Giving with a purpose through the reuse and repurpose of athletic shoes.
Please confirm you meet the following criteria
We have submitted the supplemental form linked in the description above
We are aged between 14 - 20 as of February 11, 2021
We live in the United States or its territories (Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa)
We are not employed by, or directly related (parents or siblings) to a current General Motors (GM) or Ashoka employee
We have been working on this project for at least three months
We consent to Ashoka and/or GM featuring our work on their website, social media, and in other materials regarding this Challenge using the information in our application
We confirm we have the rights to use and share any content uploaded on this entry form
Website or social media url(s) (optional):
Date You Started Your Project
August / 8th / 2017
Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.
Scaling (expanding impact to many new places or in many new ways)
1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
The problems Sole2Soul hope to solve are: 1.) environmental negligence and 2.) the obstacles of accessibility that inhibit the physical wellbeing of the youth. Our society has developed a sense of carelessness for the environment and youth all around the world are not given proper accessibility to sports equipment that could aid them in improving their health.
2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
Sole2Soul plans to solve these problems by promoting sustainability and healthy lifestyles through the reuse and repurpose of athletic shoes. We take in donated athletic shoes from our local community: schools, community centers and donors. We then run every shoe through our shoe guidelines to ensure that every shoe is safe to use once donated. Once these regulations are passed, we wash them and prepare them in a shipment to send off to the youth of an underserved community in either a local, national or international location. Alongside donating athletic shoes, it is part of our mission to educate the youth on the importance of sustainability and adopting healthy lifestyles! We hold presentations to different communities and prepare lessons dedicated to educating the youth about being more mindful about their environment and their own wellbeing. By receiving donated shoes from our local community, we underscore our efforts in thwarting environmental negligence. We attempt to teach our community that throwing used belongings away is not always the answer and that there is purpose for things they no longer need.
3. Please tell us how you are using science, technology, engineering or math to address your environmental challenge.
“We explain the causes and effects of climate change by teaching individuals strategies that they can employ to reduce their carbon footprint and resource consumption”. Try to be as specific as possible.
In addition to our physical operations, we recently launched a vlog to educate viewers about environmentally - impacted topics such as the benefits of thrift shopping, eating vegan, and understanding what sustainability actually means. Alongside this channel, we have been utilizing our social media accounts to connect with donors and recipients, partner with peer organizations and promote environmental mindfulness. Our social media posts are specifically designated to “humanize” positive environmental efforts: for example, we have used our accounts to rate vegan recipes, shoutout donors and document our shipment preparation in hopes of encouraging our followers to practice environmental mindfulness in their own lives.
At the start of quarantine, Sole2Soul’s operations were halted for the safety of our recipients, donors and our team. However, by focusing on our vlog channel and social media accounts, we have been able to progress past these obstacles!
4. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?
When I was 7 years old, my family and I went on a roadtrip to Spokane as my oldest sister had qualified for the USATF National Cross Country Championships. Along the way, we had the privilege of visiting different places, one of which was a Native American reservation. During this visit, I saw something that puzzled me: kids my age were taking turns playing with a single pair of shoes. I wondered,”Where were their shoes?”. Their lack of accessibility was puzzling to me because just a week before the trip, I volunteered at the local high school to clean up the locker rooms, where we threw away mountains of forgotten shoes. Why couldn’t we give these kids those shoes? At the same time, I was aware of climate change and how our wastefulness was a contributing cause. I began to connect the dots and years later, this experience of mine would mark the beginning of my changemaker journey.
5. Video (Keep it simple, your phone on selfie-mode is great): Please upload a 1-minute video to YouTube that answers the following “I am stepping up to be a Changemaker because...”
6. Please highlight the key activities you have carried out to bring your project to life.
Sole2Soul began with my research on how to start a nonprofit. I wanted to understand if my passions about the environment and community were enough to start an organization. Sole2Soul was grown further through the support and guidance of the Youth Oakland Impact Hub. Through their fellowship, my team and I were able to outline our organizational goals, define our mission and configure our operations. We also won our first set of grants from them and sent our first shipment of shoes to Kenya!
7. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?
Sole2Soul stands out among peer programs because we give with a purpose. It isn’t enough that we donate shoes, there is more to our work than just that! Each and every shoe we give safeguards a continuous story. In its fabric and material, the tale of its previous owner has already been told but the shoe isn’t done storytelling: it’s journey continues with its new owner who will have their own set of obstacles to overcome through those shoes. Our work brings these shoes’ tales to life and makes something so simple into something so purposeful.
8. Impact: In the last three months, please detail the impact your project has made.
In the last 3 months, we began connecting with homeless shelters in Southern California to discuss future operations in the area. We launched our own vlog channel dedicated to educating viewers on healthy living and environmental mindfulness. Also, we successfully sent out an international shipment of shoes to a community in Ibadan, Nigeria where we also provided educational material on athletic goals and sustainability. Last, we sent out a shipment of shoes to a homeless shelter in Oakland, California and educated recipients on the power and impact of reusing material and practicing healthy habits. The last 3 months have posed serious obstacles for us as we continue to operate during a pandemic, but the last 3 months have made us even more determined to pursue our mission of connecting communities, sustaining our planet and preparing a new generation of changemakers.
9. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?
As we continue our work, we hope to expand our presence online through our vlog channel and social media accounts to create more connections with donors, recipients and partnering organizations. We intend on being more diligent with our guidelines of collecting and donating shoes, as we push to impact more communities locally, nationally and internationally. We also plan to establish presences at both high schools and universities in the form of clubs to enable more individuals to carry out our mission and push for more environmental awareness and sustainability. The goals we have in mind are ambitious and daunting, but these are goals we are dedicated to accomplishing!
10. Please share how you have influenced other young people to get involved in your project and/or care about environmental sustainability.
We have inspired the youth through education and exposure to positive environmental change. In our recent shipment to Nigeria, the young athletes we connected with were educated on the definition of sustainability, encouraged to think about the quality of their planet and brainstormed athletic goals for themselves: they gained environmental mindfulness and the impacts they can make! We have given them the insights and resources they need to begin their changemaker journeys.
11. How would you partner with other changemakers to make a difference?
As changemakers It is our duty to pave the way for more youth to partake in their own acts of change. We would partner with other changemakers by progressing the YouthInCharge movement and find more ways to connect communities across the world. We want to humanize change and make it accessible! With our fellow changemakers, we would like to start a podcast to provide a platform for youth leaders to talk about their work and contribute to the cause of making change real for aspiring youth.
12. How would you engage others who have never heard about your project to get their buy-in?
We would engage others who haven’t heard about our work by getting them involved! Do they have shoes they don’t care about? We would educate them about sustainability and how they can make a positive impact through the same shoes they take for granted. Next, we would bring our work to life by presenting the impacts we have made in the name of our mission of sustainability. Change is constantly mystified, but when it's exposed as something real and tangible, it inspires others indefinitely.
13. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?
Donations less than $100
Donations between $100-$1k
Donations between $1k-$5k
14. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you? You’ll be able to select only one option.
Are you employed, or directly related (grand-parents, parents, sibling) to a GM or Ashoka employee?
How did you hear about this challenge?
Recommended by others
Participated in previous Ashoka challenges
Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or General Motors, who was it?
Gino Pastori - Ng referred me to this challenge. He is from the Youth Oakland Impact Hub.