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Bigger Than Sneakers — More than a Program

Sneaker and fashion culture play a significant role in the lives of youth, providing a means of self-expression, creativity and identity. It fosters a sense of belonging and serves as a platform for exploring trends, art and even entrepreneurship.

Bigger Than Sneakers, Inc. (BTS), a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering youth through sneaker culture, recently brought its free, two-week transformative summer program to Clark Montessori High School. 

Select 10th-12th grade students from Clark and other Cincinnati or Northern Kentucky schools participated in the BTS Academy, a series of workshops, mentorship sessions and hands-on activities for students to engage with and learn from.   

Throughout the program, students engaged with industry professionals and mentors, learning firsthand from the experts’ experiences within their respective fields. Guests featured the likes of Shannel Heath, Vice President of Community Management at J.P. Morgan Chase to Jeremy Sallee, Head of Design for Puma Basketball and many more. 

The guidance provided by these luminaries of the fashion world proved invaluable in shaping the students' understanding of the industry's inner workings and helping them develop their unique creative vision.


“What we’ve found is that a lot of students are interested in developing their own brands, or are already beginning to form their own brands,” said Natalie Morean, Executive Director of Bigger Than Sneakers. “This program is an awesome way for us to give these students some tangible tools and great connections as they move forward with their ambitions.” 

Morean explained students learned branding, entrepreneurship, finance, marketing, design, production and sales — everything they would need to know to start their own apparel business over the course of the program. 

The highlight of the program was the week-long project, where students worked in groups of five to create an impressive display of their skills and creativity. 

To assist with their projects and become familiar with industry-standard tools like Procreate, each student received a free iPad & Apple accessories to use during the program and keep for future use. Students Using Their New Free Ipads

Each participant brought a unique perspective to the project, resulting in a diverse range of innovative designs, marketing concepts and entrepreneurial ventures. What these students' learned during their time in the program was evident in the quality of their work.

"We were blown away by the level of talent and creativity demonstrated by some of these students’ projects," said Morean. "We frequently hear a lot of our guest speakers say ‘Man, I wish I had a program like this when I was earlier in my career,’ and I think the students in these classrooms today are already showing that level of entrepreneurship and passion."

Stipends up to $1,000 were distributed to the top-performing students to be used towards higher education or for students to start their own brands.

For more information about Bigger Than Sneakers, Inc. and its transformative programs, visit their official website at