Youthprise Visits… Cycles For Change!
This month, Youthprise made a visit to Cycles for Change in St. Paul! The mission of Cycles for Change is to build a diverse and empowered community of bicyclists. With two locations in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Cycles for Change works closely with the community to provide access to bicycle education. During our interview at the St. Paul location, Youth Programs Manager, Magdalena Kaluza and Americorps VISTA, Stephanie Schultz described the organization as a community bike shop.
Magdalena explained, “We want to be a safe space for people traditionally excluded from the bike world.” This includes people of marginalized communities including African American, Indigenous, women, LGBTQIA, and young people. She continued, “When you walk into most bike shops as any of those identities, you will not feel welcomed. You might not even be greeted by the staff or the employees there.”
Cycles for Change wants to create safe spaces for everyone. Former youth participant and current Youthprise youth fellow, Adeeb Missaghi said, “I always loved the flexibility of the space. It was really natural to come in and talk to whoever was there.” According to the website, the organization implements a variety of programs to support people in gaining access to a used bicycle, free bicycle repair, training in a safe, confident cycling, and opportunities to help grow a broad-based, equitable bicycling movement.
Programs at the St. Paul Cycles for Change location include Open Shop, Bike Grant, Learn to Ride, Grease Rag: Women, Trans, Femme (WTF) Night, and the Youth Apprenticeship program. The Youth Apprenticeship program works with high school-aged youth. Youth participating in the program learn bike mechanics, support Open Shop programs, and help build equitable bicycling communities through paid positions. The organization hires up to 20 young people each year.
Magdelena said, “A lot of the youth apprentices start off as Right Track or Step Up employees and then have the opportunity through an interview process to stay with us on our payroll.” Youth Apprentices are trained in workforce readiness and are given opportunities throughout the year to take on leadership roles and develop other skills.
“Last summer we had an apprentice that didn’t know how to ride a bike, then she learned,” Stephanie explained. “They’ll roll up to Cycles for Change riding bikes. They’ll tell us, ‘I just went for a ride before work!’”
“They have a bunch of caring adults, which is our staff team, who they can call family. If they have issues at school or issues in their family or issues here at work, there is someone that they can talk to.” Magdelena continued, “A lot of them have said before they started Cycles for Change, they didn’t always use their voice or speak out when they saw something that made them uncomfortable. Their time here has really helped them find a voice and speak up more, which is incredible.”
Photo Credit: Ted Hall Photography
Upcoming Events at Cycles For Change: