Bikes can be used both as a means of transportation and as a way to enjoy a sunny afternoon exploring the local area but for a group of young adults in Minneapolis, Minnesota, they are providing much more than that thanks to Full Cycle.
Full Cycle might look to the outside eye like simply an ordinary bike shop but, while it does contain row upon row of bikes and all the parts you might need to fix one, there’s a twist. It is in fact a nonprofit bike shop, “a social enterprise” explains Founder and Director, Matt Tennant.
They “focus specifically on homeless youth and … do that with four different strategies,” he says. There’s the “nonprofit bike shop which provides paid internships, we do free bike appointments with homeless youth, we run a food shelf specifically for homeless youth that’s staffed by homeless youth and we also have a street outreach program.”
The problems faced by homeless youth are many. “Right off the bat, once youth are not stably housed, a lot times it’s very hard to find employment. A lot of times they can’t be reached by an employer because they don’t have a stable address or even a stable phone.”
But Full Cycle’s goal is to ‘Break the Cycle’ that keeps them from supporting themselves. Tennant says that Full Cycle has become “really good at is connecting with these youth on the streets and then helping them with employment and transportation.”
Before even starting the bike shop, Tennant set up a food shelf, Groveland Food for Youth. He’d noticed that while there were services available to help homeless youth, they were still lacking in some respects.
One of those “around accessing food. Young folks were showing up to food shelves and being asked for picture ID, a proof of address and social security card and most of the young folks we work with don’t have that let alone all three.”
So Tennant decided “to create something where the youth on the streets could come and access food and parenting supplies … a hastle-free, low-barrier program where they could come get those needs met.”
After the food shelf, the idea for the Full Cycle bike shop stemmed from Tennant’s work as an outreach worker, which he started 13 years ago. As he was working the night shift in a homeless youth shelter, he would start working on his bike.
Bus 52 is a year long project devoted to reminding and reconnecting America to its roots of community, innovation and improvement. Every week, the team will film, upload and post videos and articles about people from every kind of circumstance confronting challenges in their community through innovative ways. The people and their stories, roughly one hundred in total, will be presented as a paBus 52 is a year long project devoted to reminding and reconnecting America to its roots of community, innovation and improvement. Every week, the team will film, upload and post videos and articles about people from every kind of circumstance confronting challenges in their community through innovative ways. The people and their stories, roughly one hundred in total, will be presented as a patchwork of American community innovation, and will serve to ignite the minds of those watching, further spurring their involvement in their own communities.