Are Bikes a Way to Boost Youth? This Funder is Betting the Answer is Yes

The M.J. Murdoch Charitable Trust recently gave a nice chunk of change to Bike Works in Seattle, seeing its work in youth development and physical education as a strong combination for helping young people to build practical skills and get active all at the same time.

The Murdoch Trust's primary funding area is the Pacific NorthwestAlaska, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Oregon. It also does some granting nationally.

The trust funds all sorts of projects in the areas of health, education, arts and science. It seems to be particularly interested in "enrichment" for youth—that is, inventive ways to get youth involved in the community and learning. The $100,000 grant for Bike Works is for the purpose of "youth development"—adding a new staffer to the organization who will work specifically to get more youth involved in their programs.

That Bike Works was chosen for a grant is not surprising given that its programs look quite innovative and enriching. They include Earn-a-Bike—where students take classes in bike maintenance and repair, thus earning credits toward a free bike—and UGottaGetABike, which goes to low-income schools and teaches bike safety, culminating in providing free helmets and free refurbished bikes. Bike Works also runs a bike-riding club for youth called RIDES, an 8-week course during which they bike different courses and explore the community. In June, it had a Bike-0-Rama, in which 88 kids got refurbished bikes and helmets. 

But Bike Works goes further. It also runs a community bike shop, providing both employment and a needed service to the public. With all this going on, it makes sense that Bike Works was recently rated one of the best bike shops in the country, a title that rates the shops not only on their shopping experiences, but also on their support for the community and advocacy for biking nationally and locally.

So it looks like Murdoch Charitable Trust has picked a winner on the community bicycling scene.