Detroit Eastside Community Collaborative (DECC), Earn-A-Bike Program had tremendous growth in 2014, increasing its participation by almost 250%. Funding from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan (CFSEM) allowed us to build our capacity by securing enough equipment and supplies to establish 18 work stations and conduct up to three classes simultaneously. It also help us to enhance the most significant differences in our program. We take the class to the students. Instead of working out of a stationary shop, we have a mobile system where we can transform just about any room into a bicycle workshop.
Funding from the CFSEM provided DECC the opportunity to expand our Earn-a-Bike Program from 30 participants in 2013 to 147 participants in 2014. The program ran from March through August, working with partners at five East Detroit locations, Butzel Family Center, Village at Parkside (Friends), Marion Law Academy, The Martix Center and Mt. Elliott Makerspace. We conducted 13 classes ranging from 7 to 14 days, 2.5 to 3.5 hours per day, averaging 10 students per class. Students ages ranges from 8 to 18 years of ages.
One of the key partners of the program is Back Alley Bikes. They trained and provided instructors and prepared bikes for class. One of the secrets of our success is bike preparation. Student work on bikes that have been donated to DECC or Back Alley Bikes. However there are thousands of different bike configurations. DECC pays Back Alley Bikes a fee for carefully selecting bikes that have similar components, like, brakes systems, tire size, bottom bracket, and gears. The bikes are disassembled and prepared for the class. This way class instruction is like putting together a puzzle where everyone has the same pieces. Making it easier for instructors to keep students on the same page as they move through the lesson.
Participants learned to repair and maintain bicycles, including how to tune-up and troubleshoot problems with flat tires, spokes, gears, chains, brakes and handle bars. We were successful in teaching youth a useful skill, building self-esteem, highlighting their accomplishments, increasing knowledge about bike safety and greenways, and helping them discover the hidden value in refurbishing used bikes. In addition to bike repair skills students learned how to ride safely on the street. This gave them the opportunity to road test their bikes and practice bike safety riding skills learned in class; such as, how to use hand signals for stopping, left and right turns, how to ride with the direction of traffic, and how to follow street signs and bike lane marking on the road.
All students were given pre and post exams designed to measures how much they learned during the course. On average student scores increased from a range of 45%-60% to 60%- 95%. However students showed more knowledge of the material during their hands on work in the class room. Students were also responsible for providing a community service activity. The students at the Butzel Family Center helped with Butzel’s annual Youth Jamboree by helping to inspect bicycles that were given away at the program. Students from Parkside and Law conducted a community pop-up bicycle inspection station in their neighborhood, student from the Matrix Center participated in their Osborn neighborhood parade and the students a Mt. Elliott Makerspace help youth in their neighborhood fix bikes as part of their program.
On completion of the class each student received the bike they repaired in class, a helmet, lock and official Earn-A-Bike t-shirt. Earn-A-Bike staff produced an eight and fifteen minute video. The video highlights the program and includes testimonials from partner organizations and students.