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Vans Custom Culture Reveals Top Fifty High Schools

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Vans launches online voting today for the Custom Culture high school art competition – in partnership with Americans for the Arts, Journeys and truth® – calling on the public to help narrow down 50 semi-finalists to the top five high schools competing for $50,000 for their school’s art programs, among other awards.

Beginning today, April 25 through May 12, students, teachers, parents and friends nationwide may log onto the Custom Culture website (vans.com/customculture) and vote for their favorite school designs to advance in the competition. The five finalists will head to New York City in June for a final showcase event featuring celebrity judges at the renowned Industria Superstudio, where the grand-prize winner of the $50,000 donation will be announced.

“Narrowing down to the 50 semi-finalists was not an easy feat,” said Sarah Crockett, vice president of global consumer marketing at Vans. “The immense creativity coming out of the schools inspires us even more each year. When the designs come in and we see what the students create, it further solidifies our commitment at Vans to supporting students in their artistic pursuits and helping schools secure the resources to make that happen.”

Vans Custom Culture was created to inspire and empower high school students to embrace their creativity through art and design, while calling attention to the fact that school art programs are suffering due to shrinking education budgets. Earlier this year, 2,000 schools across the country registered to compete – the most participating schools in Custom Culture’s five-year history. As part of the competition, each participating school created four custom designs to represent the Vans “Off the Wall” lifestyle (Action Sports, Music, Art, Local Flavor) using blank sneakers as the canvas. From there, an internal Vans team narrowed down the selection to the top 50 schools for the public to weigh in on (listed by region below).

In addition to the $50,000 grand prize, Vans will award $4,000 to the four runners-up. Finalists will also be eligible for a $10,000 ‘Local Attitude’ award, presented by retail partner Journeys to the school that creates the most compelling ‘local flavor’ design. Further, the 50 semi-finalists have the chance to compete for a separate $10,000 award from truth® – the nation’s largest youth smoking prevention campaign. Participants will be challenged to customize a skateboard deck inspired by their reaction to a raw fact about tobacco. The fact for this year is: ‘In 2006, a judge ruled that Big Tobacco had been engaged in a 50-year scheme to deceive the public about the dangers of smoking.’

Vans Custom Culture has grown exponentially since its inception in 2010 with 326 participating schools, to 2,000 schools this year. To date, the competition has reached hundreds of thousands of students and pumped more than $320,000 back into high school art programs.