Mission: Community bike works teaches life lessons through bike mechanics. We offer inner-city youth meaningful work-ethic alternatives. We use bicycles and peer and adult mentors to engage youth, and once engaged, influence their behavior and outlook about school and life.
Programs: Earn-a-bike program: in our flagship earn-a-bike program, boys and girls ages 9-17 team up with adult mentors for a 12-week course in bike mechanics and safety. While working on their bikes, students learn teamwork, perseverance, and other work skills. Once students graduate earn-a-bike, they earn their refurbished bike and new helmet! This year, we also introduced the junior earn-a-bike program to introduce younger students to working with mentors. In total, 362 students participated in earn-a-bike and junior earn-a-bike during 2014-2015; 78% graduated. 2015 marks the 20th anniversary of the earn-a-bike program! Since 1995, 3,500 youths have participated in earn-a-bike.
peer volunteers & youth apprentices: students who graduate from earn-a-bike may continue to improve their mechanic skills while giving back to their peers by becoming youth volunteers, and, ultimately, paid youth apprentices. Volunteers and apprentices serve as earn-a-bike instructors and participate in leadership activities. Thirteen students were youth volunteers in 2014-2015, and two served as paid apprentices. In the words of youth apprentice kyle: "community bike works is more than learning how bikes work. It's learning how life works. "
afterschool drop-in and earn a book: earn-a-bike students and graduates can visit community bike works on weekday afternoons to participate in a range of enrichment activities. At drop-in, students work on bikes or participate in directed activities. In "earn a book", students spend one-on-one time with college tutors and participate in group and individual reading and other activities designed to foster enthusiasm for and increased competence in reading. In 2014-2015, students visited community bike works 5,550 times and spent approximately 11,000 hours with mentors.
I became involved with CBW after meeting some students and a board member at a community event. I was very impressed with the poise and knowledge of the youth and immediately thought it was a very engaging and effective program for at-risk young people in center-city. I wish there were more programs like this -- the curriculum and mentoring relationships would be beneficial to all, but especially to those kids who need positive role models, unconditional regard, and respectful friendships.
I first volunteered at CBW in 1999. I only needed to participate in one Earn-a-Bike Session and I was hooked! Over the years, I've been a volunteer and Board Member. I am currently the Chair of the Board. CBW is about Kids, not bikes. That is the fundamental principal in which we follow, and is why we have been successful. Despite having volunteered with Bike Works for so long, I continue to be amazed at how many kids we minister to, despite a very small budget. The ED and staff do a great job managing the programs and relationships within the community. They continue to be innovative and adapt to the changing needs/opportunities of our clients. My first hand experience is that our kids love this program and get so much more out of it than a bike and a helmet. That's what keeps me coming back year after year!