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MiiR exists to empower people for a better future. Our mission is made possible in part because of the extraordinary work of our nonprofit partners.
While we have always been – and will continue to be – a global business, we turned inward and deeply reflected on how we can best serve our immediate Seattle community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In those moments, we learned about a local nonprofit and immediately recognized alignment, resonating with their work at the intersection of community and environment.
Bike Works, who works down the road from our Seattle headquarters, has worked to educate and empower youth while making bicycling accessible and affordable to the Seattle community since 1996. Their vision is to mobilize people to build thriving communities while stewarding a healthy planet.
Alongside their community-building and environmentally-conscious programming, we've been humbled to learn from Bike Works as they have fostered more racial equity in the Seattle community. Through their ability to lead by example, we could not be more proud to announce our newest nonprofit partner, Bike Works.
Bike Works’ mission is to promote the bicycle as a vehicle for change to empower youth and build resilient communities. They work to make the emotional and physical benefits of bicycling accessible and affordable, with a focus on those most impacted by systemic racism and inequality in Southeast Seattle.
Bike Works is dedicated to the vision of a just world where young people are empowered to live active, healthy lifestyles while contributing to the health of our communities and our planet. 2021 marks 25 years of providing educational, recreational, environmental, and transportation services to the community. They are implementing their next 5-year Strategic Plan, which centers racial equity, focuses on youth leadership, and deeply engages community.
Bike Works is the only organization providing cycling services in Southeast Seattle; the next for-profit shop south of Bike Works is almost 10 miles away.
Bike Works' programs include:
1) An experiential suite of youth bike mechanics and riding classes, clubs, and camps, with progressive opportunities for leadership, mentorship, and paid apprenticeships as youth progress:
- “Earn-A-Bike” Repair Classes: Youth earn community service hours as they learn how to fix and build bikes that they give away to another youth in the community with financial need. In addition to working on the donated bike project, youth can pick out and fix up a bike for themselves. Youth who complete EAB are eligible for weekly “drop-in” community service hours where they fix up bikes for our bike giveaway program.
- Bike Riding Clubs and Camps: After-school and summer bike riding clubs and camps give youth access to mountain biking, cyclocross, BMX bikes, road biking, and self-supported bike touring. As of 2020, they also have a “Justice Journeys” riding club, where youth visit cultural sites around Seattle such as the Duwamish Longhouse and Northwest African American History Museum, and have facilitated discussions on social justice and identity.
- Bicycle Leaders: young leaders are offered opportunities to facilitate conversations and inform decision-making at Bike Works, volunteer and speak at Bike Works events, serve as peer mentors and instructors in Bike Works programs, and represent Seattle at the National Youth Bicycle Summit.
- Job Skills Training (JST): Young people learn bike mechanics and softer job skills to prepare them for future employment. JST participants are compensated for their time and eligible for paid apprenticeships upon completion
2) Adult bike mechanics classes and bike repair volunteer opportunities
3) Bikes-for-All! (BfA), which is a bike giveaway program that provides free bikes and helmets to community members with financial need. Bike Works takes applications from individuals as well as partnering with BIPOC-led organizations in our region
4) The Recycle & Reuse initiative processes 6,000 to 8,000 used bicycles annually for use in programs / giveaways, for sale in their social enterprise bike shop, and for re-donation to small cycling programs in the Pacific Northwest
5) The BikeMobile, Bike Works' mobile bike shop, travels to different parks, community centers, low-income housing sites, and partner organizations throughout the spring and summer to provide free bike repair in neighborhoods without bike shops and high rates of poverty
6) Community events such as the “Bicycle Stories” speaker series features a diverse range of experts to give free presentations on systemic and personal topics
In partnership with Recology King County:
Bike Works' partnership with Recology King County, a waste removal company, is also crucial to the broad reach of their Recycle & Reuse (R&R) efforts. In fact, up to 80% of the bikes donated to Bike Works in any given year come through this partnership. Donors can bring their used bikes, parts, and accessories to the transfer stations in around Seattle, and those donations are routed to the local Recology processing facility where Bike Works' R&R team picks up donations twice per week.
Every year, Bike Works is proud to collaborate with over 100 schools, community centers, libraries, health centers, businesses, and a range of other nonprofits throughout Southeast Seattle to provide bike ridership, ownership, and leadership programming. Partners like Byrd Barr Place, Seattle Housing Authority, Seattle Girls School, and Queer the Land help Bike Works reach youth experiencing poverty, youth of color, youth at risk of substance abuse, and youth underserved by, or not attracted to, traditional sports or other after-school activities.
An example of the many partnerships Bike Works fosters to support youth in the community are their "past free helmet" giveaway events with Seattle Children’s Hospital. Children’s has a goal to give away helmets to promote health and safety with youth every year, and Bike Works has the community connections to reach young cyclists in need of helmets.
Out of commitment to investing in leaders, movers, and shakers who know their community best, we gave Bike Works a non-restricted grant, which leaves the use of the funds up to the beneficiary. Our granting program is structured like this because we trust that our nonprofit partners are the experts in their field; however most appropriate or necessary, they are empowered to use these funds.
The majority of this grant will go towards general operating funds – with these funds, Bike Works is in the process of purchasing bikes, locks, lights, and helmet for 200 youth and adults!
Our non-restricted grant allows Bike Works to deploy funds to the areas of their work –– from programming, to operating costs, to purchasing tools and gear –– at their discretion. We believe that the best way to empower our community is to have trusted leaders do what they do best: lead.
Bike Works' focus for 2021 is to deepen their impact in Southeast Seattle with young people from low-income households and communities of color while providing cross-class, multi-racial, gender inclusive spaces.
Their goals this year include:
1) Empower more than 1,170 young people through programming that integrates hands-on skill-building, physical activity, outdoor exploration, community service, environmental education, and leadership
2) Collect over 7,000 unwanted bikes, preventing them from entering the waste stream and putting them to higher use
3) Meet 100% of scholarship needs
4) Give away at least 600 bikes to young people from low-income households
5) Repair at least 500 youth bikes for free with our mobile bike repair service, the BikeMobile
6) Implement social justice learning and dialogue as a feature of all of our youth programs in order to foster a youth community where the connections between cycling and social justice are investigated and understood
Moreover, as an organization that continues to both reside in and focus their work with communities in Southeast Seattle, Bike Works believe it is essential to move beyond conversations about racism to taking anti-racist actions that will promote equity within our organization and community at large. Earlier this year, they rolled out our new 5-year Strategic Plan, drafted by Bike Works staff and board, with facilitation from Beloved Community and input from our youth leaders and Racial Equity Task Force.
The plan centers racial equity as a guiding ethos and has four primary focus areas:
1) Job Access: providing more employment opportunities and job access programming for those not traditionally represented in the cycling industry, including individuals who identify as BIPOC, WTNB, and Southeast Seattle residents
2) Community Engagement: engaging our neighbors and partner organizations to share our resources and build stronger communities
3) Bike Works Culture: promoting intersectional equity by actively cultivating an internal culture of transparency, curiosity, innovation, learning, community, and abundance
4) Space: examining our space and facility needs through a racial equity lens so we can better serve the community. Our goal is to share our physical space as a venue for community-based gatherings, learning, activism, recreation, and dialogue