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Two Ten Blog

May 2013 Newsletter

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Two Ten Retains Coveted 4-Star Rating from Charity Navigator

The Two Ten Footwear Foundation has retained the prestigious 4-star rating from Charity Navigator for consistently exceeding industry standards and executing its mission in a fiscally responsible way.

“This exceptional designation differentiates Two Ten Footwear Foundation from its peers and demonstrates to the public it is worthy of their trust,” says Ken Berger, President and CEO of Charity Navigator. The award highlights the extraordinary work of Two Ten over the last 16 months to ensure all programs are delivered efficiently and cost-effectively.

“We didn’t get four stars by accident,” said Neal Newman, President of Two Ten. “We’ve been carefully building a high-performance, efficient, accountable and transparent organization that everyone in our footwear industry can take great pride in. Congratulations to the fantastic Two Ten team and our world-class Board of Directors, led by Jim Salzano, President of The Clarks Companies, N.A.”

Charity Navigator works to help charitable givers make intelligent giving decisions by providing information on more that 5,000 charities nationwide and by evaluating their financial health.  Scores are calculated based upon several criteria, including how much is spent per dollar raised, what percentage of funds goes to program versus administrative costs and fund-raising expenses, and the organization’s long-term financial health. An overview of Two Ten’s performance metrics can be found on the organization’s Charity Navigator rating page.

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Schwartz and Benjamin: 90 years

A family business

“This place is a very tight family business,” said Arthur Schwartz in 1987 as CEO of Schwartz and Benjamin. “There is a high standard of ethics that begins at the top and permeates through the entire company.” As the company begins its 90th year in the footwear, the Schwartz and Benjamin family holds strong to the core values that are the backbone of their success, drawing from three generations of knowledge to build a successful future for the company and the community in which they thrive.

Ben Schwartz founded the company in 1923 at a time when fashion was widely considered to have entered the “modern era.” The reputable women’s shoe manufacturer took advantage of the cultural and political changes of the time, when newly empowered women first abandoned the more restricting styles of the past, and catered to a newly found flair.  Unfortunately the post war (WWI) boom did not last long and the Great Depression and an additional war brought on challenges for S&B and the nation as whole.  Strong leadership ensured that the focus stayed firmly on providing good products and service and with that success came a pledge to contribute to the betterment of the footwear community.  In 1951, Ben became Two Ten’s first Regional Chairman (New York) at a time when strong leadership was necessary to expand the organizational reach on a national level.  This altruistic obligation is something that has been shared by future generations and has become part of what makes S&B such an important name in footwear.

As the company evolved through the generations, so did its relationship with Two Ten and the footwear community. Danny continues to take an active role in strengthening the industry through his positions on the Two Ten and FFaNY Board of Directors, and was presented with the A.A. Bloom Award in 2012 for his years of service and dedication to the footwear industry.  “Danny walks the talk. His commitment is shown through his actions. He has raised the bar for Two Ten volunteerism,” said Carol Baiocchi SVP/DMM Footwear Kohl’s.  Believing strongly in the power of education, S&B has continued to fund scholarships and industry programs that spark curiosity and strengthen industry talent. “Educating people about footwear and the shoe manufacturing process is essential to building a strong industry,” said Danny when speaking about the successful Ars Sutoria program that is offered by both Two Ten and FFaNY. “Students experience something that they would normally have to go overseas to learn.”  His son Jake, who is an Associate Brand Manager at Jimlar took part in the program last year at FFaNY and is excited by what opportunities like this can bring to a young professional looking to learn and grow in the footwear industry.  “This exposure to the technical aspects of shoemaking is truly crucial for someone like me,” said Jake in a recent Footwear News interview, “[It has] helped me understand what can and cannot be achieved in production.”

Jake is laying the groundwork for a successful career in footwear and as chair of Two Ten’s Young Professionals Group (YP210), he is committed to strengthening the footwear industry through networking and educational opportunities.  “YP210 can make a huge impact on the lives and careers of young professionals looking to find their footing in an industry that values experience.”  With a childhood of experience to draw from and generations of knowledge behind him it is likely that a 4th generation Schwartz will make their mark on the footwear industry. Danny is confident in the future of the company and is encouraged by the next generation. “I see a younger, vibrant management team leading us to new successes.”

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The Culture of Footwear Philanthropy

“How do I make what I do important?” asked Kenneth Cole. The question was posed to a dynamic crowd of industry leaders at the recent Fromm Leadership Forum to promote philanthropy within the footwear community. “The goal is to inspire, educate and entertain with ideas that can add vibrancy to their own business,” said event host Michael Atmore of Footwear News. “Tonight we look at the business of giving back.”

This year the Fromm Leadership Forum was held during the opening dinner of the Footwear News CEO Summit in Miami FL, and was made possible by the support of Ron and Cheryl Fromm and the Fromm Leadership Fund.  “This was the perfect venue to convene industry CEOs to talk about creating a culture of philanthropy within their companies,” said Neal Newman, President of Two Ten.  Just one week after kicking off “Footwear Cares” week of volunteerism in New York City, Kenneth Cole took the stage to welcome attendees and reflect on the significance of leading a cause related business and the importance of “good will” in the success of the brand. ” Business and community are interdependent,” he said, “If more industries had a Two Ten, our communities would be much better off.”

Another major focus of the Forum is to facilitate conversation between industry leaders and young professionals around current issues faced by footwear community.  Six of the industry’s rising stars were invited to attend the exclusive CEO Summit, giving them opportunities to learn from icons of the industry and come up with ideas that will develop a Young Professionals program that will provide support, security and camaraderie for the next generation of industry leaders.  These rising stars were:Rick Almeida, Clarks; Kitty Bolinger, Dansko; Katherine Burbank, Brown Shoe; Patty Kelly, Asics; Graham McCullough, Zappos; and Danny Muskat , Deers Stags.

“Generosity is a huge part of the DNA of the footwear business,” said Michael Atmore.  Companies and individuals embrace this growing commitment to footwear philanthropy in different ways. Many companies have developed their own charitable foundations (Brown Shoe’s Charitable Trust, New Balance Foundation) while thousand of individuals find other ways to give back to their local communities.  “Footwear has a long history of compassion and commitment,” said Ron Fromm. “Creating a culture of philanthropy within footwear is just one of the many ways this industry sets itself apart from the rest.”

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Congratulations Class of 2013!

Since 1969, Two Ten Footwear Foundation has awarded nearly $17 million to 7,000 students. Annually, Two Ten helps over 400 students nationwide meet the rising cost of a college education by awarding $700,000 in scholarships.  We would like to congratulate this year’s graduating class!
For those Two Ten scholarship recipients just beginning their educational journey, we look forward to keeping in touch with you over the next four years as you work towards your degree.  For those newly minted baccalaureates, we wish you the very best in all your future endeavors.

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Help Us Make a Difference!

The footwear industry is responding to a call for donations for a Spring Relief Fund at Two Ten. With three weeks remaining, donors have already helped us raise $550,000 towards the $665,000 goal.  Greg Tunney, President and CEO of RG Barry, and the Chair of the Spring Campaign, says that “individuals and companies are taking action with gifts to help replenish our relief fund to meet the current needs of the men and women who turn to Two Ten for help on daily basis. The response has been heartwarming, including gifts from people who have been helped by Two Ten in the past. Running a campaign, like the Spring Campaign is like a barn raising – its quick, its impactful, and requires many hands.”

“Under the best of circumstance, spring can be a tricky time for many folks in our footwear community as they emerge from winter with debt from high heating bills,” shares Kate Alley, Two Ten Director of Social Services and Scholarships. “This year has been a bit of a challenge – with the big financial impact of Hurricane Sandy, Two Ten has had to replenish its relief fund quickly in order to meet the current needs of the families in the industry. With the marathon bombings and tornados in Oklahoma, folks are feeling shaky right now and we see the impact of that as well in increased counseling calls and in calls from people from people directly impacted by these tragedies.”

With $165,000 to raise in 3 weeks,  Two Ten’s Director of Development Kate Kaplan says “Now is the time for that sprint to the finish line. We’re asking everyone to pitch in now and make a gift that helps make our industry strong.”

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