Our History

Two Ten Through The Decades

  1. Shoepeople Helping Shoepeople

    In the wake of the Great Depression the footwear industry was hurting. People in the shoe business still had not recovered from the most serious economic crisis in U.S. history. That’s when Two Ten was born. As the industry struggled to get back on its feet, a group of “shoe people” began to meet once a week at 210 Lincoln Street, a building in the leather district of Boston, Massachusetts – the birthplace of the shoe industry in the United States and home to the greatest concentration of footwear manufacturers, companies and workers at the time. This group came together to swap stories and they’d pass the hat, giving what they could to help the families most in need that week. Those simple acts of kindness inspired the founding of a small benevolent society dedicated to helping shoepeople in need. Founders A.A. Bloom, Abe Berkowitz, Morris Rosenston, and Al Schachat set up an office at 210 Lincoln Street and the organization they founded was initially known as 210 Associates.

  2. Establishing National Reach

    Two Ten grew rapidly during the wartime era. Annual banquets and golf tournaments helped raise awareness across the industry and by 1945 Two Ten had become a national organization. Two Ten supported those working in the industry through emergency financial relief for hardship cases. Two Ten helped footwear families in crisis settle hospital bills, pay funeral expenses, avoid utility shutoffs, and get caught up on delinquent mortgages. Two Ten also collaborated with the Red Cross to set up a “mobile canteen” that could conduct door-to-door outreach in the Boston shoe community, providing assistance where it could.

  3. Expanding Disaster Response

    Two Ten began supporting the industry through emergency financial relief for everything from hospital bills, to missed mortgage payments, to funeral expenses, utility payments and other necessary expenses. Two Ten also started an initiative with the Red Cross, paying for a Mobile Canteen to help reach the Boston shoe community door-to-door as an alternative to a check.

  1. Lifting Lives through Education

    During the turbulence of the 1960s, Two Ten continued to expand its services to support the footwear community. Counseling services and outreach efforts were expanded and Foundation leadership began long-range planning for other types of support that lift lives in the footwear community. In 1969, Two Ten introduced its first college scholarship program, making awards to 20 scholars that first year.

  2. Continued Growth

    Two Ten’s scholarship program continued to grow throughout the 1970s and by the end of the decade the Foundation was awarding 175 scholarships annually to industry employees who wanted to advance themselves as well as children of industry employees pursuing college dreams. By making higher education more affordable for footwear families, Two Ten was doing its part to strengthen the industry workforce and support the career aspirations of community members.

  3. Recognizing a Threat

    Two Ten Footwear Foundation continued to strengthen the footwear community by expanding support services through the 1980s. And, as news of the AIDs epidemic spread, Two Ten responded to the emerging crisis by supporting industry leaders advocating for HIV/AIDs research, public information about prevention, new medical treatments, and clinical trials. Early in the 1990s Two Ten developed and distributed educational resources nationwide to corporations, shoe stores, and warehouses to provide the industry with information on the virus—information that wasn’t yet being offered through public health departments.

  4. Extending a Hand

    Two Ten Footwear Foundation has always focused on the needs of U.S footwear industry employees but as the globalization of business intensified during the 1990s—and global financial markets experienced a great deal of volatility—some members of the international footwear community reached out for help and Two Ten responded. For a brief period of time Two Ten extended emergency financial services to shoepeople in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Canada. By the end of decade, however, Two Ten once again narrowed its focus to serving members of the U.S. footwear community.

  5. Moving into the 21st Century

    Through generous support from the industry community, Two Ten Footwear Foundation continued to expand its scholarship program, making awards to hundreds of employees and their children every year. Two Ten also began partnering directly with leading design schools including Fashion Institute of Technology, Pensole Footwear Academy and the Arsutoria School, and introduced funding programs for professional development in addition to tuition assistance for traditional college degree programs. Two Ten built stronger partnerships with educational institutions and increased opportunity for industry employees seeking advancement within the industry.

  6. Putting Community at the Fore

    During the 2010s the Foundation introduced many new initiatives designed to meet the changing needs of the U.S. footwear industry and its workforce. In addition to offering emergency financial support, natural disaster recovery, counseling services and scholarships to footwear employees and their families, Two Ten began to offer more opportunities for community service and volunteering through its FootwearCares program. Two Ten also supported the development of affinity groups, networking/professional groups, and industry leadership councils that would serve to bring together industry professionals and advance the industry workforce. One of the Foundation’s most notatable initiatives of this decade was supporting the founding of the Two Ten Women in the Footwear Industry (WIFI) community by industry leaders Diane Sullivan and Carol Baiocchi. WIFI quickly evolved into an important forum for women in the industry and WIFI chapters sprang up in metro areas across the country.

  7. Building a More Inclusive Industry

    Now well into our ninth decade, the Two Ten organization continues to grow and evolve. But the core of our mission remains the same. We offer U.S. footwear families help and hope in hard times through our Disaster and Hardship Relief Fund and we provide free and confidential access to a robust employee assistance program that includes legal, financial and mental health counseling as well as life coaching, work/life balance tools, and resources to enhance employee wellbeing—at work and at home. Two Ten’s education programs provide funding for employee upskilling and professional development as well as opportunity for footwear employees and their children to pursue higher education. Two Ten's affinity/networking groups and industry councils connect footwear professionals to peers across the industry to build a more vibrant footwear community. And we have redoubled our efforts to support diverse emerging leaders across the industry, working towards achieving our vision of a more equitable and inclusive industry.