by Stephen Garner

Footaction has launched a new creative platform which champions youth culture’s constantly evolving self-expressive style, celebrates individuality, and proves there is no one way to pursue one’s passion.

The “No 1 Way Design Program” is an open call for recent graduates of, or current students at, the 85+ Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) across the country. The competition-based initiative will be launched in partnership with Foot Locker, Inc.’s Portland-based strategic partner, Pensole Academy.

Footaction’s long-term commitment to HBCU students is a manifestation of the brand’s promise to amplify and celebrate the next wave of creative visionaries who continue to push the culture forward. The experience and visibility provided by the No 1 Way competition will foster diversity of talent and champion the idea of creative individuality.

Pensole founder D’Wayne Edwards and his accomplished roster of academy instructors will lead the competition, providing mentorship and guidance to the students throughout the process. Five finalists will be selected for a three-week Pensole Master Class that will support these rising stars and help bring their creative ideas to life as market-ready, apparel-focused capsule collections.

“Footaction’s No 1 Way Design Program will create opportunity and bring talents from untapped communities to the forefront,” said Richard McLeod, vice president of marketing for Footaction. “We are thrilled to be working with Pensole Academy as we work to create opportunities for students at HBCUs, share their stories and cultivate their entrepreneurship. This program represents our long-term commitment to nurturing the next generation of talent, while offering them opportunities in design.”

“The No 1 Way Design Program underscores the need to grow and foster diversity and creativity in our industry,” added Edwards. “We have chosen to work with HBCU students in order to celebrate the creative energy of this community and develop a platform to foster and express their individuality.”

Through the No 1 Way platform, Footaction will create an open stage for all creators to share their stories and style through their unique lens. Beyond the design competition – and launching in the coming months – Footaction will also introduce retail and pop-up activations, creative workshops, digital and social content programs, and branded collaborations, which will all speak to the creative and style-conscious community Footaction serves.

The Master Class will have the chance to showcase its designs during New York Fashion Week in February, with cash prizes going to the top three finalists. A final winner will be selected by a panel of judges and the winning No 1 Way collection will be produced and sold in Footaction stores nationwide. For more information or to apply to the Master Class, please visit