Idea by HavASole

We aspire to connect and give 10,000 men, women and children comfortable and properly fitting shoes. We restore dignity by learning each person’s name while personally fitting them with a quality footwear. Our work increases the sense of social responsibility with donors and volunteers offering them viral ways to become involved. Funds will enable us to build the infrastructure and expand our outreach to impact at-risk Californians who use their feet as an average mode of transportation.


Briefly tell us a story that demonstrates how your organization turns inspiration into impact.

Hav a Sole is an organization truly inspired by one young man’s personal experience and on the premise of virally paying it forward! As a young boy, Hav A Sole founder, Rikki Mendias spent years in a shelter with his mother. During that challenging time they couldn’t even afford to buy a pair of shoes. One day a former resident noticed he had holes in the bottom of his sneakers and took him to buy two new pairs. Rikki never forgot her kindness, but the feeling he got from having new kicks, spawned an insatiable need in him to collect shoes.

Fast forward, to 2014, Rikki had over one hundred and fifty pair of shoes, when he suddenly realized there were people out there who had none. That’s when he loaded the back of his car and drove the streets until he found someone who could benefit from a newer pair of shoes. With their permission, Rikki took a before and after photo and posted it on social media. Inspired, many of his followers started sending in tennis shoes from all over the country, and that’s how Hav A Sole was born.

Rikki sees homelessness as a big equity issue given that individuals experiencing homelessness are some of the most marginalized and disadvantaged people in our society. Focusing resources and investments on youth and homeless communities that have been left behind will produce the greatest returns. Accordingly we have developed this program to address one of the major inequities in the communities we serve.

Hav A Sole Wheels has touched thousands of lives through, social activism, volunteering and building community. In four years we've given out over 13,000 pairs of shoes in 20 cities while touching thousands of lives.

Our efforts included an emergency fundraiser held in Los Angeles for the Hurricane Harvey victims. This event took place over an entire weekend at Horace Mann Junior High bringing together individuals and grass root organizations from local communities which produced 1,500 pairs of shoes and carloads of supplies fitting a 53-foot semi-truck which transported these supplies to Houston by the Hav A Sole team.

Recently, Hav A Sole relocated its offices and storage space directly in the Downtown Los Angeles’ Skid Row area where many of these programs take place.

Which of the LIVE metrics will your submission impact?​​

Obesity rates

Rates of homelessness

Walk/bike/transit score

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?​

City of Los Angeles

How will your project make LA the best place to LIVE?

Our mission is to restore confidence through our services to homeless, youth and individuals in need of footwear. With partners and generous donors, we bring a retail experience offering choice of quality footwear to those in need.

Our movement affects individuals who receives the shoes while increasing a sense of responsibility for donors and volunteers offering them a way connect. Hav A Sole’s goal for 2019 is to double our efforts so we can increase the amount of shoes given out, our programs and outreach includes:

1. Hav A Sole Direct Outreach (local daily) — Through our daily outreach we ensure anytime we see a need we can fill that need for reliable footwear. On a daily basis our team identify, fit, and donates shoes to those in need —yes, that means if we cross paths with a homeless person in need of shoes, we offer help on the spot!

2. Hav A Sole Partnerships Local Distribution Events— partnership with various footwear companies we organize donation events to encourage shoe lovers to donate their unwanted shoes. We then organize volunteer days to distribute the footwear. Each outreach day is a chance to foster partnerships, encourage community service, and make a real connection within the community.

3. #havAsolefultrip — In collaboration with various NBA team owners, players, coaches and fans, we organize 2-3 nationwide outreaches per year to bring attention to the national crisis of homelessness. These successful outreach allow us to collect shoes and other donations, while viral connections are made both on and off-line

4. Disaster Relief — In the past 2 years, Hav A Sole has had the opportunity and resources to organize and mobilize outreach teams during several heartbreaking natural disasters. With a surplus in shoes and a warehouse to keep them, we aim to be the number one distributor of footwear during natural disasters.

5. Hav A Sole Kids — through our partnership with NBA to provide shoes and other resources to children participating in NBA children and youth programs we organize and distribute shoe donations to school aged children.

This project will make measurable progress towards making LA the best place to LIVE using the LA2050 our programs will support the following metrics:

1. Walk/bike/transit - through viral campaigns we will use this platform to inform and include all donors and receivers in our walking campaigns including an annual Sock Walk.

2. Homelessness - as we connect with these individuals we seek to explore ways to connect them with basic needs resources.

3. Obesity - Our campaigns encourage walking, hiking, and other activity related group recreation as well as a focus on promoting healthier lifestyles.

4. Rates of Volunteerism - We have a high rate of volunteers ranging from donors, social media followers, as well as NBA and other high profile supporters as we focus on recruiting all donors to become volunteers.

In what stage of innovation is this project?​

Expand existing program (expanding and continuing ongoing successful projects)

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.​

What began as a passion project has grown into something much bigger. In addition to collecting and distributing 10,000 shoes we seek to meet the increased need for Hav A Sole’s services, we need to expand resources and increase capacity. As we work to expand services and bring more opportunities for the homeless and youth to have a better quality of life. We have outlined the objectives, activities, and outcomes that will take our organization to the next level of sustainability. Funding granted will directly fund the objectives and activities listed below:

Objective 1: To Enhance the Board and Staff’s Ability to Carry Out the Mission of the organization


1. Formally hire our Executive Director, Operations Manager, Executive Assistant/Contracted employee for administrative work

2. Provide Training For Top Organization Personnel

3. Develop Board Recruitment Strategy


-Expand program hours

- Increase in our annual events

-Increase in annual shoe drives, distribution, and community involvement

-Focus on deeper partnerships that will bring viral focus on the need for community involvement in solving bringing basic needs to the homeless, low income, and at-risk community members

- Deeper focus on meaningful interactions with youth, using a basic need item (shoes) to connect and show them they are important

Objective 2: To build a sustainable long-term resource that will address the need for footwear and other basic necessity while fostering a culture of community involvement and volunteerism


1. Create One calendar of events with all key dates

2. Develop Donor tracking and distribution

3. Engage digitally with potential donors


-Improve Data management

-Identify and cultivate resources to not only advance the mission but to address the infrastructure for developing of Hav A Sole as a long-term resource for recycling footwear and making them available to all those who need them

-Improved sustainability

-Increased efficiency

Objective 3: Foster Sustainable Fundraising Infrastructure


1. Contract with Grant Development Partners

2. Engage and challenge Board to fundraise

3. Develop Fundraising tracking platform

4. Engage with current donors to encourage monthly giving and yearly commitments

5. Host 2 Signature Fundraising events


-Diversified funding portfolio that allows for continued capital and growth potential

-Secure funding necessary to continuously build programs that match the organizations growing mission

-Identify and recruit 2 new Board Members