Every DPS and high school student who attended school for the entire day yesterday, Oct. 3, will soon be able to pick up a free pair black leather, low-top Nike sneakers thanks to Bob’s Kicks For Count day campaign.
Jason Johnson and Christian Dorsey, owners of the Midtown shoe shop Bob’s Classic Kicks, created the non-profit Kicks For Count Day and raised the funds to donate more than 20,000 high quality sneakers to all kids attending a DPS high school all day on Count Day.
“We are a product of DPS,” Johnson said of himself and is business partner Dorsey. The two attended Martin Luther King High School together. “We’re just giving back to what created us and where they’re saying all the blues are. We need to give something to the blues people.”
Count Day is crucial for public school districts across Michigan, a attendance on these day is directly correlated to the amount of per-pupil funding each district will get from the state.
This year marks the debut of Bob’s Kicks for Count Day according to Johnson and Dorsey. Johnson said that the program is annual and one that he plans to expand it to include all DPS students, k-12, on Count Days in the coming years.
“We shouldn’t be the only ones doing something like this,” said Dorsey adding that school funding and attendance is crucial to the quality of our future leaders. “Hopefully, this opens up the door for a bunch of stuff. This is what we’re serious about.”
The business owners and non-profit founders said they got some heat for offering to donate the shoes as an incentive for kids to attend school. .
“Some People called it a bribe, that’s ridiculous,” Johnson said. He compared the shoe incentive to giving away coats on a cold day or turkeys for Thanksgiving. “We’re giving something that children really need,” he said.
The Kicks for Count Day campaign is a community initiative with heavy donations from individuals in the Detroit community.
The two recalled their DPS days and said they have noticed some progress the district has made since then.
“It’s dope this year for DPS,” Dorsey said. “They never gave us any books or laptops, you might get a pizza party but that’s about it,” he said. “They pay more attention to attendance now. If you don’t show up to class, they call your house.”
Dorsey also noted that DPS has rebuilt a lot of its old facilities “They got a new King, Cass, Mumford and Finney. When we went to school these buildings were still old,” he said.
As for doing business in the City of Detroit, the two have no complaints.
“We have good days here.” Johnson said. “Businesses keep moving here so something’s gotta be right. People need to realize Detroit is where it’s at.”
After meeting with DPS emergency financial manager Roy Roberts, Johnson and Dorsey said they were impressed.
“We had a long conversation with him. He’s trying to do something positive for the district,” Dorsey said. “And from what I’m understanding, they’re having record numbers in school today.”
The shoes could be distributed as soon as next week when attendance records are tallied and all precautions are taken to eliminate fraud and make sure each eligible student gets a pair. All qualifying DPS high school students will be able to redeem a voucher for one free pair of black Nike sneakers at Bob’s Classic Kicks on Woodward.
Johnson founded Bob’s Classic Kicks 8 years ago and the business continues to thrive today.
Dorsey and Johnson urge students to go to school not just on Count Day. “You have to be in school all day, every day, that’s the only way you’re going to get educated,” Dorsey said.
The message the Johnson and Dorsey have for DPS students is one of hope.
“We want kids to know you can graduate from DPS and still own your own business, go to college, be doctor or lawyer, whatever you want,” they said noting that many DPS students are downtrodden by the district’s image. “It’s deep. We just want to be on the same playing field as everybody else.”