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The Next Era. Presented by Vans.

February 7th through June 6th, 2024

Welcome to The Next Era, a groundbreaking 5-month program that opens the door to exciting career possibilities, from accounting to design within the fashion industry. Through this initiative, we've already ignited the aspirations of over 40 young minds, encouraging them to dream big, set realistic goals, and discover boundless opportunities within the fashion world.


Our ultimate objective is to assemble a team of young leaders who will spearhead the planning and execution of an exclusive global collaboration between Vans and Sole Classics.


We meticulously hand-pick 20 students in grades 9 to 11 from Central Ohio through a rigorous application and interview process. These chosen individuals will actively participate in every product development phase, granting them invaluable insights and hands-on experience. Furthermore, they'll have exclusive access to Vans' experts and other industry professionals, receiving locally and nationally specialized instruction.


Our comprehensive curriculum is thoughtfully crafted by Vans' seasoned experts, local community influencers, and accomplished professionals within their respective fields. The program seamlessly blends in-person and virtual sessions, offering an immersive educational experience encompassing crucial topics like self-branding, financial literacy, design, and production.

This opportunity is truly unique, and we're eager to provide our selected youth with an unforgettable and transformative experience. Opportunities like this are few and far between for Central Ohio students, and we take immense pride in offering them the chance to build relationships that will expose them to invaluable industry knowledge, setting them on an exciting path for the future.


- Career awareness

- Leadership

- Teamwork

- Experience

- Communication

- Project management

- Business development

- Job skills


Episode 1: From Entry Level to Exec

The students meet Dave Tichiaz, VP and General Manager of Vans Americas. On the call, Dave breaks down his journey as we climbed through the ranks to become an executive at one of the largest lifestyle companies on the planet. The students break up into groups to give their interpretation of a journey from Entry Level to Exec.

Episode 2: Get with the Program

Episode 3: The Truth About Legal

Dionte' kickstarts The Next Era Program by building some base-level understanding of what a brand is, along with identifying your own brand. The students get their headshots done and learn some professional development skills from Ms. J, and Kevin gives us a better understanding of the program. 

The group has the privilege of learning from Adrienne Logan, General Council for Vans. The legal world is very complex, however, it is arguably the first or second most important part of business. The students are surprised to find out that the legal world expands far beyond just criminal cases, it is actually carefully intertwined into the fabric of all things. 

Episode 4: Entrepreneur's View

Episode 5: Count It Up - Building a Budget, Making a Plan

Episode 6: HR - "We're Hiring"

Dionte' Johnson, Owner of Sole Classics, speaks on the common misconceptions about owning a business. The students learn the importance of creating a SWOT Analysis and begin working on a business plan.

The Next Era students continue to build their business plans for their business with their team. Before the teams present, they learn how to create a budget from Jessica Johnson of Accounting Solutions of Ohio.

Human Relations, or HR, is one area of business that can be very vague and often overwhelming. We know that they are responsible for the "paperwork", hiring, firing, and company culture. The students are able to learn a little more from the HR department from Jeremy Havlik of Vans.


Unit 1:

Introduction to Business &

Personal Branding

The primary objective of the first unit is to introduce our students to the concept of brand building. This curriculum segment will encompass self-advocacy, self-branding, and constructing a personal brand identity. It is of paramount significance as it lays the groundwork for self-discovery. This unit will allow students to delve into the facets that set them apart and determine how they wish to present themselves to the world. In essence, this unit marks the initiation of their journey towards self-discovery.


Unit 3:

Creative Intersection 

Unit three of the curriculum marks a pivotal stage within the program, where students are allowed to express their creativity through various creative roles, with a specific focus on graphic design, photography, and videography.


This segment of the program is designed to offer hands-on experience in utilizing Adobe software programs alongside a comprehensive exploration of the fundamental elements of photography and videography. By engaging in these activities, students will acquire the skills necessary to pursue diverse career avenues beyond the fashion industry, enhancing their professional versatility and adaptability.


Unit 4:

The Main Attraction 

This program's concluding month centers around exploring creative conceptualization, featuring a hands-on experiential component. This segment aims to give students practical insights into designing physical products. Specifically, students will embark on a journey into the intricacies of design, focusing on crafting their t-shirt designs.


Students will begin planning their final project throughout this month, synthesizing the knowledge and skills acquired over the preceding five months. They will culminate their educational journey by creating a presentation that showcases their achievements to friends and family, thereby providing a tangible representation of their growth and accomplishments.


Unit 2:

Finance & Business Planning 

Month two of the curriculum is dedicated to introducing financial and business planning. During this month, our focus will be on emphasizing the significance of the structural aspects of financial and business planning that have lasting implications for the long-term sustainability of a company. We will delve into constructing a budget that extends beyond personal financial needs and encompasses its integration into the broader business framework.


Furthermore, students will gain a comprehensive understanding of the purpose and objectives of a business entity. In the final week of this month, students will have the opportunity to showcase their projects to influential figures in the field of finance or business, thereby applying their newfound knowledge in a practical context and receiving valuable feedback.


Unit 4:

The Value in Communication 

Unit four of the curriculum gives students a comprehensive introduction to communications. This segment encompasses the essential marketing principles from a creative perspective while introducing the crucial aspects of marketing research and copywriting.


These skills are not only applicable within the fashion industry but can also be effectively employed in the realm of social media and beyond. Consequently, students will gain a profound understanding of these skills' practicality and relevance in their day-to-day lives.

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