By Savanna Samuels, Howard University News Service
Gearin’ Up Bicycles, founded in 2012, uses its platform to spread the importance of career development for teenagers in overlooked communities in different wards of D.C. to aid those in search of a better life. As a community non-profit bike shop located on Randolph Place in Northeast Washington, it provides job training, outreach programs, as well as special events to connect to the area that surrounds it. Gearin’ Up’s work development program caters to those from the ages of 11-24 by training them to become bike mechanics for the city.
One program that is highlighted within the organization is titled, “Bike Force”. Bike Force is the series of pop-up shops that provides free bike repairs around the city in partnership with other organizations and businesses. Gearin’ Up provides their services in all wards in the D.C. area, but puts their focus on Wards 7 and 8 due to the lack of bike shops in those areas. In fact, there are roughly 64 bike shops in Washington, D.C., yet 0 in Wards 7 and 8.
Sterling Stone is the executive director of Gearin’ Up who has been associated with the program since it was just affiliated with the Boys and Girls Clubs in D.C. He knows what the community needs and specifically the needs of children and teenagers that live within it due to his experience of being an educator and a principal.
“We see as we look around the country that: one: programs like this are few and far in between, (and) two: there aren’t a lot of people speaking up for populations that are often overlooked. Particularly youth, Africans Americans in general, also LGBTQ+ community, deaf and hard of hearing, pretty much anyone who is not a white male are generally left out of the transportation conversation and question. So, why we continue to do it is to hold everyone accountable for those group and also to bring those groups through our organization into the rooms with us,” he said.
As one of the youth mechanics and a manager participating in the career development program, Anthony Cousart enjoys his time at Gearin’ Up and is constantly cultivating his skills to make his mark within his community and beyond.
“I got into this organization because they help youth and because I like doing hands-on work.”
Looking at the future of this non-profit bicycle shop, it is evident that it is promising.
Colt Dutt, the program coordinator touches on his ideas and goals for the further prosperity of Gearin’ Up Bicycle Shop.
“I’d like us to do more ride leadership kind of things and trail maintenance as well as streamline the process towards employment at other bicycle locations in D.C.,” he said.
Overall, it has been made clear that there is a constant mission to create a mission for those who are in need of having a seat at the table. Non-profit organizations like Gearin’ Up provide that seat to make opportunity inclusive to all walks of life. The future looks bright for those aspiring bicycle mechanics and enthusiast as well as for those who are just looking for a way out.