New Apprenticeship Program at Bikes Not Bombs

News released on: 
Sep 2nd, 2016

Chayanne at work at the BNB Bike Shop

Dear Friends,

Chayanne Almeida has been working towards a job at a bike shop for as long as he can remember. He started teaching himself about bikes on his back porch when he was just 11. And at 18, he turned his passion into a paying job as a youth mechanic and Earn-A-Bike Instructor at Bikes Not Bombs. But Chayanne’s growth at Bikes Not Bombs didn’t end there. In the Spring of 2016 he was hired as an apprentice mechanic at our Bike Shop.

Like you, we know that young people face barriers when entering today’s workforce. Entry level candidates aren’t hired without a complete resume, prior work experience, and less tangible skills - such as the confidence to answer interview questions or write a compelling cover letter. And it is no different when applying to bike shops.

But with the help of our community, Bikes Not Bombs is creating jobs for youth through the Apprenticeship Program at the Bike Shop. This Fall, we invite you to make a donation to Bikes Not Bombs and be part of another young person’s path to a meaningful career.

While learning how to dismantle cranksets, adjust brakes and derailleurs as a youth mechanic, Chayanne was also positioning himself to work at the Bike Shop. He formed a relationship with staff and started volunteering to practice his mechanical skills and “get my name out there.”  He made it well known that he wanted to be the apprentice at the Bike Shop by checking weekly to see when he could apply for the next opening. 

And his hard work paid off. As an apprentice, young people like Chayanne have the paid opportunity to work at a shop and gain critical hands on experience. After years of a lecture-based Vocational Educational training model, in 2015 we invested the resources in an apprenticeship program. Now apprentices are learning and practicing the skills that entry level mechanics would do at any shop while contributing significantly to the work of our Bike Shop. 

With this experience, a graduate can apply for a job and confidently answer the critical question, “Have you worked in a bike shop before?”

All this is made possible by grassroots support. Since 1984 Bikes Not Bombs has held true to our mission of creating local and global programs that provide skill development, jobs, and sustainable transportation. And with the help of our grassroots community, we were able to create the Apprenticeship Program and hire Chayanne. Now, as an apprentice, he is not only on the way to realizing his dream of being a professional mechanic but also earning a fair wage in the process.

Six months into employment at the Shop, Chayanne knows that working on “different models of bikes is a lot tougher than I thought.”  But through the one-on-one mentorship of his co-workers, he is now the fastest bike builder at the Shop, building an impressive 4 new bikes in a day!

And it’s not only mechanical skills that he’s been gaining. Chayanne has learned how the Shop works, how to interact with customers, and time management. These are long-term skills will be useful no matter what he does in his future.

As the program, which runs Spring - Fall, winds up for this year, Chayanne says, “I think I’ll keep working on bikes forever.” He’s hoping to pick up more hours at the Shop next Spring since “working at BNB is really fun...[but at my other job] I just work to get paid.”  

With your support youth like Chayanne can keep learning lifelong job and mechanical skills.

In March we’ll bring on a new apprentice who, like Chayanne, will learn how to work professionally as a mechanic. Through hands on learning and real life shop experience, young people leave the program with the know-how to secure and excel at positions in their future. I hope you will make a donation to Bikes Not Bombs so that together we can create skill-building jobs for young people.

With gratitude,

Jodi Sugerman-Brozan

Executive Director

P.S. The success of our programs - such as the Apprenticeship - depend on our ability to plan for the long-term. We ask you to consider a recurring gift such as a monthly donation or an annual pledge.