“We know there’s massive inequalities in access to careers within creativity,” says Converse CMO Jesse Stollak. “If we create new pipelines of experience, we can open an engine for youth opportunity.”  

This idea underpins the expanded Converse All Stars program. At its core, the program hinges on a robust community-focused ecosystem of mentorship, commission and funding; Converse’s global network facilitates a capacity-building ecosystem that helps young creatives gain professional experience and opportunity. 

“It is about giving creatives across mediums opportunities to accelerate and amplify the impact they are trying to make for themselves and for their communities,” says Stollak.

For more than two years, Converse has been steadily growing, engaging and building with a grassroots global group of more than 3,000 individuals from more than 27 cities, spanning Los Angeles to Lima — the Converse All Stars. These emerging leaders champion change in sport and culture. Converse aims to hone their creative talents and amplify their voices, supported by opportunities to co-create creative work and shape the future of Converse on its social and digital platforms. 

This fall, for the first time, Converse is opening this community to the public, inviting up to 250 creative individuals to join Converse All Stars through November 2020. New members will have the opportunity to engage with the All Star Series, an ongoing experience of one-of-a-kind workshops, conversations and performances facilitated by Converse’s extended creative family. The most recent All Star Series session included the likes of Issa Rae, Lay Zhang, Tobe Nwigwe, Jefferson Hack, Virgil Abloh and Samuel Ross. 

“With the All Star Series, we’re able to share this amazing creative curriculum,” says Stollak. “The programming is designed to provide access to real-world advice, building confidence and getting valuable feedback on ideas.”

Converse’s commitment to the community is punctuated by a $1 million accelerator program, Converse All Star Captains. This portion of the program aims to fast track the progress of 13 individual All Stars who strive to define new possibilities through creative action in sustainability, inclusivity, diversity and youth development — areas where progress is critically needed today. 

This generation creates with intent — they’re operating with an urgency and focused on where the world needs change. We want to champion ideas that create more opportunity to accelerate this impact.

Jesse Stollak, Converse CMO

Converse All Star Captains was conceived for and by the Converse All Stars community during the course of nine months, with a core group of 13 individuals from nine countries steering its final format. The committee includes Harvard College Student Body President and Vice President, James Mathew and Ifeoma “Ify” White-Thorpe, who unexpectedly went viral in November 2019 for their groundbreaking and inclusive undergraduate council campaign. 

“This generation creates with intent — they’re operating with an urgency and focused on where the world needs change. We want to champion ideas that create more opportunity to accelerate this impact,” says Stollak.

In October 2020, All Stars will have the opportunity to submit individual proposals to the Converse creative network. Beginning in 2021, the first annual class of Captains — which will include Mathew and White-Thorpe — will each receive a year’s worth of funding for their ideas along with mentorship opportunities from the Converse creative network. This Captains’ class will also be directly and actively involved in providing feedback for and insights into Converse brand work, selecting future All Stars and influencing the experiences and programming of the All Star Series.

“This is a shift of thinking: from witness to co-conspirator,” says Stollak. “While Converse footwear has been worn by cultural pioneers and changemakers in history, now we are striving to make change together.” 

To learn more, including how to join Converse All Stars, visit converse.com/allstars

A new film articulates the ambition of Converse All Stars and teams four of its community members with leading creative innovators as mentors. Written by Ify White-Thorpe under the mentorship of Issa Rae; original music by James and Phillip Mathew under the mentorship of Tyler, the Creator, and directed by Leo Aguirre.