Let’s Band Together to Keep Kids Playing Music
Fifteen years ago, we designed our iconic Newport sandal with a rubber bumper as a way to protect toes on all-terrain adventures.
Now, as budget cuts put school arts programs in jeopardy, we’re hoping it can also help protect music education for our kids, particularly those in underserved communities.
The benefits of music education really can’t be overstated. From an academic perspective, studies show that music training carries over into many other cognitive areas and is essential to a child’s educational development.
As a sponsor of the Newport Folk Festival this summer, KEEN has designed a limited-edition Newport sandal to help keep the music alive. For every pair of Newport Revival sandals sold, we’re giving $50 to Newport Festivals Foundation for music education initiatives in the form of scholarships, instrument donations, and afterschool programs.
“We couldn’t be more excited to partner with the Newport Folk Festival. Not only does it share the name and inspiration of our most iconic KEEN product—the Newport sandal—this partnership also aligns with our values of giving back to those in need,” says Tyler LaMotte, chief marketing officer at KEEN. “By working with the Newport Festivals Foundation, we are able to give back to youth in underserved communities with music-related programs that improve lives.”
STRIKING A CHORD FOR OVER 50 YEARS
Rhode Island’s Newport Folk Festival was one of the first modern music festivals in the U.S., beginning in 1959 and becoming a venue for voicing support of the Civil Rights Movement. Today, it’s still about the “folk.” Several years ago, the nonprofit festival organization—together with its sister festival, the Newport Jazz Festival—created a foundation with a mission of preserving the deep traditions of jazz and folk music and fostering the next generation of musicians.
Music preview: Listen to the Newport Folk Festival 2018 playlist
With a nationwide trend of school music and arts program budgets being cut, the Newport Festivals Foundation saw a need to step in and do something about it.
“The benefits of music education really can’t be overstated. From an academic perspective, studies show that music training carries over into many other cognitive areas and is essential to a child’s educational development,” says Christopher Capotosto, creative and marketing director for Newport Festivals Foundation. “Despite countless studies backing this up, these programs are still seen as dispensable. This is particularly common for communities in need—when a recession hits or a hurricane floods your elementary school, it’s not easy to explain why replacing instruments should be a first priority.”
Music education isn’t limited to the classroom, he adds, and there are numerous other benefits. Programs that work with veterans help to provide environments of camaraderie and creativity; and afterschool programs help to improve social skills and strengthen the bonds of communities.
“These programs are essential to the well-being of millions of individuals and have incredibly far-reaching effects,” Christopher says. “Let’s not forget that these programs encourage people to actually play live music, collaborate, create, and put on shows—something we obviously care about deeply.”
FUNDING A MUSIC PROGRAM REVIVAL
So far, the foundation’s revival programs have funded programs in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Texas, and Washington. This April, Newport Festivals Foundation donated $20,000 worth of instruments to four public schools in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. For some of the schools, the instruments are the first they’ve owned.
With the $150,000 we hope to raise from the sale of our Newport Revival sandal, the foundation estimates that they’ll be able to double their current impact—reaching between 1,000–5,000 students in the first year through direct instrument donations or teacher funding.
As a values-led company, we are not just here to make shoes. So we’re stoked that the sandal we created to help people explore the world will now also help kids across the country explore a whole new world through music.
“Together we are going to encourage, engage, and enable communities to improve themselves through music,” Christopher says. “There’s no better partnership than that in our eyes.”
Listen to our podcast with the Newport Folk Festival
The Newport Folk Festival runs July 27-29. If you’ll be there, please stop by the KEEN booth and our Better Takes Action lounge, where you can use our Call to Action phone booths to reach out to your elected officials and make your voice heard on issues you care about, including support for school music education funding.