Adventurous Bikers Go Through The Works so City Youth Can Earn-a-Bike

On June 1, bikers will meet at Race Street Pier to begin a wild race through the city to benefit Neighborhood Bike Works, a non-profit which uses bikes to empower and support urban youth in underserved neighborhoods.

The race is called The Works: Volume III and is a hoagie-themed alleycat style bike race followed by an after party at the Beaumont Warehouse in West Philly. Alleycats are informal races which include checkpoints all over the city. Bikers can choose their own adventure either by racing to find the fastest possible route between all checkpoints, or by collecting points by performing fun activities at checkpoints. Meant for cyclists of all types, there are all sorts of prizes to be awarded from local shops such as Bells Bike Shop, Bicycle Therapy, Firehouse Bikes, Trophy Bikes, other Philadelphia bike shops and notable local sponsors including Wawa, Peanut Chews, La Colombe Coffee, and Pizza Brain. For the last two editions of the race, The Works has gotten a reputation for being fun, exciting, and a great way to explore the city by bike.

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Neighborhood Assist program offering Philly nonprofits a grant to effect change in their community

Last year, Neighborhood Bike Works received a grant from State Farm that went to developing their youth programs. | Photo via neighborhoodbikeworks.orgIn an inventive effort to discover just where and how their customers want their company to lend philanthropic support, last year State Farm Insurance launched the community outreach initiative, “Cause An Effect.” The program asked community groups to propose an idea for bettering their neighborhood then, apply for a $25,000 to make it happen. If State Farm’s Youth Advisory Board chose the idea as one of the top 200, the group was then responsible for rallying to get the most “votes” possible via social media. The top 40 received grants.

The program was so successful that it’s back this year as the “Neighborhood Assist” program. “Our focus is on effecting change in the community through direct engagement, eliminating the barrier of turfs and neighborhoods and bringing resources together,” says Dave Phillips, the regional State Farm spokesman. As was seen last year, even the groups that didn’t win the challenge were able to seize the opportunity to make their causes known.

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Neighborhood Bike Works

Founded in 1966 as a program of the Bicycle Coalition, Neighborhood Bike Works is now the leading nonprofit educational organization for empowering Philadelphia youth in underserved neighborhoods through bicycling. Their flagship program, Earn-A-Bike, teaches youth basic bike repair and maintenance skills, safe urban riding practices, and lessons on health and nutrition, all while refurbishing a bike they get to keep. Along with their extensive youth programs, Bike Works leads community service projects, an annual Bike Part Art Show, and supports in the Bike Church, an Adult Bike Repair Co-Op.

For more information, visit neighborhoodbikeworks.org.

Cause An Effect: Philadelphia organizations win State Farm grants

Michael Froehlich of the West Philly Tool Library| Image via westphillytools.orgMichael Froehlich never thought his proposal would get so many Facebook hits.

But by the end of State Farm’s Cause An Effect competition, Froehlich and the West Philly Tool Library, an organization that loans home maintenance tools out to local residents, had amassed a whopping 22,000 votes in support of their cause.

The West Philly Tool Library, along with Neighborhood Bike Works in north Philadelphia, were two of the lucky organizations chosen to win grants from State Farm’s Cause An Effect competition.

The contest received 3,000 applications from do-gooders around the country seeking to make a difference in their communities through safety, education or development initiatives. Of those applicants, 100 finalists where selected to compete online for the most Facebook votes. 

“I did not think we would get so many votes,” says Froehlich, who garnered enough support to receive one of State Farm’s 40 grants. “It was a big surprise.”

Even more surprising than the votes was the prize.

Each of the winners received $25,000 to help expand and continue their operations in the community.

Neighborhood Bike Works will utilize the grant money to expand its Earn-A-Bike program to 60 kids. The Earn-A-Bike teaches classes in bicycle maintenance and saftey while providing kids with their very own bikes.

The Tool Library will also be looking to expand its services with the grant money.

“We are really really excited about this,” says Froehlich. “Our current annual budget is $15,000. This almost doubles that. It’s a potential game changer.”

With this extra influx of funds, the West Philly Tool Library is already working on several plans to better serve the neighborhood. These include expanding their summer hours, hiring a tool mechanic to keep the equipment in quality condition, and buying lots of additional tools.

“As many of our members know, you could come to the library for a weed-wacker and we might be all out of them that day,” says Froehlich. “With this new equipment we want to pretty much guarantee that there will always be tools in stock.”

For information about the West Philly Tool Library, visit their website. To apply for their open tool mechanic position, e-mail a cover letter and resume to Michael Froehlich at michael@westphillytools.org.

For more on Neighborhood Bike Works and their iniatives, visit their website.

NBW Goes to Washington

Last summer marked the first ever Ride of Dreams, a 240-mile bike ride from West Philadelphia to the state capital in Harrisburg and back to raise funds for Neighborhood Bike Works (NBW), the Philly-based nonprofit that teaches urban youth the benefits and joy of cycling. This year, NBW will ride from Pennsylvania to Pennsylvania Avenue; the second annual ride will commence on July 22, kicking off at NBW’s headquarters and rolling down to Washington, D.C., where riders will celebrate their successful journey on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building on July 24.

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Bikes: Along for the Ride with Andy Dyson

In a new column, Julie Lorch pedals along with notable members of Philly's bicycle community on a route of their choice. They ride, they chat, she reports back.

I met Andy Dyson at St. Mary’s Church, Neighborhood Bike Works’ (NBW)  headquarters at 3916 Locust Walk. Director of the organization since 2002, Dyson spends his days surrounded by broken bikes and people who want to fix them.

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