A child holding sandals
A child holding sandals

Our longtime partner Outdoor Afro has been leading the way for inclusion in outdoor recreation for over a decade and recently launched the Making Waves program to help overcome an alarming public health disparity: many Black kids don't know how to swim.

“A few years ago, we were made aware of a very troubling statistic," says Outdoor Afro Founder Rue Mapp. "That Black children were drowning in this country at over 5 times the rate of white children. And once we became aware of that statistic, Outdoor Afro decided to do something about it. And we decided that we were going to offer Swimmerships™ or swim scholarships to every child and their caregiver in our sphere of influence.”

KEEN jumped in with two years of funding, and together we were able to help over 100 kids learn to swim, despite the challenges of conducting swim lessons during a global pandemic. But we wanted to do more. And as shoemakers, we had an idea: create a KEEN x Outdoor Afro collab collection of water sandals that make a wave in every way — with 1% of proceeds going to Outdoor Afro to help Black kids learn to swim. Our goal is to help create 100,000 new swimmers over 10 years.

Behind the Design: Inspired By & For Nature

KEEN x Outdoor Afro sandals for the whole family

Artwork by Outdoor Afro volunteer leader Leandra Taylor

"I hope this amphibious collection reflects the joy and inspiration that can be found in nature."

– Leandra Taylor, artist and Outdoor Afro volunteer leader

For this special sandal collection launching in spring 2022, we started with our hybrid fan faves — Newport H2, Astoria West, and kids' Stingray — and turned to talented artist and Outdoor Afro volunteer leader Leandra Taylor to create original artwork for it.

Leandra finds joy and inspiration in nature — which is reflected in her paintings and in her field work introducing Black people to the outdoors. For this piece, Leandra discovered a whole new painting style that she simply describes as "flow" after taking time to reset outside. We love how the KEEN x Outdoor Afro collection brings both of her passions together by helping make exploring nature and its waterways more accessible to all.

Because when kids learn to swim, the whole world is open to them. They can feel comfortable fishing at a lake, floating down a river, and exploring tidepools in the ocean. And just being a kid. Like Bryson, an Outdoor Afro Swimmership™ recipient who wants more kids to not be afraid of the water.

Make a Wave With Us

We want to inspire and support 99,999 more Brysons. Here's how you can help:

1. Buy a pair of KEEN x Outdoor Afro sandals
Or buy one for everyone in your family! Matching summer sandals is even more fun than matching jammies. 1% of every purchase helps fund Making Waves swimmerships, and you'll help raise awareness every time you wear them.

2. Donate directly to Outdoor Afro
$10 funds a lesson. $100 pays for a full swimmership. (If you're a KEEN Corps member, don't forget to log your donation for points.)

3. Learn more and spread the word
It takes all of us to change the future of swimming and make outside more accessible to everyone. See how we got here to be part of the movement that reverses the tide.

1% of net sales from the sale of all products in the KEEN x Outdoor Afro product line sold at keenfootwear.com, KEEN Garages, and to retail partners globally will be donated to Outdoor Afro. Minimum donation of $35,000.

Kids in KEEN x Outdoor Afro sandals getting ready to swim

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