Meet Our Founder
Randall J. Trice Founder of Shoes4Grades
As a young child growing up in poverty, my goal was only to survive; survive in the streets that catered to my mother’s addictions; survive in the neighborhood that built you strong enough to threaten anyone who dissed you; survive in a system that breaks your spirit and reminds you that dreaming of opportunity is a fool’s game. I was born into a system that manifests failure, questions my existence, and implies that success is short-lived for people like me, if it comes at all. Succeeding was never my goal; preparing for a possible opportunity was.
At age nine, when his younger brother was born addicted to crack cocaine, Randall entered the foster care system. He lived with seven other children in the care of an overwhelmed grandmother. He was burdened by the stigma that emanates from the label “foster” and was bullied for wearing hand-me-down clothing and shoes that were cast off by older boys in the home.
Randall struggled to find the motivation to do well academically until he found High School sports, which were his escape and his motivator; they were always a way to funnel his emotions and keep him from getting into trouble. If he wanted to continue to play sports, he needed to get good grades, so he began attending after-school programs to improve his reading skills and other areas of academics. He started taking school more seriously; he had enough self-awareness to know that if he wanted his life to be different, he needed to start thinking differently, and he was determined to prove those who doubted him wrong.
By pressing forward and barricading himself against all the negativity blocking his way, Randall learned how to cope with the things over which he had no control. He used the pain of being bullied as a form of character building; he learned that he could change himself, and that with proper motivation, poor reading skills could be overcome — that with the right motivation, a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree were within his reach.
In 2020, Randall obtained his master’s degree in Social Work from Azusa Pacific University. He is currently employed at an agency that provides mental health services to the homeless population in Los Angeles County. He continues to stress that all things are possible if you believe you are worth more than what society deems you to be.
“I want kids who are growing up in foster care to know that this is not the end. Being in foster care is a small part of an even greater testimony. It takes strength to withstand the storms that come with growing up in the system. We often overlook the privileges we are blessed with; I am here to show you that with self-determination and belief in yourself, there is no limit to what you can achieve. Dream big and trust in the process.”
Randall believes that youth will discover that high academic achievements are reachable, and that their self-esteem will increase when they put forth the effort inside the classroom. Shoes4Grades encourages youth to strive for more than just the light at the end of the tunnel; the light that many of them don’t even know exists.