Tony Hawk Foundation Supports Skateboarding Research Project

THF will fund a study of skateboarding, schools, and society conducted by acclaimed USC team.

Researchers at the University Of Southern California will study skateboarding, thanks to a grant from the Tony Hawk Foundation.

Vista, CA (July 5, 2018)—After sixteen years of helping create more than 500 skateparks nationwide, the Tony Hawk Foundation is looking to build on its success of serving youth. In order to do so, the organization has awarded a $264,000 research grant to the University Of Southern California’s acclaimed Pullias Center For Higher Education to conduct a study about the youth who use skateparks, and what they may need to advance their education or career choices.

Since 2002, the foundation’s domestic work has been focused on creating public skateparks in low-income communities, where youth can ride safely, develop healthy lifestyles, and have a place to socialize with like-minded individuals. Internationally, THF has supported skateboard programming that brings many of the lessons of skateboarding to youth in challenged regions around the world—helping develop self-esteem, build motivation, and overcome obstacles. This international work has led to ideas about developing a domestic program that addresses needs of young skaters, beyond what they experience at skateparks.

To do so will require a much greater understanding about the skaters. The USC study will be led by Zoë B. Corwin, a research associate professor at the USC Rossier School of Education and faculty member at the Pullias Center. “Skateboarding is so prevalent in our society, yet we know very little about how skate culture intersects with education and career opportunities—especially in low-income and minoritized communities,” said Corwin. “This study is a researcher’s dream, as we’ll be exploring an understudied field using critical and youth-centric lenses with the aim of figuring out how to best support marginalized youth, and to do so in partnership with such a well-respected foundation is very exciting.”

By surveying 1,000 low-income skaters between the ages of 15 and 21 and conducting case studies at five skateparks in distinct regions of the country, the study will identify different types of skateboarder identities, as well as analyze challenges faced and strategies employed by skaters in their educational or career advancement.

“We’re thrilled that the Pullias Center has taken on this work,” said Miki Vuckovich, Executive Director of the Tony Hawk Foundation. “As skateboarding is more broadly acknowledged as a core identity and opportunities continue to develop for these young athletes, it’s time we better understand the benefits and challenges of being a skateboarder.”

Corwin will team up with Neftalie Williams, adjunct professor at USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism; long-term Pullias Center collaborator and skateboard enthusiast, Tattiya Maruco; and evaluators Robert Reichardt and Abby McClelland from Augenblick, Palach & Associates.

Williams’ research uses skateboarding culture as a lens to understand issues of diversity, race, class and gender, and explores how skateboarding can be used as a tool for cultural diplomacy. “This grant from the Tony Hawk Foundation demonstrates their exceptional vision, leadership, and dedication to skateboarding culture and to underserved youth,” said Williams. “We are honored to partner with their organization and look forward to developing strategies which support young people in their future endeavors.”

The research project will run from July 2018 to September 2019.

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Tony Hawk Foundation
A charitable, non-profit organization, the Tony Hawk Foundation was established in 2002 by its namesake, professional skateboarder Tony Hawk. THF promotes and provides advocacy training and funds for high-quality public skateparks in low-income areas throughout the United States that promote healthy, active lifestyles, and to International programs that enrich the lives of youth through skateboarding.

Domestically, the Foundation’s Skatepark Grant program has awarded over $5.8-million to 596 communities in all 50 States. The Foundation focuses on working with local officials and grassroots, community-based organizations that plan to hire designers and contractors with strong experience designing and building skateparks.

The Foundation’s International Program has provided technical support and awarded $150,000 to assist youth through the Skateistan educational programs in Afghanistan, Cambodia, and South Africa (

The Tony Hawk Foundation was established by a gift from Tony Hawk. Its directors raise additional funds through events, industry donations, and continuing contributions from Tony and other entities. For more information, visit the Foundation’s Web site at You can also visit THF on facebook and Instagram @tonyhawkfoundation, and on Twitter @THF.

Pullias Center For Higher Education
The mission of the Pullias Center for Higher Education is to bring a multidisciplinary perspective to better understanding complex social, political, and economic problems. Our work is devoted to the key issues of college access, retention, and accountability for underserved students — and the effectiveness of the K-12 schools, colleges and universities that serve them. Both directly and through our research, the Pullias Center engages with institutional leaders, policymakers, and the community at large to address challenges in ensuring educational and social equity today. The Center is located within the USC Rossier School of Education, one of the world’s premier centers for graduate study in urban education.