The Growler gets an up-close look at how three local bike nonprofits are using bicycles as a vehicle for change in the Twin Cities.
Dear Friends of Full Cycle,
Full Cycle’s mission is to connect with and support homeless youth, our community and our Earth through bikes, business and relationships. When young people in our community who are feeling disconnected, unsupported and misunderstood are given opportunities to prove themselves, they do so in a way that benefits us all.
As Full Cycle continues to grow and experience success with its youth programming and social enterprise, it has become apparent that we need to expand staff to meet the exciting challenges and responsibilities that come with such growth. As the quantity of work Full Cycle has taken on in creating solutions to youth homelessness increases, it is important for us to invite others onto the team to assure our quality of service continues to be exceptional.
We added a full-time regular staff member in the area of classroom instruction in an effort to increase the number of internship opportunities available to young people experiencing homelessness and underemployment. We have also created two new positions in the shop service area that will allow us to expand our hours of operation and participate in more community events.
An overall focus on staff expansion with new roles and responsibilities ended the year with a viable plan for seven regular staff members, four seasonal staff, and expanded opportunities for our youth interns with five seasonal graduate positions as we move into 2016. I truly believe that Full Cycle has the right people in the right places to do amazing work in the upcoming year. With an undeniable vision, committed and passionate staff, and the generosity and loyalty of our supporters, we look forward to serving more young people and doing more business through our bike shop than ever before.
Director and Founder, Full Cycle
Full Cycle’s mission is to connect with and support homeless youth, our community and our Earth through bikes, business and relationships. Our constant drive to build a better bike shop allows us to accomplish this mission on a greater scale as we continue to grow and evolve.
2014 not only marked the hiring of our 100th youth intern, but the completion of year 2 of our 3 year growth strategy. I’m pleased to announce that we are ahead of schedule with renovations to the shop and classroom and the two spaces are not only more functional, but look amazing. The message and feeling the space conveys in combination with the growing success of the bike shop has resulted in a higher quality experience for our youth interns, free bike appointments, and customers. Our newest initiatives, Borrow a Bike, Full Cycle Food Delivery, and Full Cycle Gardens, have proven themselves to be successful ventures in allowing us to employ a greater number of youth while positively impacting the community at the same time. As a result, these initiatives have been incorporated into regular programming here at Full Cycle.
As Full Cycle grows, so does the amount of disconnected young people looking for an opportunity to thrive beyond the constraints and barriers that come with a lack of stable housing, education, and employment opportunities. Thankfully, with Full Cycle’s success the number of loyal bike shop customers, funders, and supporters has also increased. In order to sustain and continue growing, Full Cycle aims to have our customers purchase what we do (high quality used bikes and service) and the larger community invest in why we do it (to connect with and support homeless youth). We thank all of our supporters who have helped build Full Cycle from the ground up and urge you to spread the word and connect us to opportunities that will support the work we do with such a deserving population of young people working hard to make change that benefits us all.
Director and Founder, Full Cycle
Dear Full Cycle,
It was almost seven years ago when I found out you needed an experienced mechanic to create a bike shop and an internship for young folks. When I first heard about your visionary programming that Matt was developing and the new position he had created to expand services, I knew you and I were meant to be together. It felt like the universe was laying out a perfect plan for us. And today, as my time here comes to an end, I can say that our time together has been truly perfect.
When I started, you were a dingy auto garage with heaps of parts lying on the floor and BMX ramps in the basement. Slowly but surely Matt and I got you cleaned up and ready for business, filling you with quality used bicycles to sell, professional work stands, and actual bike tools. During shop hours, paid interns helped us run the show, and when we weren’t open for business we gave bikes away to youth who needed free transportation. All of that magic still happens today.
Matt and I have always taken care of you and made sure you were a happy space that was both safe and fun for everyone to hang out in, and Matt will continue to do so with integrity and humor. We’re lucky to have other awesome staff on board to help your mission continue. Rita continues to be, hands down, one of your biggest champions and solid devotees. Jendeen and Josh make sure that our young folks get what they need outside of the shop. Erin is here to hold it down with mechanical skills and jokes for days.
While our team of dedicated staff have kept – and will keep – things growing and flowing, the young people that you were created to serve are the shining stars of my time here. Since 2008, 113 young people have been given the opportunity to gain not only employment experience, but also to check in before their shift every day and share how they are feeling, to go for bike rides, to visit other bike-related businesses, and to make friends. The stability your safe space provides has helped so many youth secure housing, health care, food, and emotional support. All 113 interns, plus the hundreds of young people who have made free bike appointments over the years have made my life richer. The youth have been some of my most impactful teachers, and they have always impressed me with their resiliency and brilliance.
Full Cycle, I want to thank you for giving me so much. You have taught me what it means to meet people where they are. To be mentored by some of the most dynamic leaders in our community. To be a part of an agency that encourages innovation. To keep encouraging and equipping people to ride bikes. To help make a real difference in people’s lives. It has been perfect.
I wish you all the very best.
This is the third year that Full Cycle has been the recipient of funds from the Thrivent Tour. This year we gathered a team of staff, interns, and graduates to participate in this incredible fundraising ride. Heartwood, Thrivent Financial’s corporate retreat center, was our home base. Located in the gorgeous northwoods of Wisconsin near Spooner, Heartwood was an amazing setting for riding 25, 50, or 100 miles through the fall colors in the sunshine. Our experience was beyond great on this fully supported ride. What a wonderful way to raise funds, friends, and awareness of the needs of our young folks!
Donations are being collected through the month of October, so if you haven’t yet given please help us in our efforts.
Thanks so much for your consideration.
Team Full Cycle
Joey Guerra lived in Minneapolis and never met a bike he didn’t want to ride. He rode like he lived- hard, fast and loving every minute of it. Joey will always be remembered and missed terribly by all who knew him. Donations to Full Cycle in his memory will aid in access to helmets, promote bike safety, and Full Cycle’s programs for youth.
To honor Joey with a donation to Full Cycle, click here for our online donation page and be sure to put ‘Joey Guerra’ on the bottom of the second page where it says ‘This gift is in honor or memory of someone special’.
If you prefer to make a credit card donation over the phone, please contact Julia Donaldson at 612.302.3436
If you prefer to mail a check, please make it out to ‘Full Cycle’ and send it to 3515 Chicago Ave S Minneapolis, MN 55407
Two words come to mind when reflecting on 2013 here at Full Cycle: Bigger & Better! With space to spread out and more hands to help, Full Cycle is now able to offer more paid internships, more free bike appointments and more 1:1 time between trained youth workers and the homeless youth we serve. We have also put a lot of effort into making our retail space look better than ever—just in time for our newly-expanded shop hours of operation.
As a non-profit we cannot do this work without your ongoing support. With your help we will continue to work hard, stay focused and be a successful solution to homelessness for so many young people.
—Matt Tennant, Director and Founder, Full Cycle
Download the 2013 Annual Report (PDF, 2mb)
Throughout my internship at Full Cycle I’ve had some amazing opportunities. I started out in a homeless shelter over on the North Side and wasn’t really sure where I was going with my life. Long or even just short term, I had hit a wall so to speak.
I had known about Full Cycle for a while but didn’t really know what they were about. I guess I had just thought they were the bike shop down the street. You’d come in the shop and ask for parts or maybe look around a little bit, but I never really knew about all the magic behind the scenes. I mean when you walk in they have a certain feel that’s not like other shops anywhere. It’s a fun little place with a really goofy and welcoming staff. Plus, there are Power Puff Girls on the wall which is pretty awesome. So I asked if they were hiring one day because I thought the idea of working hands-on with bikes would be really fun. And that’s when I found out they’re all about helping homeless youth, not just with getting a job either, but they help you get a form of reliable transportation and teach you how to work on it as well. After filling out an application and going through an interview with them I started my internship.
We would have super awesome classes during the first three months in Phase I and learn basic mechanics to prepare us for actually working on bikes in a reasonable amount of time in Phase II. We also went on a field trip to a BMX dirt track where we all got to spend the day riding around and even go off of the huge dirt jumps they had there. Another field trip we went on was to Quality Bicycle Products, the main distributor of bike parts in the US as well as the owners of Surly, All City and many more bike brands. While touring QBP, I found out it was one of the coolest places to work. After applying for a job there, I got an interview and ended up with one of the best jobs I could have ever asked for.
I have gone from being homeless living in a shelter to my own house with a couple of my friends. I have found a place where I could start a career and comfortably make a livable wage. And now that my internship is coming to a close I don’t really feel like I’m losing a job, but more of a family or a close group of friends that have helped me with more things than I could have even asked for. I’ll never forget how they’ve helped me get me on my feet. I’ll always be back to visit and check out super cool field trips.
Written by a young person who participated in our Free Bike Program, was hired for our Internship, and will now graduate at the end of March 2014!
Thanks to Wells Fargo, we now have a fully functional classroom space, a roof that doesn’t leak, and a van to pick up donations and transport interns in. These key items have allowed us to expand our capacity for doing free bike appointments, increased the quality of our internship experience, and increased our ability to receive enough bicycle donations to keep our programs running smooth. A big ‘Thank You!’ to both the Wells Fargo Foundation and the Community Council for allowing us to realize some great potential!
The Youth Bike Summit is a chance for folks of all ages and interests to come together and talk, share, learn, and have fun. Full Cycle has been lucky enough to attend for the last two years and was proud to present a workshop called ‘Engaging Homeless Youth and Impacting Community’ at this year’s gathering. The experience was incredible. We are inspired once again to do the work that we do and have new thoughts and ideas for how to do it better.
Follow us and the Youth Bike Summit on Facebook and Twitter for updates and information on how you can impact your community.