Collaboration Brings New Bikes To Bay Area Youth

Gavin-Steve-G-Riley-and-Rane-300x200Every kid deserves a bike.

That was the underlying driver behind an innovative collaboration between two DPR Foundation-supported organizations in the Bay Area, 7 Tepees and Turning Wheels for Kids (TWFK). The result was an event March 22, 2014, that benefited nearly 20 youngsters, each of whom received a bike, helmet and lock as well as bike safety training.

A dozen DPR volunteers along with volunteers from the two charities and from Google (who work with the youth as mentors) turned out to support and run the event held at the 7 Tepees learning center in San Francisco’s Mission District.

The project was the brainchild of DPR’s 7 Tepees liaison, Steven Grandin, who says the idea came to him one day sitting at work. Knowing the excellent work San Jose-based TWFK does each year providing new bikes to underprivileged children in the Bay Area, Grandin wondered whether the youth they support in the 7 Tepees program could also benefit.

He picked up the phone and called DPR’s TWFK liaison, Phil Bartkowski, to see if it was possible.

Happy-bike-owners-300x200“Phil just jumped on it,” Grandin says. “Within 24 hours we were well on our way to making it happen.”

Ultimately, 19 middle and high school youth turned out for the daylong program which included each participant learning to build their own bike, bike safety training with the San Francisco Biking Coalition and a group ride. “It was really important to have the kids participate in the process,” Grandin says. “We don’t just hand things to them, in anything we do with them.”

For most of the youth from 7 Tepees, the bike they received was their first. Some had never even ridden a bike before and were taught how to ride that day, Grandin says.

Ultimately, 19 middle and high school youth turned out for the daylong program which included each participant learning to build their own bike, bike safety training with the San Francisco Biking Coalition and a group ride. “It was really important to have the kids participate in the process,” Grandin says. “We don’t just hand things to them, in anything we do with them.”

For most of the youth from 7 Tepees, the bike they received was their first. Some had never even ridden a bike before and were taught how to ride that day, Grandin says.

Bike-safety-course-300x200The event was a homerun in a number of ways, he says. For one, it set a precedent for DPR Foundation-supported groups working together to maximize the benefits. “I think the synergy and the coordination between two of our supported organizations is really a milestone for us.”

In addition, the partnership will allow TWFK to collect information over time on how the youth are using the bikes. “We’ll check in quarterly and see how they are using the bikes, if they still have them, and how the bikes have impacted their lives,” Grandin says. “Being able to follow the metrics is extremely valuable and important.”

All in all, the day was a win-win for everyone involved, Grandin notes. “Everybody had a great time, and it was just a hugely successful event. The smiles on the kids’ faces really made it for me!”

And the single most memorable highlight of the day for him? In a word, Mario.

“Mario is a little boy whose smile just goes from ear to ear,” Grandin says. “The (7 Tepees) staff said they had never seen him so engaged in anything that they had done before. He’s a little shy, but by the end of the day he was leading the pack and just a fireball. It really was just amazingly rewarding.”

About DPR Foundation
Seven Tepees and Turning Wheels for Kids are two of the 15 youth organizations nationally awarded $900,000 in grants by the DPR Foundation in December 2013. Over the past six years, the Foundation has awarded more than $3.2 million to 22 different organizations focused on providing community support to grade school and high school-aged children.

About 7 Tepees Youth Program
Seven Tepees Youth Program is dedicated to impacting the lives of promising inner-city youth, fostering the skills they need to make lifelong positive choices and to create their own opportunities for success. The program targets inner city youth and works with them for a period of seven years, providing them with the building blocks that will help them create positive, successful futures. Youth are encouraged in social competency, academic skills, healthy self-esteem, exposure to new options, and increased understanding and appreciation of their natural environment.

About Turning Wheels for Kids (TWFK)
Founded in 2003, Turning Wheels for Kids (TWFK) is a dynamic program that provides new bicycles for underprivileged children in the local community. The goal of TWFK is to entice children back outdoors, away from TV, computers and snacking, and reintroduce outdoor activity and play. Additionally, TWFK strives to provide a bit of joy to children from low-income families, who are all too familiar with the pressures of living in an environment of uncertainty and often chaos. Each year TWFK works diligently to collect funds, purchase and assemble bikes and then distribute them to worthy, established children’s charities for their holiday giving programs.


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