Vans Custom Culture envisions a country where every child has access to - and takes part in - high quality learning experiences in the arts, both in school and in the community. In 2012, Vans Custom Culture began a unique partnership with Americans for the Arts to realize this vision through a variety of programs and events.

The partnership between Vans Custom Culture and Americans for the Arts - which includes the Vans Custom Culture art competition, the Vans Custom Culture grant initiative, and an array of e-books designed to help educators, students, and advocates navigate the complex field of arts education - has already impacted thousands of high school students across the United States. The competition gives high school students the opportunity to embrace their creativity while drawing attention to the importance of art in a well-rounded education. The grant program provides needed funding for schools and programs in need. And the tools and resources help all arts education supporters become effective advocates for arts education in their communities.

Vans Custom Culture Competition

In 2010, youth brand Vans developed the Vans Custom Culture art competition to encourage high school students across the United States to embrace their creativity and inspire a new generation of youth culture. Vans Custom Culture is committed to investing in the arts as an integral part of all students’ education.

In 2012, Vans Custom Culture approached Americans for the Arts to be its official national charity partner to draw attention to the importance of arts education nationwide through several initiatives, the primary focus being the Custom Culture shoe design contest.

Vans Custom Culture was created to inspire and empower high school students to embrace their creativity through art and design and to bring attention to diminishing arts education budgets. Vans believes everyone should be empowered to express themselves creatively and should be given the tools to do so.

Custom Culture is a national high school customization competition using blank Vans shoes to be customized around specific themes. Once your school's designs are completed, they go through a judging process to narrow down our top 50 entries. Then, it's up to your school and classmates to garner votes from the public to help us choose our top 5. One school will be chosen as the Grand Prize Winner, receiving $75,000 for their art program!

For more information, check out the Vans Custom Culture website!

Custom Culture Grant Program

Americans for the Arts administers the Vans Custom Culture Grant Program, which is supported by funds from the sales of the winning shoe design in the Custom Culture shoe design competition mentioned above.

Custom Culture Grants are available to public high schools (including charter schools) serving students in grades 9-12 or community based nonprofit organizations/governmental agencies serving as a fiscal agent for arts programming. The grants are intended to encourage the inclusion of the arts as an integral component of an excellent education, and to support activities that are consistent with local and national learning standards for arts education.

Ten (10) schools across the country will each receive a $2,000 grant to support their work in providing high-quality music, theatre, dance, media and/or visual arts instruction for students.

Apply for a grant here!

Arts Education Tools & Resources

Through generous support from Vans Custom Culture, Americans for the Arts has designed the Arts Education Navigator, a series of e-books designed to equip arts education supporters with the knowledge, statistics, and case-making skills to effectively communicate with decision-makers.

Check out the entire series!