Messy Jessie's Bicycle Academy is a bicycle education facility dedicated to helping the San Diego community by teaching life skills and bicycle repair skills to youth and providing bicycles to those in need
My name is Jessica Stephens. I've been working in the bicycle industry for the past fifteen years. I've held the titles of store manager, sales clerk, mechanic and educator. I volunteered with the Recycle Bicycle program in Denver for four years fixing donated bicycles and then giving them to schools and homeless shelters or anyone who contacted us in need of transportation (http://recyclebicycles.net/)
I started my business last year as a small-scale effort to work with bikes in my community. I currently run a bicycle stand at the local farmers markets. I teach basic maintenance classes at local bike shops and make jewelry out of the worn bike parts. It's a great start but in order to do what I know I can, I need a facility that allows me to expand on the work that I am currently doing.
My goal is to offer afterschool programs that teach basic mechanics to middle school and high school aged kids. Like the recycle bicycle program, we'll take donated bikes and assess their needs, fix them and get them out to people in shelters, youth programs and other organizations that could benefit from having them. I plan to keep the classes as close to free as possible. In order to offset the cost of running the school a percentage of the bikes fixed will be sold. The facility will need a small storefront where we sell basic tool kits and accessories that enable people to use their bikes for everyday tasks. We'll publish and print workbooks from which to teach and we'll run early evening classes where we'll teach adults for a fee how to maintain their bikes.
I estimate being able to educate 100-120 kids a month. The Academy would train 20 students at a time and we'd be able to put out 20-30 bikes a week.
What We Need & What You Get
The funding I'm asking for will help me to get things started. $50,000 covers the cost of tools, builds ten benches and underwrites rent, utilities and insurance for six months of operation. It pays for the register, office supplies and replacement parts (cables, housing, tires, chains and saddles). I'll be able to print t-shirts, stickers, water bottles and jerseys. $50,000 gets me off to a great start.
I believe you wouldn't be contributing if you didn't want the majority of your donation going toward this project. We'll be producing items that advertise the school and we'd be proud to dole them out to those who support us! We truly can't say thank you enough!
Two Things To Be Said
If the goal isn't reached, I'll readjust and continue working to realize the dream on a smaller scale. The money would be used to rent space and offer classes where available and to publish workbooks.
If we exceed $50,000, MJ’s Bicycle Academy will launch with an even stronger foundation. I'd be able to pay another mechanic/educator to help with the workload. Living and working in this community for the past two years I've met people willing to volunteer their time. That’s great but as we grow I’ll need a second mechanic/teacher More start up funds would allow me to hire one sooner. The more money raised the greater the chance for success.
The National Center for Education Statistics released figures of a study completed by The Civil Rights Project at Harvard University (CRP) and the Urban Institute in 2004. They concluded that only about 68 percent of all students nationally who enter 9th grade will graduate "on time" with regular diplomas in 12th grade. Programs like this one help to pick up the slack. They provide the next generation with skill sets needed to provide for their future.
I'm not implying that being able to fix a bike is the only thing a young adult will need in life, but that's not all this program will teach. Once a student completes a class, he or she will need to teach to the next round of students in order to move forward with their studies. This school will teach teamwork. Our classes will offer mentors to their peers and build confidence.
Why don't we call ourselves a bike co-op? San Diego has one bike co-op which functions as a non-profit organization. Bike Co-ops or Bike kitchens generally fix the students personal bikes. They answer questions as they arise. What I'm working to build is different. I don't want to skip steps because it's not relevant at the time the question is asked. I want my students to understand which tools go with what parts before they touch the tools. I want a "lab" to teach in. I want to start from what frame materials are and why they are used and build on that. I want our students to walk away with a strong foundation that can be applied to any bike that they might have a need to fix.
Currently no one is doing anything like this. The existing bicycle repair training institutions are designed for adults. Most youth programs work with someone packing a car and showing up at a high school or church with the tools and working from makeshift benches. I want a dedicated space. I want to teach shop etiquette; how working at a clean bench is smart and that it's important to put tools where they belong and why.
This is not only beneficial for the students who complete these classes. This program will have an environmental impact.
The school will be working on donated bicycles. People tend to donate bikes when the repair costs outweigh the cost of a new bike. We’ll help to keep our landfills from filling up with bicycles in need of repairs. The bikes we refurbish will be donated to shelters across San Diego. We can help provide someone with transportation and that's huge. Having a designated space will allow us to open our doors to the community. We can host craft nights, public speaking events, art shows, ride in movie nights and a slew of other community-supported events.
Other Ways You Can Help
In addition to donating, if you like what I'm trying to do, please, tell someone about it. Share on your blogs, facebook, twitter or tell somebody over lunch. I appreciate it all!
Oh and Indiegogo makes it easy. They have cool buttons that allow you to share!
Thanks for your time!
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Bike SD: http://bikesd.org/2013/08/causes/
Brooklyn Cruiser: http://www.brooklyncruiser.com/blog/san-diego/