Pedal the final miles with us to our 2021 year end goal!
The Ripple Effect
"It all started when my brother lent me a bike. One day I broke the handlebars while out riding." It was 2015 and Andre was a freshman at Dunbar High School in D.C.'s Ward 5. His two older brothers were coming to Gearin' Up to learn more about bikes and work in the shop. With no way to ride, Andre came to Gearin' Up's Youth Night one Thursday evening with the goal of leaving the shop with a working bicycle.
Andre found a sense of community and both adult and youth mentors at the shop. He began volunteering his sophomore year of high school. "I did about 100 community service hours. I learned flat fixes, and learned the basics of doing tune ups. I am a hands-on learner." After completion of his service hours, Andre knew enough about bicycles, customer service and how to work in a bike shop to get hired as a youth mechanic at Gearin' Up.
While employed by Gearin' Up, Andre became a mentor at Youth Nights. Elementary and middle school youth were drawn to Andre's unassuming, kind demeanor, and it was not uncommon to see a pack of kids following Andre around the shop, asking him questions about bikes.
In April 2021, Andre was officially hired by Conte's, a local D.C. for-profit bike shop. In a typical day, Andre repairs high end bicycles with complicated setups, interacts with customers from all walks of life, and works with a team of 6 staff members.
DaiQuan, Gearin' Up's Shop Manager and program graduate, was one of Andre's youth mentors. Only two years older, DaiQuan took Andre under his wing and made sure he progressed in the program. When we asked DaiQuan about Andre's progress, he said, "[Andre] has really gotten better at working with customers and overcoming frustrations when a bike is hard to fix. He went from being a novice youth volunteer to coming through the whole job program to becoming one of the lead mechanics, and now he is in a for-profit shop."
When we asked Andre what his favorite part about Gearin' Up, he immediately said the youth: "[They] bring great energy when they see something they've never seen before. They always just wanted to have fun."
Gearin' Up empowers youth not only to become confident cyclists and professionals, but also strong mentors for those who will follow in their footsteps and community leaders in the DC cycling scene and beyond. By investing in youth like Andre, we cause a ripple effect of positive energy and change that has impacted countless youth and will continue to as Gearin' Up continues its mission.
When you make a gift to Gearin' Up, you invest not only in our current trainees, but in the countless youth whose lives will be changed for the better by Gearin' Up graduates like Andre.
In 2022, Gearin' Up plans to engage 150 high school youth in the shop and through outreach clinics, assist 4,000 underserved residents at our new location on Rhode Island Ave, partner with high schools in Wards 4-8 to host bicycle repair clinics and recruit more youth for our workforce development program. Help transform DC's youth bicycle community with a gift right now. We can't reach our goal without you.