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Pro Bono Stories

Our partnership with Skateistan


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All children deserve opportunities to play, learn, grow and express themselves in safe spaces with trustworthy adults. After many years of working in Afghanistan, South Africa and Cambodia, Skateistan knows how to provide such opportunities with programs that make a real difference in the lives of children around the world.

Founded in Kabul in 2008, Skateistan is an award-winning international development organization with the mission of empowering children through skateboarding and education. Skateistan's programs are geared toward children, especially girls, aged five to 17 from low-income backgrounds and children living with disabilities. The programs focus on education, gender equality, health, peace, security and youth leadership and provide children in vulnerable communities with a safe place to learn and play, free from discrimination and violence.

Skateistan contacted Blakes for help obtaining charitable status in Canada so that it could issue official donation receipts to Canadian donors. Blakes has assisted by advising Skateistan on Canada's charity framework and preparing the organization’s application for charitable status.

“When Skateistan reached out to Blakes, we were immediately on board,” says Dan Jankovic, a Partner in our Calgary office. Dan says he was thrilled to work with an organization whose education and empowerment of children in vulnerable communities aligns with Blakes values. Skateistan's programs provide a safe space for learning, self-expression and community in corners of the world where young people, particularly girls, face additional hurdles to accessing such opportunities.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have played a part in Skateistan’s ongoing global expansion so that more youth around the world can feel empowered and gain confidence through the art of skateboarding and education,” explains Bharbara Parken, an Associate in the Blakes Capital Markets group.

In August 2021, Skateistan suspended its programs in Afghanistan due to political turmoil. Skateistan coordinated the evacuation of staff and volunteers from local skate schools. While the future of Skateistan’s programs in Afghanistan is uncertain, the organization remains committed to its community and the children who accessed its programs. Skateistan is looking forward and planning next steps, including expanding its programming to new locations around the world such as Jordan, Bolivia and Kenya, relying on donations from those who believe in its mission.

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