By now, I'm sure you've heard of "Giving Tuesday." If you're like me, you sleepily opened your inbox this morning to a flood of passionate, urgent solicitations for funds for a million and a half excellent local, national, and international good causes.
After a whirlwind weekend of buying stuff (or contemplating buying stuff, or resisting buying stuff, or feeling conflicted about buying stuff, as the case may be), it feels great to shift the focus to giving back. But it can get a little overwhelming to navigate.
There are a lot of great resources to figure out where to donate your money. Personally, my heart is one of my best resources and my heart lies with the bike community in Philadelphia and the organizations that are using the bicycle as a tool to support those most in need of support and make our city a better place. If you are looking for a good cause on Giving Tuesday, check out these great bike-centric options!
Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia
I'll start with this one, since they have graciously employed me for over three years now. I wouldn't be working here if I didn't truly believe in our mission - making bicycling a safe and fun way to get around for anyone in Greater Philadelphia. We do this through our advocacy work, exemplified by the new Manayunk Bridge which opened this Fall, and our education work with youth and adults.
When you support the Bicycle Coalition, you're supporting Women Bike PHL, the program I founded a few years ago that offers programming and community events for women getting started on two wheels in Philly. You're supporting the Cadence Youth Cycling program that works with young people throughout the city promoting safe riding and leadership skill. You're supporting the future bike lanes and trails that will continue to make our city safer for everyone.
You're supporting efforts like the first-ever Philadelphia Vision Zero conference that we're hosting this week with Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, pushing our City to adopt policies that protect our most vulnerable road users from injury and death by traffic crash. And you're supporting me!
Gearing Up is a local nonprofit that uses the bicycle as a tool to support women in recovery from addiction, incarceration, and abuse. They teach spin classes at the women's prison, Riverside Correctional Facility, and engage women in halfway houses and recovery homes around Philadelphia in multiple bike rides per week, which culminate in clients earning their own bicycle that they get to keep.
Their model is great, and unique. I've never heard of another organization doing quite what they're doing. This year, a beautiful story about their prison spin classes even made National Public Radio. Give it a listen here.
Supporting Gearing Up means supporting women like Mariam, who says of her time pedaling with Gearing Up from the Kirkbride Center in West Philly, "My favorite memory from riding at Kirkbride with Gearing Up was getting my bike. In the days and miles leading up to earning my bicycle, it was all I could think about. I remember the sense of accomplishment; the first time I saw the bike that I earned I burst into tears of joy."
I've personally led rides with Gearing Up and seen the power of what they're doing in action. They're the real deal. And they're going all-out for Giving Tuesday! You can donate online, of course, but if you stop by Square One Coffee today (on 13th street between Spruce and Locust), you can also meet their staff and donate in person.
They even have incentives for a bunch of giving levels - you could claim a gift certificate from Fairmount Bicycles, get a raffle ticket for a Breezer bike, or even get to ride your bike with the mayor! Check it out and donate here.
Neighborhood Bike Works
A gem of West Philadelphia, Neighborhood Bike Works uses bikes as a tool for youth development work with young people around the city, but especially in West Philly. Their mission is to increase opportunities for urban youth in underserved neighborhoods in greater Philadelphia by offering educational, recreational, and career-building opportunities through bicycling.
They offer earn-a-bike programs where youth learn bike mechanics skills on a bike they ultimately get to keep, they lead bike rides around Philly where youth explore parts of the city they may not have traveled to before, and they establish paths to opportunity and employment for their older youth, like Malik, an NBW alumnus who now works as a bike mechanic for Indego, Philly's bike share system.
A few weeks ago, I attended NBW's annual Major Taylor Ride, a celebration of the community NBW has built over the past few decades. Staff and parents and volunteers and young people shared a bike ride and a delicious meal, and it was easy to see the love they shared.
This was a big year for NBW - they moved from their church basement location on Locust Walk to a beautiful and much bigger space around 39th and Lancaster. They have a lot more capacity to offer programming to more kids now, but it's up to donors to make it possible for them to expand their offerings. Check out their website and donate today!