The winning high school will receive a $50,000 grant to further its arts program

By Alex Heigl
Updated April 27, 2016 12:05 PM
Credit: Courtesy Vans

And you thought you were the coolest when you doodled a peace symbol on your white Vans.

In 2010, Vans founded the Vans Custom Culture design competition, aimed at raising awareness about the perilous state of arts budgets in schools across the country. The company provides blank shoes for students to design, and then a voting process winnows down the top 50 schools.

Those 50 entries are further narrowed down via public voting to the top five. Schools who make the top five are flown out to California to have their artwork judged, and one lucky winner is awarded the grand prize: A $50,000 grant to their school’s arts program. (The other finalists each receive $4,000 for their own arts programs.)

This year, the company’s partners include the Truth anti-smoking campaign, Journeys shoe stores, Americans for the Arts, and Laguna College of Art and Design. In 2016, Vans Custom Culture was also recognized as a finalist for the Cause Marketing Halo Awards for advancing the arts and art education in schools.

You’re looking at some of the designs selected as finalists in the program. The top five schools will arrive in Los Angeles on June 8 for final judging, and the grand prize winner will be selected and awarded.

According to the organization Living the Arts through Language + Learning, students involved in the arts are four times more likely to participate in a math or science fair…

three times more likely to win an award for school attendance

four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement

… and three times more likely to be elected to class office.

For more information about the contest and to place your vote, please visit the Vans website here or look them up on Instagram at their official account or by using the hashtag #RightToArt.