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Baltimore is a sneaker city, and that matters for its STEM pipeline

The Be. Org's supporters are getting fresh for youth enrichment at The Rita Rossi Colwell Center on April 6.

"Get Fresh: The process of getting clean, by showering or bathing. Then putting on the best of your clothes, prepared to take on the day." — Urban Dictionary (Courtesy The Be. Org)

If you, like The Be. Org, have been in Baltimore for a decade or more, nostalgic and catchy commercials like this one for a now-defunct, Baltimore-based shoe store ought to jog a memory or two.

Although that commercial was specific to one shoe store, it speaks volumes about the significance sneakers hold in the local community. This importance is something founders like Tonee Lawson have recognized, as evidenced in her nonprofit The Be. Org’s fifth annual Sneaker Ball fundraising gala on April 6.

“As we honor our founding, we will also put to rest the story that ‘no one from Baltimore ever makes it’ as we honor Baltimore natives that have made a tremendous impact in their respective industries,” said Lawson.

This year’s Sneaker Ball takes place on April 6 at The Rita Rossi Colwell Center in the Inner Harbor.

Check out some highlights from last year’s Sneaker Ball:

From Mayor Brandon Scott to individuals who simply wish to support The Be. Org in its mission to provide kids with experience in STEM, the event attracts a diverse array of attendees, according to Jay Simms, a PR representative for The Be. Org.

Mayor Brandon Scott in a dark suit behind a DJ set and green and white laptop.

Mayor Brandon M. Scott takes over the 1s and 2s at The Be. Org’s Sneaker Ball in 2023. (Courtesy The Be. Org)

“Baltimore is definitely a sneaker city,” said Simms.

She further cited the city’s culture and style as major reasons that dressing up is a centerpiece of the fundraiser event.

The fête will also be an opportunity to celebrate the organization’s ten years of service to Baltimore’s young people.

You’re invited, so grab your tix

All proceeds from the annual Sneaker Ball go towards supporting The Be. Org’s signature social-emotional learning, STEM and college readiness programs. These projects are aimed at Baltimorean children, whom Simms considers to be the next generation of dream makers.

Simms defined the Sneaker Ball’s target audience as everyone, from educators to that next-door neighbor who just wants to see everyone succeed. She also described the event as a merging of young professionals (The Be. Org staff are all still pretty young, she said) and the organization’s supporters, no matter their age.

“We want everyone who loves Baltimore and its youth to come out and, of course, they include elected officials and celebrity guests,” said Simms.

Several people in dresses and pants putting their sneaker-donning feet in a loose triangle.

Attendees at a previous Sneaker Ball showing off their kicks. (Courtesy The Be. Org)

Attendees can anticipate live entertainment, delicious food, an open bar and exciting activations. Early bird tickets are available starting at $175 until March 15.

“We like to go out and celebrate, and Baltimore has a vibrant culture of celebrating,” said Simms.

The spokesperson even offered her own style template, in case you want to follow it.

“I’ve been loving New Balances lately, so I think I’m gonna try to pair them with a dress,” said Simms.

The Be. Org has extended a special offer to Technical.ly’s community with a 10% discount for the 5th Annual Sneaker Ball. Simply use the discount code TechSB10 at checkout.

But you might want to move fast. Lawson anticipated 500 sneaker enthusiasts and The Be. Org supporters will attend.

“This will be a sold-out event,” said Lawson. “Get your tickets early to join in on the celebrations.”

Buy early bird tickets before March 15

Technical.ly is a media partner for the 2024 Sneaker Ball.

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