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The Next Era. Presented by Vans.

January 24 through June 29, 2023

This program will introduce our youth to many different skilled careers, from accounting to design. We want to positively influence and challenge the youth to dream big, create realistic goals and, see endless possibilities in this industry.


Our goal is to culminate a team to lead the youth in planning and executing the global launch of an exclusive collaboration between Vans and Sole Classics.


We will hand-select 20 nominated Central Ohio teens ranging from 9th-11th grade. The selected individuals will have the opportunity to engage in every step of the process to complete a finished product. The students will obtain exclusive access to Vans staff and other industry professionals that will teach niche courses of their expertise locally and nationally.


During the 6-month program, we will emerge the students into the complete culture of the industry. They will work through various levels of what it takes to create the product from start to finish. This will include exposure to legal, logistics, sales, design, finance, marketing, PR, development, videography, branding, and so much more.


This program will feature a unique mix of virtual and in-person courses. This opportunity is unique, and we look forward to giving the youth selected an unforgettable experience. These types of opportunities are very few and far between for Central Ohio students. We are proud to provide students the chance to develop relationships that will expose them to vital industry information that they can retain and jump-start their minds for their 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:

Everything is Business

To create anything, you must research the structure of the business. This unit will provide information on laying the foundation to build on. In addition, this course will highlight careers that go unmentioned but are vital to the operation of the business.


Week 1: The Intro

Relationships are a vital part of the development of creating a solid team when executing a project. Therefore, students, staff, and the Vans team will become familiar with one another through team-building exercises and interactive activities. Students will also learn about the history of Sole Classics, Canvaas, and Vans.

Week 2: Planning a Business

Students will become familiar with different business structures and the beginning process that aligns with creating a business. Students will learn how to research, create, and properly register for an LLC vs. Corporation. Staff will help the students define and understand what the difference is between Non-Profit vs. for-profit. Finally, the youth will begin planning for a business with the acquired knowledge and develop a SWOT analysis.

Week 3: Legal

Protecting your business and creativity is a must in our industry. During week 3, Students will learn about contracts, agreements, creative service agreements, lease agreements, & operating agreements. 

Week 4 & 5: Finance

Everything has cost. Funding a business is no easy task. Learning the basics of business funding, taxes, understanding credit and how it works will be a priority in this course.


Students will learn how to plan and execute a budget appropriately. Alongside creating budgets students, will also have the chance to walk through an introduction to business finance for accounts payable & receivable.


Week 6: Human Relations

Students will learn about staffing, insurance, and the do's and don't in the workplace. The workplace can be challenging to navigate on a daily. The staff and students will work through various exercises that relate specifically to group projects, communication skills, and understanding individuality.

Week 7: Learning the Software

This session will be an interactive introduction for the students to become familiar with Adobe Illustrator and InDesign.

Week 8: Design Basics

Students will continue to work through various activities utilizing and building on the skills they are learning. In Illustrator and InDesign is where the magic of creative ideas begins to come to life. 

Week 9: Telling a Story

Students will become storytellers. In this portion of the course, students will be introduced to a copywriter and learn the importance of storytelling. Then, together with the copywriter, they will create the product story.

Week 10: Footwear Design

Students will actively work with a footwear designer to execute their footwear concept. This particular course will help the students survey designs collectively. Students will have the opportunity to showcase their innovative ideas. This is where the fun begins as students show range in design, and begin the process of material selection implemented in their design.

Week 11: Sourcing Materials

Students will learn the sourcing process and look through material books. Sourcing materials is where the students will discover industry standards. Staff will discuss the importance of trade shows, conventions, suppliers, and negotiating the best deals.

Week 12: Learning Design Layout

Students will focus on consumer-facing design and learn the importance of layout. Here is where students will begin to understand the role design plays in the consumer world.

Unit 2: Designing for the Future

Let's take a hyper-focused journey into the world of design. Students will have weekly opportunities to create and explore the jobs and careers within this industry. The goal is to equip the students with fundamental design skills and introduce them to industry-standard design software. During these six weeks, the students will endure a very fast-paced and hands-on experience.


Unit 3: Creating a Buzz

The overarching objective is to become marketing All-Stars. In these next eight weeks, we will have the opportunity to get outside the classroom and capture content. Students will begin to develop assets that they will use for a product campaign. Students will learn how to take raw materials and define their abilities to launch a completel product campaign.


Acquisition, Monetization, and Engagement is the name of the game. 


Week 13: Discovery

Discovery will assist in the traditional, digital, and inspiration of professional development. First, students will work with a strategist to identify a need and problem. Then, students will use the information to find a solution creatively. Finally, they will take everything learned in discovery and begin to package this data. This data will help solidify the projection of possible problems and foster quick problem-solving techniques for successful outcomes.

Week 14: Establishing a Marketing Plan

Students will develop a marketing plan that will serve as a playbook for the remainder of this course. This session is where students will suit up for the game of selling. Staff will coach students through all aspects of marketing, including product, price, promotion, place, people, process, and physical evidence. IT'S ALMOST GO TIME!

Week 15, 16 & 17: Production

Students will actively capture visual photographs and learn how to turn them into consumer-facing images. In addition, students will be introduced to Adobe Photoshop.

Students will work with a video production team to work on a 30-second promotion video.

Students will finalize their photo and video production with the team and work on copywriting for the product release.

Week 18 & 19: Online & Digital Presence

Working with a web developer, students will create a microsite (wireframe) for their product launch. In this space, the students will learn the importance of storytelling through social media and digital platforms. 

Week 20: Release Strategy

Students will take all aspects from the past 20 weeks and bring them together. The release strategy will encompass the story that the students have developed with the copywriter. With the help of the copywriter, the students will create their first Press Release to use for the product's actual release. The students will also have the opportunity to learn the importance of a launch calendar. While creating the launch calendar, the students will learn about media buying vs. non-paid media. 

Week 21: Product Development & Merchandising

In the final unit, students will receive a brief look into footwear production. Students will learn that optimizing the presentation of products and services will highlight specific features and benefits of their product. Understanding how to merchandise is a vital piece to the finishing touches of this project. Staff will encourage the students to finish strong with the following key points of attracting, engaging, and motivating the customer towards making a purchase.

Week 22: Logistics & Distribution

For a company to run efficiently, logistics and distribution are critical components in this industry. The monster task of delivering goods from warehouse to storefront is related to warehousing, stock control, and monitoring of products. Students will work on pricing, unit projections, supply chain management, selling and buying, 

Week 23 & 24: Final Presentations

Students will package their work from the past 24 weeks into a presentation deck. The final task and charge to the students will be the presentation of their overall past 24 weeks. This will give the students full responsibility to present their product from start to finish.


Congratulations will be for the students as staff assist them in telling how they brought their vision to life.

Unit 4: From the Computer to the Shelf

The fourth and final leg of the program, Unit 4, will focus on packaging and presenting the final product. In this unit, students will jump into logistics and bring this entire process to life.  The goal is to recap as many career paths as possible, create a student portfolio-ready deck, and use all assets as a tool on their way to various jobs or career opportunities in the industry.

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