To support the community, one must actually be immersed within the community.

Over the years, Nike has managed to not only be fully committed to the areas that they serve, but it goes far beyond just the storefront.

Since the inception of its Blue Ribbon Sports store in 1967, the leading athletic brand has been a destination for product, expert advice, and most importantly, community.

“We think about everyone that has touched or experienced Nike,” Vanessa Garcia-Brito, VP of North America Communications at Nike told AfroTech in regards to what community means to the brand. “I think about family, people, our neighborhoods.”

Continuing on its Black Community Commitment, Nike, alongside Converse, the Jordan Brand and Micheal Jordan, will keep investing in local organizations that are dedicated to advancing equality throughout several U.S. cities, especially the place where it all started nearly 50 years ago — Los Angeles, CA. 

As the brand commemorates 50 years in the LA community, they continue to elevate the people who will shape the future.

“When you look at a kid, and everybody’s looking at a kid, you’re cheering for the same person,” Garcia-Brito continued. “That is a unifying emotion and a unifying experience and then we build from that. We ask ourselves questions like ‘What experiences are they having for their people? What are the organizations that are backing them up? How do we participate in that ecosystem?’ And sport can be such a leveling opportunity. So, I think about how do we bring community through sport?”

More Than Just A Storefront

As the birthplace of Nike retail, LA is home to 10 Nike stores that all reflect the diverse passions and perspectives of their respective communities.

From soccer players in Watts to yogis at The Grove, each store is tailored to the interests that keep those areas alive and thriving.

Stores like the East Los Angeles Community Store were specifically created to support both the neighborhood and its people.

With the Nike Community Ambassador program, the company trains its store athletes to become volunteer youth coaches within the community, in turn, providing local children with positive experiences in sport and play.

The store also directly invests in East LA through grants tailored specifically to nonprofits helping to level the playing field.

Investing In The Community

As a part of Nike, Inc’s $140 million  Black Community Commitment pledge made in June 2020, to invest in organizations with a focus on social justice, education innovation, and economic opportunity for Black people, the latest round of investments includes awarding 54 national and local organizations a combined $7.75 million in grants.

One of the 2022 grant recipients, the L.A. Jets Track Club, has offered access to the sport for Black youth across LA since 1973. 

With an all-volunteer coaching staff, the club has managed to grow to a team of 185 athletes who compete at the highest level in the USA Track & Field program.

Over the years, the organization has produced hundreds of national champions and scholarship athletes showcasing how this sport creates opportunities beyond the track. 

Nike has invested $35,000 into the L.A. Jets Track Club to not only support the youth runners involved in the club but to also strengthen the club and grow its academic program and athletes. They have also equipped its athletes with team footwear and apparel along with events held exclusively at Nike stores.

Other grant recipients at the national level include Son of A Saint, All Star Code, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, and the Equal Justice Initiative.

Building A Better Future

Nike knows that the future of sport is not possible without the city of LA. 

Whether it has been home to some of the best athletes the world has ever seen, including the late Kobe Bryant or tennis superstars, Venus and Serena Williams, or simply a place where the next sports sensation can have a dream, the brand realizes that it has a duty to encourage the next generation.

“Kids are part of the least active generation right now, not just in the U.S., but across the world. They’re just not always getting the opportunity to play or get access to the sport and that’s especially true in our Black and Brown communities,” said Garcia-Brito. “So, that’s what we talk about, we think about creating a future that is more equitable, more inclusive, where there is opportunity and access. We partner with the local organizations that are meaningful in the communities because it does have to be meaningful to exalt where you live, where you play, where your family is. So, we’re looking at it through the lens of today and what’s in front of you, but also additive because we don’t want these issues and challenges that we’re facing today to be the same ones that the next generation is experiencing.”

Click here to learn more about the Nike Black Community Commitment.