Living in Fort Collins affords almost everyone the luxury of traveling by bicycle pretty much all the time. Unfortunately, not everyone in Fort Collins can afford the luxury of owning a bicycle. This is where the Fort Collins Bike Co-op’s most well-known and beloved program, Earn-A-Bike, comes into play. The Earn-A-Bike program gives anyone and everyone the opportunity to earn a bicycle, simply by picking up an application at the Bike Co-op and doing a little volunteer work out in the community. All you need is a photo ID and a little initiative.
So how does this awesome program work? It’s easy! Just come to the Bike Co-op during Open Shop hours (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 2-5pm and Sundays 12-6pm) and ask for an application. We’ll take a few minutes to go over the application with you to make sure you understand how the program works, then you’re off to volunteer! Applications are limited -due to our capacity for building bikes, we can only give out 15 Earn-A-Bike applications per month- so we recommend you come by early in the month to pick one up. You need to show us your photo ID when you pick up the application, and then you can go volunteer at any local non-profit, except for the Bike Co-op, to get your hours done. You need to volunteer for 20 hours to earn a bike, or 10 hours if you are referred to us through a social services program or counselor.
Some frequently asked questions:
Q: Who is eligible for the program?
A: Everyone! Anyone can earn a bike through our program; all you need is a valid photo ID.
Q: What kind of bike will I get?
A: Your bike will be a mountain bike. We will build it specifically for you so that it fits you and we’ll have you test ride it when you come to pick it up. Due to supply and demand, we are not able to accommodate any requests for other kinds/styles of bike.
Q: Why can’t I volunteer at the Bike Co-op for my bike?
A: The Earn-A-Bike program is the Bike Co-op’s way of spreading the volunteer wealth back into the community, so we do not allow Earn-A-Bike candidates to volunteer at the Bike Co-op for their bike. You are welcome to volunteer with us otherwise…but it won’t count towards your Earn A Bike.
Q: How do I get referred through a social services program or counselor?
A: If you are working with a social services program, such as the Murphy Center, Summitstone, Catholic Charities, the Mission or another group, ask them to write you a letter on their letterhead stating that you need a bike for transportation. Bring the letter with you when you pick up your application and you have to volunteer only 10 hours.
Q: Where can I volunteer?
A: You can volunteer at any registered non-profit. We can provide you with a list of local non-profits if you’re not sure where to go.
Q: My friend needs to earn a bike. Can I pick up an application for them?
A: Unfortunately, no. Your friend needs to come in and pick up their own application.
Q: What if you run out of applications?
A: This does happen from time to time. We’ll have more applications available the next month and suggest coming in on the first day that we are open of that month so that you can ensure you get an application.
Q: I have a question that isn’t covered here.
A: Great! Send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Alternately, call us during Open Shop at 970-484-3804 and ask to talk to me or Justin. We’re happy to answer any questions.
We’re really grateful to work in such a vibrant cycling community. Few such places exist where the generosity of the public is so significant that we are able to give bikes away in exchange for some volunteer work in our community. All of the Earn-A-Bikes we give out are reconditioned donations that have been built up to ready-to-ride condition by our mechanics and are inspected by the Earn-A-Bike program’s head mechanic before they are given out. We do everything we can to ensure we are giving out bikes that are safe and functional and that fit their riders.
Giving out Earn-A-Bikes is my favorite part of my job; program candidates are unfailingly grateful and kind, and are often thrilled with the bikes we build for them. One gentleman was so excited he wrote us a thank you note, which reads:
“Today 5/6/16 I reached my goal of once again owning a “bike”. And the possibility of that could of only happened with the awesome love of neighbors and community only offered by the “Bicycle Co-op”. Thank you for life.”
When we received that note as well as hugs from its sender, it was one of those moments that firmly demonstrated the importance of Building Community Through Bicycling.