CSEF Founders on Why Sending Skateboarders to College is the Future

The foundation held its first fundraiser, gathering more then $5k towards supplementing youth education.

In November 2017, a group of pro skaters and industry vets came together to launch College Skateboarding Educational Foundation, or CSEF.

CSEF aims to give opportunities to young skateboarders who are also passionate about getting an education, but may not have the resources to make that happen.

International Association of Skateboarding Companies (IASC) Executive Director Thomas Barker teamed up with Keegan Guizard and USC Professor Neftalie Williams to get the foundation up and running. From there, they built a team of pro skaters, including Ryan Lay and Walker Ryan, as well as industry vets Ian Smile, CSEF’s creative director, and Pat Sison, brand illustrator. Guizard serves as executive director, while Williams and Barker are co-chairman of the board.

CSEF founders interview

Thomas Barker, FS Carve.

“My goal in life is to help skateboarders and skateboarding, and this is an extension of that,” says Barker. “This year is about us proving the need for what we do. Next year, I’d love to see a scholarship named after a pro skater and more companies getting involved.”

Last month, the foundation hosted it’s first fundraiser in Los Angeles, featuring an art and photo exhibition with a chance to purchase pieces from the likes of Dave Chami, Atiba Jefferson, Don Pendleton, Paul Kobriger, Ed Templeton, and many others.

Despite the rainy weather, the LA gallery was packed with industry vets, skaters and artists including Clint Peterson, Seu Trinh, Steve Berra and Danny Montoya. Between art sales and donations, the event collectively raised nearly $5k toward the college education fund.

Since then, CSEF has set up an online auction to continue the momentum, featuring photography and original art.

We wanted to hear more about CSEF, the direction Guizard and team are taking things and what’s next for the future of skateboarding and its community.

CSEF founders interview

CSEF Founder Keegan Guizard.

How long has this idea been in the making and why did you feel so passionate about this cause?

Keegan: Since the beginnings of Collegiate Skate Tour in early 2012, the concept of an actual scholarship for skateboarders was always a future possibility.

Meeting college student skaters from all corners of the US (and beyond) fostered a motivation to support them as students by subsidizing their tuition bills (often the most expensive part of their lives). As past students ourselves, we get it and hope to inspire more skaters to further educate themselves.

Thomas: I’ve been thinking about this idea since about 2009. My final project when I went back to get my professional certificates in non-profit business management was actually a business plan for an organization that gave scholarships to skateboarders.

I’ve been passionate about this since I had an awakening around 2008, when my lens shifted from just 100% skateboarding all the time, to becoming interested in how the world works. Most of my skate friends didn’t graduate high school and once I became intellectually curious about the world, I realized how much I blew it not going to college. If I had a do over, I’d challenge myself to go to Harvard Law School.

The way I explain what we do is that when I was 16, Andrew Reynolds could have told me to do anything in life and I would have done it. What if he told me to go to college?

Once I met [CSEF Founders] Keegan [Guizard] and Neftalie [Williams] I thought we were the perfect team to bring this idea to life.

An outpouring of support from the skate community will hopefully help send hundreds of skateboarders to college through CSEF. Photo: Zane Foley

How does the foundation work – where do funds come from and how do you decide to whom they get allocated?

Keegan: CSEF gathers donations from independent donors online and through personal relationships of our team and our supporters. We also organize regional fundraising events to raise awareness for and get people excited about what the foundation is doing.

Our scholarship recipients will reflect the skateboarder that will move our world of skateboarding forward while keeping it true to its spirit. Those that have a passion for skateboarding and a lust for knowledge and progression in their other endeavors are those that will be awarded CSEF’s scholarships.

A patron of the arts at CSEF’s gathering in Los Angeles. Photo: Zane Foley

Do you have a goal for the foundation over the course of the next year, such as a number of students you’d like to fund, etc.?

Keegan: We’re currently fundraising for scholarships being given to students for their 2018-19 school year. Our goal is to make the cost of higher education significantly less of an obstacle for dozens of skateboarders. Further into the future, hopefully we will be assisting in sending hundreds of skaters to school.

Where do you see the future of skateboarding and its community headed?

Thomas:I think we have the most diverse skate community ever at the moment. The streets are firing but also the contest side of things with the Olympics, the fashion side of things with Supreme, women’s skateboarding, unique skateboarding, everything seems to be the best it’s ever been.

With that, I think skateboarding will continue to move in a positive direction but we need to always keep our rebellious attitude so we are changing the world, the world isn’t changing us. Rebellious doesn’t mean stupid and that is CSEF.

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