Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bikes!!!!

Last Wednesday and Thursday, dozens of our students cruised out of our last night of tutoring in style, with their very own bikes, locks and helmets. In an effort to get our students more engaged in our various enrichment curricula and to help us determine the impact of our program on our students' academic performance, we offered to give a free bike to each and every student who earned more than 400 points last quarter. Students earn points through their attendence at our weekly tutoring sessions and attending our clubs, which meet 3 nights a week: Art club on Monday, Tech club on Tuesday and Writing club on Wednesday. Students also receive points every time they enter data in our "Student and Volunteer History and Tracking System" (more popularly known as SVHATS) which helps EL Da'Sheon and I to keep tabs on all of our mentor/mentee matches. Most importantly, students also earn points for bringing their report cards to tutoring and earn additional points for every A, B and C on their report cards. One of the primary goals of this bike promotion was to get more data about our students' grades so we can determine the impact that their involvement in our program has had on their academic performance.

We received donated bikes from two non-profit bike cooperatives, Evanston's "Recyclery" and The Working Bikes Cooperative. Both organizations utilize volunteer bike mechanics to assemble bikes from spare and discarded parts. They then donate large quantities of these bikes to organizations in countries with high rates of poverty, such as Angola, Guatemala and Cuba, that use the bikes to empower local communities. Some of their bikes make it to local organziations such as Cabrini Connections and we are very thankful for the generosity of both organizations. In addition to donating a large number of bikes, Working Bikes also donated a dozen or so helmets to ensure our kids keep their brains safe while riding their new bikes! Through some independent fundraising, I have been able to secure some donations for additional helmets and locks so that every kid received a lock, however, any additional financial contributions would be much appreciated to help offset the cost of these pricy (but essential) accessories.

So, I just wanted to take this opportunity to sincerely thank Sharlyn at The Recyclery and Raul at Working Bikes for all the time and effort they spent ensuring that our kids received the quality bikes that they deserve for all their hard work and dedication to our program and their own futures. Thanks again!

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