Established in 1996, Bike Works is a non-profit organization in Seattle, WA that promotes the bicycle as a vehicle for change to empower youth and build resilient communities. In addition to providing affordable refurbished bikes and repair services through their social enterprise bike shop, Bike Works offers a variety of environmental, educational, and community-building services. Their youth programs range from mechanics, to cycling, to job readiness, to leadership development, with progressive opportunities for paid employment. Adults participate through volunteerism, mechanics classes, and group rides. Furthermore, Bike Works processes over 7,000 bike donations every year for use in their programs, community giveaways, and full-service bike shop. That comes out to about 250,000 pounds of recyclable materials diverted from the waste stream every year!
Bike Works has worked with The Olson Foundation since 2015 to overcome each year’s unique challenges. For an organization that is so hands-on with its community, COVID-19 presented a multitude of issues. Not only was there a restriction on their workshops, educational, and volunteer programs, but their supply chains and administrative resources were also impacted. Despite these challenges, Bike Works was able to keep their shop open with distancing and disinfecting measures in place, developed a webstore, and offered a 50% discount to frontline workers. They also served thousands of youth and adults with online classes; small, masked group rides; and virtual storytelling events during the height of the pandemic. Furthermore, they maintained their free mobile bike repair service, BikeMobile, serving over 1,000 people in low-income "bike desert" neighborhoods.
Outside of COVID-19, Bike Works wanted to expand its program availability, remove barriers to participation, and deepen its relationships with community partners. After receiving a large grant from The Olson Foundation, Bike Works was quick to put their new funding to work. In 2020 alone, they increased access to transportation by giving away over 900 bikes and helmets to community members of all ages, and fulfilling 100% of scholarship requests for their programs. They also created a new leadership cohort for youth who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, and expanded their youth apprenticeship program to include every department in the organization. For over 26 years, Bike Works has been providing vital services to the Seattle community, promoting the bicycle as a vehicle for liberation, freedom, racial equity, environmental stewardship, and public health. We are proud to partner with Bike Works on these efforts.
“The Olson Foundation’s ongoing support for Bike Works has made our community stronger by providing free and sliding-scale access to bicycles, repair, mechanics classes, and riding opportunities for youth and adults in South Seattle. The Olson Foundation’s trust and generosity give us the confidence to think boldly about our future together, led by the experience of our community.”