Source: Rack Room Shoes CHARLOTTE, N.C., Feb. 13, 2012 - With budgets being cut at schools around the nation, many athletic programs are suffering. Through the "Save the Athletes Challenge," Rack Room Shoes is making a promise to support sports departments and the students that benefit from them.

This winter, four people will win a $15,000 athletic grant to fund their favorite school's program and will also take home a sports video game package.

To enter, individuals must submit a one-minute video or a 300-word essay - accompanied with a photo - online at www.rackroomshoes.com/save-the-athletes, sharing why their school's athletic program needs support. The deadline to enter is Monday, Feb. 27.

After the Feb. 27 deadline, there will be a voting period through March 19 where individuals will be encouraged to vote on their favorite entry. Four winners will be selected from the entries that receive the most votes at the end of the voting period.

"We asked our loyal customers and fans what was important to them, and we heard them loud and clear," said Jan Mauldin, director of marketing for Rack Room Shoes. "By supporting the schools and students in the areas we serve, we're playing a part in strengthening communities. And this is the reason we continue to focus on philanthropic activities each year."

Philanthropic Mission The Save the Athletes Challenge is the first of five major fundraisers that will run throughout the year. Four $15,000 grants will be donated for a variety of school programs during each of Rack Room Shoes' spring, Back to School and holiday events. The shoe retailer will also host its annual Shoes That Fit fundraiser, which provides shoes to children in need. Rack Room Shoes in the Community Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., and with more than 390 stores nationwide, Rack Room Shoes is committed to supporting as many local community events throughout the year. The regional shoe retailer hosts an ongoing Rack Room Gives program, which makes small donations available for charitable organizations that submit a request. These donations go on to help fund local events and fundraisers.

Additionally, through Rack Room Employee Grants, Rack Room Shoes supports the active involvement of its employees. This program recognizes employee contributions and volunteer efforts in non-profit and charitable organizations to support the causes they care about.

For more information, visit Rack Room Shoes' website, Facebook page or follow them on Twitter.

Emily Attwood is Managing Editor of Athletic Business.