Updated: Mar 22, 2019
One of the inspiring organizations we learned about on our tour through Ponyride (check out our last post to catch up if you missed it!) was started single handedly by a 19 year old boy from Detroit, proving that age is never a roadblock to making a difference.
In 2012, Josh York began stitching his last name on beanies and selling them to his friends at local music shows. The venture proved successful and Josh realized that as he scaled, he also had the power to give back to his community. In February 2013, borrowing the one for one model made popular by the shoe brand TOMS, he began to donate one beanie for each one purchased to the Detroit Christian Services homeless outreach center. A month later Josh partnered with PB&J Outreach, an organization that provides the homeless community with necessities, where he and his team learned of the much greater need for things such as socks, gloves, toilet paper and underwear. The team quickly redirected their efforts to put together kits to donate (consisting of socks, bottled water, toilet paper and a durable tote bag) instead of beanies. The apparel line grew to include many other items, and continuing with the same model, York Project began donating one donation kit per product sold. They have now made over 24,000 donations in 23 cities nationwide.
Taking it a step further, York Project has now partnered up with Detroit women’s shelter, Alternative for Girls, and their social enterprise Sew Great Detroit, which is also housed at Ponyride (didn’t we tell you that there is such a great collaborative flow going on there?!). SGD teaches women how to sew and make products for sale and the York Project will now train and hire two women from the program for their team. This allows them to not only help provide the homeless community with necessities but to also provide resources.
While initially Josh was making donations across the country, he has decided to focus his efforts on Detroit and making a bigger impact on his own community. Aside from the donations, all of the apparel is made in Detroit, creating local jobs. Also, York Project partnered up with Shinola, Detroit’s luxury goods company, as of fall 2018 to collaborate on a collection of Shinola shirts and as well as sweatshirts designed for the Shinola Hotel team members.
It’s safe to say that York Project bring the hashtag they started printing on much of their apparel to life: #CreateChange.
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