Thanks to the work of five UCSB alumni who helped to create the non- profit, when you buy a backpack made by Ark Collective, the organization donates another one to underprivileged students in Los Angeles.
Founded by University of Southern California alumnus Kevin Moshayedi in 2009, the burgeoning company uses a similar business model as TOMS Shoes, but donates a new backpack to a needy student with every purchase. The packs are available in green, tan and gray and retail for $60 at Cajé in Isla Vista and online at arkcollective. com.
According to Marketing and Sales Promoter Michael Kote — a UCSB alumnus and one of Ark Collective’s six primary members — Moshayedi grew concerned with the lack of school supplies in the L.A. Unified School District when he noticed numerous students carrying supplies in their hands or in plastic bags to school.
Kote said the program has already distributed almost 300 bags to disadvantaged L.A. youth.
“We wanted to start something socially conscious so we’ve been trying really hard to develop the charitable side of our company,” Kote said. “We’ve teamed up with Operation School Bell — they find kids in need of supplies — and then we give them backpackswith hygienic cosmetic kits, dictionaries and calculators.”
He said the organization is still in the start-up process and welcomes any and all input.
“The theme of the company is community growth, community building and promoting social consciousness, which hopefully becomes a theme of the community,” Kote said. “We love hearing feedback, getting comments, receiving help and we want more and more people to get involved.”
While the company is based on the backpack exchange, Kote said Ark has also been working to expand its impact on the community. They instituted a weekly event called “Treasure Tuesdays,” where they host a service project in local neighborhoods.
“We’re giving back locally and we’re trying to take it a step farther,” Kote said. “Every Tuesday, we try to benefit the community with events like beach clean-ups or serving at the soup kitchen. We’re trying to inspire more of this to happen in the community.”
Although the program is based in Santa Ana, Calif., Ark has been working with the Santa Barbara Media Group — a UCSB student-run advertising agency — to promote its brand.
Jennifer Lande, SB Media Group creative planner for the Ark Collective account and a second-year communication major, said the organization helps advance the Ark mission by creating flyers, media graphics and advertisements for the group.
“The program is important because they are trying to spread awareness of what’s going on in L.A.,” Lande said. “By buying a backpack for $60, you can supply an [underprivileged] elementary or middle school student with necessary school supplies.”
Noah Greenberg, SB Media Group account manager for the Ark Collective account, said buying a backpack from the organization can be fulfilling on more than a material basis.
“Ark Collective is a really cool project to get involved in,” Greenberg said. “It’s an easy opportunity to help out and give back while actually just getting a backpack for yourself.”