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Registration opens for Knoxville Area Urban League’s Shoes for School

April 16, 2024

Families receiving support through local nonprofits can register their children, age 12 and younger, now through July 1 to receive a free pair of shoes at the Knoxville Area Urban League’s Shoes for School. The order form and other event information are available at

Shoes for School is celebrating 22 years of helping kids build confidence and succeed in the classroom. The event will be held Saturday, Aug. 3, at Chilhowee Park & Exposition Center’s Jacob Building from 9 a.m.-noon.

A child proudly shows off her new pair at the 2023 Shoes for School.

“This year, we are excited to provide even more resources at Shoes for School to help students and families prepare for the year ahead,” said Dr. Charles F. Lomax Jr., Knoxville Area Urban League president and CEO. “We are partnering with Knoxville-area businesses to host an employment and vendor fair that parents and guardians can attend at the same time to make the most of their time and learn about job and career opportunities. The vendors also will feature small businesses with items of interest for all ages.”

Not everyone is eligible to receive shoes, and families that receive pairs must plan to attend the event with the registered child for pickup. These requirements ensure low-income and disadvantaged families receive much-needed support, especially amid rising back-to-school costs, and the various nonprofits establish eligibility.

All attendees can pick up school supplies and enjoy free food, games, inflatables and giveaways from dozens of booth sponsors. Parents, guardians and high-school-aged siblings of registered children are encouraged to take advantage of opportunities offered by employers onsite and support small businesses that have vendor booths at the event.

Shoes for School follows Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs’ School Mania, a school supply drive for Knox County students from preschool through 12th grade, happening on Friday, July 26, from 3-6 p.m. in the Jacob Building parking lot.

“These back-to-back events are an incredible opportunity for families to check off their supply lists and show the strength of our community,” Jacobs said. “We are proud to support students across Knox County, and we appreciate the Knoxville Area Urban League and many more partners for helping kids put their best foot forward on their first day.”

Shoes for School booth registration also is open now. Companies, civic and nonprofit organizations, church groups and others are encouraged to register. Once accepted, the registered participants can expect a list of recommended supplies to distribute and logistical details from the Knoxville Area Urban League (KAUL). Employers and small business owners interested in vending at the event can apply now as well. Sponsors and volunteers also are being recruited now.

All applications are available at, and individuals can call KAUL with questions at 865-524-5511.

“Our youngest citizens are our future, and it is crucial that we provide them with the necessary resources and opportunities to thrive,” Lomax said. “Please consider sponsoring Shoes for School, reserving a booth or participating in our employment and vendor fair to ensure our community continues to thrive for generations to come.”

Shoes for School is presented by Tennessee Valley Authority. Shoes are provided by Shoe Carnival. The event would not be possible without the collaboration of multiple agencies across East Tennessee and KAUL members.

About the Knoxville Area Urban League

Since 1968, the Knoxville Area Urban League has assisted disadvantaged people attain social and economic stability and self-sufficiency through direct services and advocacy. The League works to provide a skilled and diverse workforce; to increase homeownership; to support economic and small business development, and to enhance education efforts for our youth. The Knoxville Area Urban League is a United Way partner agency and affiliate of the National Urban League. The League’s work and results are evident in the lives of the more than 8,000 people it impacts each year. For more information, call 865-524-5511 or visit