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Pensole Academy Expand Sneaker Talent Pipeline with Online Courses

The Pensole Footwear Design Academy is looking to expand its influence in the footwear talent pipeline via a new partnership with online education platform Yellowbrick, bringing its design courses to a larger audience.

The two programs share a “complementary” approach to education in the fashion industry, Pensole said. But whereas Pensole focuses on an in-person bootcamp-style system to reach young designers, Yellowbrick offers the same information through its online programs, typically in concert with universities or brands.

“Our goal has always been to help the next generation discover career paths that align to their passions and aptitude, and Pensole shares that same goal in the footwear and apparel industries,”Yellowbrick president and CEO Rob Kingyens said in a statement. “By working together, we’re increasing access and opportunity for the undiscovered talent that employers in these growing industries are actively seeking to fill new roles.”

The pair said the program will help to identify a prospective student’s talent and most likely role in the fashion industry, providing a service to both the student and brands looking to find “under-the-radar” talent. Yellowbrick will also direct students of its programs to the Pensole Academy’s in-person courses, ideally increasing recruitment for the academy based in Portland, Ore.

Aspiring students will be fed through Yellowbrick’s program to find the right education pathway, which Pensole said can be determined by their location, industry knowledge and skill. Later, they’ll be exposed to the industry opportunities best suited for them.

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This is a cause the Pensole Academy has been dedicated to since its inception in 2010.

“There’s no question that there’s an immediate need for more diversity in our industrythis is where the greatest creativity comes from and it’s a value that both Pensole and Yellowbrick share,” D’Wayne Edwards, founder of Pensole, said in a statement. “By joining forces, we’re able to reach a greater number of people who are passionate about sneaker and streetwear culture and we can find ways to funnel talent into the industry.”

Over the decade, Pensole has helped 475 students land professional positions in the apparel industry. Companies including Under Armour, Adidas, Jordan, New Balance, Cole Haan, Reebok and Nike have taken Pensole graduates into their ranks.

At the beginning of 2019, the Pensole Academy was also the recipient of a $1 million investment from Foot Locker as a part of its Greenhouse incubator program. In November, Foot Locker and New Balance teamed up with the academy to sponsor Pensole’s latest footwear design competition. Prizes include internships with Foot Locker and New Balance along with gear and paid tuition.