Work by Kevin Plank, CEO and founder of the Under Armour sportswear brand, has been very much rooted in personal experience. His product solutions as well public contributions are centered on observations in Plank’s own life and in his place of residence. Plank has built a career out of finding solutions to existing problems.
Kevin Plank is a native of Maryland. He grew up in Kensington and attended the University of Maryland where he played on the university football team. It was there he began his career in entrepreneurialism. The success of Under Armour came from engagement with the athletes and people around him. When Plank decided he needed to find sportswear that could handle dampness and perspiration, especially under heavy football padding, he designed a shirt from material that could wick moisture. The shirt proved effective. He listened closely to input by athletes on his prototypes, improving and adding to the Under Armour product line. Since then, Under Armour, headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, has established itself as a 10-billion dollar sportswear brand.
Plank’s success led to his creation of businesses outside of Under Armour, including the restoration of Baltimore’s formerly prestigious Sagamore Farm racehorse stables and the foundation of Plank Industries, which has overseen the mixed-use renovation of Baltimore’s long-neglected Port Covington and the reopening of the Recreation Pier building as the Sagamore Pendry Hotel.
Plank’s sports background and method of solving problems as he sees them has resulted in Under Armour’s sponsorship of numerous sports foundations and educational and philanthropic programs, a number of them addressing problems and opportunities for improvement he’s found in his own city.
In recognition for its funding of Building Bridges Through Basketball, a program to build community between law enforcement and urban youth, Under Armour was the recipient of the 2019 ESPN Sports Humanitarian Corporate Community Impact Award. Under Armour finds itself in the unique position of having a connection with kids through its brand, something that can open up possibilities for communication.
The Community Impact Award is a feature of ESPN’s #WeWill global campaign built on the concept of the will to progress, which espouses philanthropic efforts. It began after Houston was hit by Hurricane Harvey and seeks to leverage sports as a unifying force for change. As a part of the campaign’s launch, Under Armour provided considerable support to Team Rubicon, a first responders and veterans organization, which acted following the impact of Hurricane Harvey.
The #WeWill campaign invests in four endeavors – service, activity, mentorship and education – and extends to numerous programs, such as the Curry Family Foundation Education Lab in Oakland and Miami’s Lotus House for homeless women and children. Each program benefits from the communication efforts of such athletes as NFL football player Kenny Stills and the NBA’s Stephen Curry.
Under Armour has been, from the outset, the product of community engagement, and it continues to act according to Plank’s work in the Baltimore area. Under Armour has supported numerous local projects. Among them are the Mount College Experience Camp college preparedness program and Project Rampart for public school athletics. UA was also the recipient of national recognition by ESPN for its collaborative renovation of the East Baltimore community center, now known as the UA House, which provides training for the workplace, academic and entrepreneurial programs as well as sporting facilities.
Kevin Plank also takes a personal philanthropic interest in where he lives. He is a direct contributor and creator of both the Cupid Foundation and the Plank Family Foundation.
Through the Plank Family Foundation’s support and engagement, the Turnaround Tuesday employment training program has resulted in hundreds of jobs with an 85% retention rate.
As well, the Cupid Foundation – named for Cupid’s Valentine, Plank’s flower delivery service and first business – brought 40 kids into contact with such maritime businesses as The Maryland Port Authority and Coast Guard Yard. The Cupid Foundation also contributed $1 million to the CollegeBound scholarship and application program. The Foundations’ work also encompassed second-chance job opportunities for the formerly-incarcerated, increasing economic possibilities in the Baltimore area.
Plank has a keen interest in educational and professional development. With a $26 million donation, his college was able to create an academic and athletics complex. $16 million was also received by his high school for programs in academics, athletics and entrepreneurship.
Plank has also been personally active in community business. He is a board member of the Greater Baltimore Committee and the National Football Foundation as well as a trustee for the University of Maryland. The Cupid’s Cup competition for entrepreneurs, a part of the Robert H. Smith School of Business, is a product of Plank’s interest in promoting and carrying on the spirit of entrepreneurship he found in his own business experiences.
Even before Under Armour got its start, Kevin Plank has long been an active and effective part of his environment and community. Under Armour’s establishment as one of the largest sportswear brands in the world has afforded Plank the ability to give back and to directly and effectively contribute to areas of benefit found in his own experiences and in his community.
Follow Kevin Plank on Instagram