Earn-A-Bike is just what it sounds like, instead of giving someone a bike for free, or selling it, you make someone earn the bike. This is particularly effective for teaching youths the value of work and the appreciation of the bicycle. There is no better equity than blood, sweat and tears.
This is a pre-employment training program that young people love and come to voluntarily! Earn-A-Bikers, age 12 and up, each enter into a contract with us, selecting a bike that s/he will rebuild, and agreeing to a "price" to be paid in hours worked at the Center. One fifth of those hours are community service work, the rest are spent studying bicycle safety and mechanics, and repairing the bicycle.
This is an example of corporate redemption. Take some concepts from it, but you shouldn't necessarily copy it. It is just important to mention this and other non-collective programs so you are aware of them.
The Tim Horton's "Earn A Bike" program is a community-oriented sponsorship program where kids between 10 and 14 years of age team up with community partners to help clean up their local streets, parks and schools. Each participant completes 30 hours of community service and is rewarded with their very own Tim Horton's Minelli-Leader mountain bike and Bell helmet courtesy of their local Tim Hortons store owner. The children are selected from organizations such as Big Brothers and Big Sisters by their local police department who also co-ordinate the program and provide supervision while the kids are out doing their part to make their community a cleaner, brighter place to live.
The program's philosophy evolves around teaching kids about teamwork, giving them job skills and building their self-esteem. The "Earn a Bike" program was initiated by the Hamilton-Wentworth Police Service in 1996. Tim Hortons became the title sponsor of the program two years later. Tim Hortons currently sponsors the "Earn a Bike" program in over 70 regions in Ontario.
We partnered with a local after school and summer program called YouthCity to offer our Earn-A-Bike classes. Kids sign up with YouthCity to take several classes besides Earn-A-Bike. This has provided a word of mouth system through a larger count of kids, as a result, we have never had trouble filling the class. We also set up a partnership with a local Powder Coating facility that gives us a bulk rate.
As part of an the YouthCity Apprenticeship Program which deals with high schoolers, we follow the principal of working on other bikes before they get to take theirs home. We also ran the class for elementary and middle school aged children and found that if they could just rebuild a bike -- that effort was good enough to earn the bike. After a day of school, they aren't up for another class, so a fairly loose structure is also appropriate.
The foundation of Blackstone Bicycle Works youth education work is the Earn-a-Bike Program, which allows kids to participate in an active business while earning their way to a bicycle. Starting with flat repair and working up, Woodlawn children, aged 8-18, learn not only how to fix and maintain their own modes of transportation, but how to conduct themselves in a busy bike shop setting. Once a child accumulates 25 hours in the shop, they can pick a bike from our refurbished selection, along with a new helmet and lock. Since 1994, the Earn-a-Bike Program has helped hundreds of Woodlawn children gain bicycle-mobility, practical skills, and self esteem.
In 2011, Blackstone Bicycle Works implemented an apron system whereby participants earn colored aprons indicating five achievement levels—gray, green, red, purple and black. These aprons function much like the colored belts in martial arts, with black signifying mastery. Youths are able to visualize their advancement through the program (from “Rookie” to “Master”), and we are more easily able to direct customers to youths who have gained the requisite skills to assist them. Moreover, those who have achieved purple and black aprons are selected for promotions, such as paid internships and paid externship positions.
The Earn-a-Bike Program is open to all children age 8-18, free of charge.
- Earn-A-Bike Program by Bikes Not Bombs
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- Earn-A-Bike Program by Tim Hortons