High school can be a fun, but also challenging time for teens. They are beginning to find out who they are, discover their interests, and begin making a path to their future. High school is a time when fitting in with and gaining the respect of peers matters so much.

When teens grow up in poverty, they face many hurdles around school. They are at a higher risk of dropping out. They have the constant stress of being in survival mode. Teens who lack basic necessities like shoes due to limited family finances can miss school, be held back in sports, or suffer embarrassment from wearing worn-out shoes. 

So, we were thrilled when Marcus Mariota, quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, expressed a desire to help high school students with new shoes! 

Marcus and his foundation, Motiv8, partnered with Matt Ryan, quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts, Matt and his wife Sarah’s foundation ATL: Advance the Lives, and NextGen to bring new athletic shoes to all 450 high school students at Carver STEAM Academy in Atlanta. Marcus explains, “Since joining the Falcons, Atlanta has embraced me and my family with open arms. As we expand our roots in Atlanta, our Motiv8 Foundation appreciates supporting events in the local community that introduce economic and educational programs and provide outlets for the youth. We at the Motiv8 Foundation are enjoying visiting Carver STEAM Academy and giving the kids the support and encouragement they need.” 

Marcus is all about empowering students through education and sports, helping them to dream big. And giving shoes is a perfect fit since properly fitting athletic shoes help teens focus on their studies and help them to play to their fullest potential in sports, not held back by shoes that pinch or trip them up. That’s exactly why Ryan wanted to help too – he shares, “Through this event, we’re encouraging the kids at Carver STEAM Academy to keep up the good work and introducing them to Next Generation Men and Women, an organization that has been engaging with students at Carver STEAM, building leadership skills and connecting Atlanta’s youth to internship opportunities across the city.”

Partnerships like these, and the support of generous people like you, provide new shoes, fitted for each student. It’s a beautiful way to make a difference for teens facing the challenges of poverty.

Thank you to Marcus Mariota, Motiv8 Foundation, Matt Ryan, and Next Gen for helping high school students step forward into a bright future!

And if you or your community would like to partner with Shoes That Fit to help vulnerable children, please make a gift at shoesthatfit.org/donate.