Vans Establishes Full Scholarship

By 
Margot Edwards

Vans, the original action sports footwear and apparel brand, and Berklee College of Music have partnered to establish the Vans Berklee Off the Wall Scholarship: a four-year award that covers full tuition, room, and board. The scholarship will be awarded annually to a talented musician from the United States. This is the first educational initiative of its kind for Vans, a brand rich in music culture that supports creative musicians and has deep roots in genres ranging from punk and metal to indie rock and hip-hop.

At Vans, the concept of off the wall is a state of mind, thinking differently and embracing people who love art, music, action sports, and/or street culture. The ideal candidate for the Vans Berklee Scholarship will demonstrate the off-the-wall spirit via his or her self-expression through music. The scholarship will be awarded to a musician whose focus and talent represents Vans’s dedication to musical innovation.

When Vans first opened its doors nearly 50 years ago in Anaheim, CA, the Van Doren family, which launched the brand, always made a point to give back to the community in which it worked. That spirit of giving continues as Vans remains committed to support the communities, environments, and creative platforms of action sports, youth development, art, and now music.

“Berklee awarded its first bachelor of music degrees in 1966, the year Vans was founded,” says Kevin Bailey, Vans’s president. “Throughout the decades, Vans and Berklee have both celebrated the freedom and individuality that comes from creative expression, making it a perfect partnership,” he said. “Vans’s history has been built alongside athletes, artists, designers, and musicians as each has made Vans part of the canvas of their lives. That’s something we look for in all of our brand relationships. We are looking forward to a long relationship together embracing and elevating students’ creativity.”

Not only will the student awarded the Vans Berklee Scholarship be able to focus on pursuing his or her music education without financial concerns, but also the recipient will be immersed in Vans culture, outfitted with a Vans-themed dorm room and laptop. The recipient will also be able to showcase his or her musical talents during events and at venues such as House of Vans and the Vans Warped Tour.

The scholarship recipient isn’t the only beneficiary of the partnership. Vans is committed to providing additional opportunities for Berklee students, including performances at House of Vans locations and Vans’s Open Mic Nights at its venues across the country. Vans Vinyl will also collaborate with Berklee’s student-run label Heavy Rotation Records to produce and distribute a compilation of student music. Upper classman will also have the chance to participate in a music-related summer internship at Vans.

“Here you find two institutions with like-minded philosophies: freedom of self-expression through creativity,” said Jeffrey Dorenfeld, Berklee professor of music business/management and adviser to Heavy Rotation Records, who spearheaded the partnership with Vans. “For Vans it can be demonstrated on a skateboard, a bike, or on stage. At Berklee, creativity is found in the classroom, on stage, in a studio, or behind a computer. Together we hope to enable students to live out their dreams.”

“The scholarship is the result of a two-year collaboration between the great folks at Vans and Berklee’s offices of institutional advancement, academic affairs, scholarship and admissions, alumni affairs, external affairs, and the president’s office,” says Mirek Vana, Senior Advancement Officer. “We’re all excited about the start of a great relationship between our organizations.”