The Rapidian

The Spoke Folks increase access to bicycle transportation through funding from Grand Rapids Community Foundation

A $50,000 grant from Grand Rapids Community Foundation will allow The Spoke Folks to hire a full-time staff member and double the amount of bikes repaired and sold in Grand Rapids.
Underwriting support from:

Grand Rapids Community Foundation

Grand Rapids Community Foundation leads Kent County in making positive, sustainable change. With its endowment, the Community Foundation supports local nonprofits, leads significant social change and helps donors achieve their philanthropic goals. For more information, please visit www.grfoundation.org.

The Spoke Folks is a nonprofit bicycle co-op working to ensure everyone in Grand Rapids has access to a safe and reliable bike and is empowered to use their bike as a form of active transportation. For more information, visit www.thespokefolks.org

The Spoke Folks operate a bicycle repair truck to bring their services out into the community.

The Spoke Folks operate a bicycle repair truck to bring their services out into the community. /Jay Niewiek, The Spoke Folks

The Spoke Folks Shop located at 221 Logan St SW in Grand Rapids.

The Spoke Folks Shop located at 221 Logan St SW in Grand Rapids. /Jay Niewiek, The Spoke Folks

Most job applications ask the same question: Do you have access to reliable transportation? The Spoke Folks, a nonprofit bicycle co-op, want every member of our community equipped to check “YES” with confidence.  
 
The Spoke Folks started three years ago with $6,000 and a mission to help people in low income neighborhoods have access to safe and reliable bikes. Now, thanks to a $50,000 grant from Grand Rapids Community Foundation, The Spoke Folks are one step closer to achieving that mission.
 
The Spoke Folks promote the health, economic, social and environmental benefits of biking through cycling education workshops, community bike rides and bicycle repair sessions. The Spoke Folks know how important reliable transportation is for retaining employment. They hope to share their skills and resources to empower individuals to bicycle to work, even throughout the winter months.
 
The grant from Grand Rapids Community Foundation will allow The Spoke Folks to hire a full-time staff member to provide mechanical services from their mobile repair truck. The new staff member will educate and empower individuals to use bicycles as a steady, dependable mode of transportation. 
 
“We’re very excited to be able to take our services to people, instead of asking them come to us,” said Jay Niewiek, Executive Director and Co-Founder of The Spoke Folks. 
 
The Spoke Folks plan to use funding from Grand Rapids Community Foundation to double the amount of bikes sold and repaired. “It’s all about building the culture and ensuring safe, reliable bikes,” Niewiek said. 
 
The Spoke Folks recognize that biking has been a part of Grand Rapids community for more than 30 years. Their goal is to broaden the lens beyond recreational riding and increase access for those who need bicycles for transportation, especially to and from employment. 
 
"The Spoke Folks can now support residents at the neighborhood level with affordable access to bicycles for recreation and transportation," said Laurie Craft, Program Director at Grand Rapids Community Foundation, “The Spoke Folks have established partnerships at the neighborhood level that will enable them to engage more effectively with local residents.”
 
The Spoke Folks hope to continue community partnerships with LINC Community Revitalization, The Other Way Ministries, Well House and HQ Grand Rapids. The Spoke Folks are also looking to create even more partnerships with area nonprofits. “Increasing community partnerships means more people know they can count on us.” Niewiek said. 
 

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