only did it feel particularly befitting having them back after their participation in our ‘People Empowered’ campaign two years prior, it felt key that we were able to learn from their knowledge and draw on their genuine passion for supporting the next generation.”
This launch follows other kindness-driven initiatives by Kurt Geiger including pledging £300,000 to footwear specialist college, Cordwainers, in 2013, helping to support emerging footwear designers through a bespoke mentoring program, supporting Save The Children through a donation of 10% from all Kensington bag sales over Christmas in 2017, giving 20% of all gift card purchases made during the Christmas period in 2018 to the British Red Cross, supporting the NHS throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, launching a fundraising ‘We Are One’ collection, delivering 3,500 £100 gift cards to 70 critical units in the UK, offering 50% off Kurt Geiger products to NHS and other initiatives that amounted to £1 million worth of support for the NHS.