The Evanston Bicycle Club grants program has awarded funds raised at the North Shore Century to bike-related projects and activities at local non-profit organizations for several years. Some bicycle organizations, like the League of American Bicyclists, Bike Illinois, and Active Transportation Alliance have received a donation for several years and others such as Evanston Streets Alive, Blackstone Bicycle Works, and Recyclery Collective have applied for and received grants for several years.
In all, 20 organizations received funds in 2017. This year we invited three first time grant recipients to share information about their inspiring programs and how they are using the funds from the grant program on cycling related projects.
Bikes N’ Roses/Communities United, launched a cycling advocacy and educational campaign called Rose Pedals, that caters to women, people of color and refuges in the Albany Park neighborhood. David Pohlad and two Bikes N ‘Roses youth, Erin and Janella, described the free classes of art projects, using welding, soldering, and jewelry making with old bike chains, open shop nights, route planning, group rides, and the programs to get youth involved in government, decision making and social activism. They also have recruited adults through group rides to serve as mentors to the youth. Their programs are designed to build confidence and independence in the youth of Albany Park.
The Chicago Jesuit Academy is a 3-8th grade educational organization for young men in Austin, located at Jackson Blvd. and Larrabee Ave. Rebecca Centioli explained that the student’s day is from 7:30am to 5:00 pm so they have the option to sign up for co-curricular programs. The EBC grant was used to purchase single speed bicycles and start a Bike Club where students have the opportunity to learn the components of a bike, basic maintenance, safety skills, rules of the road, and go on group rides. There is a lot of interest in the program that meets one hour a day, four days a week and the bike club is currently planning longer rides in different neighborhoods.
The Evanston Public Library received funds to add a second book bike which is a program to expand library services to Evanston parks and community events. Jill Skwerski is one of two library staff that employs a custom built electronic assist bike on the road that offer the services of checking out and returning books, collecting fees, and issuing library cards. The book bike allows the library staff to have visibility at Evanston events a traditional book mobile cannot go. The book bike not only promotes literacy, but inspires community members to think of a bicycle in a new way.