In the U.S. — and, now, internationally — Vans slip-ons have become synonymous with teenage life and skateboard culture. Over forty years after the firm’s establishment in 1966, Vans launched an in-kind giving program true to its roots in creative freedom and customization. Custom Culture, which grew from an art teacher’s attempts to better engage his students, now partners with Journeys, truth (an anti-tobacco-company campaign), and Americans for the Arts to support art in American high schools by providing shoes as canvases for nationwide art competitions. In his spotlight of this campaign, Forbes contributor Ryan Scott suggests that Custom Culture might serve as a model or example of the “underappreciated and underutilized” practice of in-kind giving. Indeed, in-kind giving represents a form of corporate philanthropy that can be comparatively easy to integrate and that presents immense opportunities for community involvement. And, as Scott contests, the payoff can be huge for firms “imaginative enough to creatively tailor an in-kind giving program to the exact personality of their corporate brands.” In this case, that payoff includes striking galleries of student work, funded art programs, and an even more robust reputation of “coolness” for the shoe company of our youths.

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInEmail this to someoneShare on TumblrTweet about this on Twitter