In 2021, Hibbett pledged more than $500,000 and in partnership with Nike the donation was increased to $750,000 for the 86 adopted schools. The philanthropic initiative was developed as a community outreach program to help local schools and athletic programs in neighborhoods that are often left behind. The unique Sole School approach combines identifying schools in need, Hibbett and City Gear staff outreach, monetary and in-kind support. Hibbett has been a member of the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA) since 1959.
"We launched the Sole School program at City Gear 6 years ago and with its success, we wanted to expand our impact to more schools that may have been hard hit by the pandemic, budget cuts or other challenges," said Michael Longo, President and CEO, Hibbett Sports. "Being a community partner is in our DNA and we remain committed to improving the lives of next generations, especially in those areas that tend to lack resources."
Sole School is a multi-pronged philanthropic program that awarded 86 high schools in 35 states with the Sole School moniker. By the end of 2021, Hibbett will have presented checks to each of the Sole Schools to support education and athletics. Each of the selected schools will also receive mentoring from local Hibbett and City Gear staff. Employment opportunities are available for interested high school students looking for a great first job at City Gear or Hibbett Sports. The Sole School initiative was originally launched by the company's City Gear brand in 2015 and has since impacted hundreds of students.
"Hibbett Sports in Atmore is valuable to our community in so many ways. The Atmore Hibbett store is literally one block away from Escambia County High so our athletes and coaches shop there regularly and even though Hibbett is a national chain, to Atmore, they are our hometown store," said Amy Cabaniss, Principal, Escambia County High School and Sole School. "The Sole School Program was a special blessing to our boys' basketball program for several reasons. Due to COVID, we did not make a profit from gate receipts on any of our games this year. We are a small-town and it is difficult to raise funds to cover many of our student/athlete expenses in a regular school year.
"This program will make it possible to purchase much needed equipment and provide workout gear to our athletes that would otherwise need to purchase themselves. We are grateful to have been chosen, especially with the sad and unexpected passing of John Shears, our Head Boys' Basketball Coach. Sole Schools came to us at a time when we needed blessings and support, including mentoring which may be especially helpful to many of our students."
"We are grateful to lend support to educators and students across the country and connect them with our talented Hibbett and City Gear Leaders in the communities where we serve," said Ben Knighten, Senior Vice President, Store Operations, Hibbett Sports.