Cycles of Change was founded in 1998 as an after-school bicycle education program operating out of the basement of Roosevelt Middle School in East Oakland. Combining bike mechanic trainings with after-school bicycle adventures, their programs became wildly popular and developed a huge following. Since then, they have expanded to offer in-school bicycle safety trainings and watershed education to thousands of students in Alameda County and beyond. It's beyond rewarding to work with Cycles of Change over the years from fundraisers to collaborations. They are the heart of the bicycle community in the East Bay opening the hearts and minds of the youth and empowering them with bikes.
Support their Winter Campaign and get to know the students through Bike Club Stories and how bikes inspire them. If you donate by this Saturday, Jan. 28, the deadline to the campaign, you'll have a chance to win a custom CoC Burrito Supreme, tie dye Bike Club shirt, and Reflective Key Chain! Click here for raffle details.
| Natalie Ramos, with Cycles of Change, shares a more in depth look at their mission and the importance of their programing:
At Cycles of Change, one of our greatest missions is to empower youth of color to safely and independently navigate their streets on two wheels and to become leaders in their communities. This learning and growth is on full display in our after-school bike clubs, which are currently going strong at three Oakland schools: Bret Harte Middle School, Madison Park Academy, and MetWest High School: Huerta campus.
The participants of our bike clubs range from outgoing, ever-enthusiastic types to introverts who may or may not care to show their interest in their chosen after school activity. However, what they all have in common is the sense of pride and autonomy that they have gained throughout the course of this school year’s bike club.
Some of these students started the year having never ridden a bike before. Bike clubs begin programming by building essential riding skills as well as basic mechanic knowledge and rules of safe riding. Throughout this process, students are encouraged to contribute to the planning of the rest of the year—what landmarks in their city do they want to pedal out to?; how can they become teachers to students who join the group later in the year?; what kind of community will they build together?
At this point in the year, more experienced bike-clubbers have gotten the opportunity to lead their peers in off-campus rides and teach new students how to ride safely. They are excited to tackle the steepest hills and navigate the busiest streets of their city, all while looking out for each other and enjoying the process.
This process of community building is not without struggle, however. Throughout the twists and turns of a school year complicated by politics, normalized violence, and a pandemic, what stands out to us more than ever is our students’ steadfast resilience; they are adaptable and strong, even at such young ages. This gives us perhaps even more hope about what amazing leaders these kiddos are capable of becoming. They don’t shy away from the hard stuff, but throughout it all, our students have worked hard to ensure that bike clubs remain a space for collectivity and joy.
We are so grateful to be able to continue growing in community and learning from our youth.
Thank you for supporting us and empowering our work!