June 7, 2020: Board Member Opportunity Extended to June 30

Dear Community,

Cycles for Change recognizes that the recent activities surrounding George Floyd’s death have had significant impact on our communities. The events of the past two weeks have been difficult and painful for our families, our friends, and our community as a whole. As our country and city work to rebuild communities and focus on advancing structural changes that eliminate persistent and ongoing inequities, Cycles for Change acknowledges that people need time to process the events that happened and may need more time to consider joining the board of directors for Cycles for Change. Therefore, the application for new board members has been extended until June 30, 2020.

Please find all information about the opportunity here.

Sincerely, 

C4C board

May 22, 2020: Board Member Opportunity

Greetings Cycles for Change Community,

We hope this update finds you safe and well. We are in touch about the future of Cycles for Change. After this difficult time of transition resulting in significant scaling back, the Board of Directors is at the point of determining if there is a viable path forward for the organization. We hope to recruit a new group of directors to envision a future for C4C. This message speaks to how we envision doing that. If we are unable to seat a new board in the coming weeks, we will plan to dissolve the organization by the end of this year. 

C4C’s current status is tenuous, but we do have some existing organizational assets that may make it possible for work to continue in furthering our mission, “To build a diverse and empowered community of bicyclists.” We have our 501(c)(3) nonprofit status and legal structure for the organization, including bylaws for the board and articles of incorporation. We have limited financial assets from the sale of the bike shop inventory. Most importantly, we have an awesome community of supporters who are engaged and eager to move forward.

We are looking for new directors who are interested in undertaking the continuing work of maintaining the organization and engaging in a process to determine the future of C4C. They will be responsible for filling officer positions on the board (president, vice president, treasurer and secretary), managing our new Learn to Ride partnership with BikeMN and ensuring proper grant reporting, resolving any future financial obligations and tax reporting. At minimum, candidates should have organizational leadership experience and be aligned with our mission, values, and focus. We are also looking for candidates from diverse backgrounds with knowledge of community equity building, organizational finance management, or marketing/communication/development strategies. The term length for new board members will be 18 months. Please refer to the full job description for more details.

All interested applicants should submit their completed application, a resume, and a picture (optional) to [email protected] by June 5, 2020. We will then hold a public election via electronic ballot (voting instructions to come), assuming we have at least five qualified candidates. If we do not have at least five candidates, no election will be held and the current board will move forward with dissolving the organization after our current commitments are completed. 

Thank you for remaining attentive and interested over these last few months. We hope you will consider who would be good candidates for the board, individuals able to authentically serve the mission of creating a diverse and empowered bicycling community. As always, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected] with any questions or comments.

Sincerely, 

C4C board

April 28, 2020 Update

Dear Cycles for Change Community,

We hope this message finds you safe and healthy. We also hope that, amidst the difficult circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you are finding opportunities to enjoy the beginning of spring on your bicycle.

As we communicated in our last update, we have officially closed the bike shop and moved out of our retail space at 2010 26th Ave in the Seward neighborhood. Despite our best efforts, we were not able to facilitate the continued use of that space by a community bike shop. We did complete the successful sale of all inventory and most equipment, tools, and fixtures to another nonprofit community-oriented organization, Lowertown Bike Shop. We encourage our community to check them out for your bike shop and service needs.

As a board, we have continued to meet regularly via conference call and have been hard at work considering possibilities for the future of Cycles for Change programming, namely adult Learn to Ride (LTR) classes and Open Shop services/space. Remaining funds from our existing Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) grant through the Metropolitan Council are set to expire in September 2020. In mid-February, we issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) to carry out LTR programming, posting it on our website and sending it to a list of organizations, many of which were recommended by community members. Two organizations submitted proposals; both met basic eligibility requirements. 

After careful review of the two proposals and follow-up conversations, we are excited to announce that Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota (BikeMN) will be our partner for 2020 LTR classes. BikeMN will act as a subcontractor of C4C and will plan, coordinate, conduct, and report on LTR efforts. BikeMN brings a breadth of experience with, and infrastructure for, community bike programming and, specifically, teaching folks to ride bikes. They are committed to fostering an atmosphere of inclusion and equity among participants as they work to provide classes and engage communities in our identified neighborhoods (Frogtown in St. Paul, the East Side in St. Paul, and Phillips in Minneapolis; as determined in our CMAQ grant). BikeMN will work closely with community organizations in these neighborhoods to identify the best outreach tactics and locations for classes.

Currently, BikeMN is diligently working to determine how to proceed with classes while prioritizing the safety and health of participants, staff, and volunteers. They have already begun outreach efforts, building on many existing relationships with community organizations. Keep an eye out for further information from BikeMN. You can visit their website and join their newsletter distribution list on their homepage. If you previously volunteered with LTR at C4C, we encourage you to reach out to BikeMN to get involved or they may be in touch with you directly if the need arises.

The future of Open Shop programming remains undetermined and the board is still exploring options. We will be back in touch with updates soon.

Sincerely, 

C4C Board of Directors

March 28, 2020 Update

Greetings Cycles for Change community –

In these difficult times amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, we wish you health and safety as you navigate social distancing recommendations and other widespread impacts being felt in many aspects of life. 

This message is to provide an update on the Cycles for Change shop and inventory. As part of our ongoing efforts to pay any creditors and determine next steps, we have been in discussions with Lowertown Bike Shop since December to value the inventory and see if it could be possible for a nonprofit bike shop to continue in the current location. While we felt we were close to achieving that outcome, it was not possible to come to terms that would work for all parties. As of earlier this week, Cycles for Change has come to an agreement to sell all of its inventory to Lowertown Bike Shop.  This includes all bikes, bike equipment, tools, office supplies, and shop fixtures. 

Lowertown Bike Shop (LBS), located at the Union Depot in St. Paul, is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing sustainable transportation options using recycled bikes and parts. LBS provides educational opportunities to promote health, safety, environmental awareness, and connectedness within our community.  We are grateful for Lowertown Bike Shop’s dedication to and support of Cycles for Change in this difficult time and thank them deeply for the time and energy their team has put forth throughout this negotiation process. Their approach to building community through bicycles aligns with Cycles for Change’s mission, and they remain a steadfast resource to folks looking for bicycle parts and service.

In addition to selling inventory, Cycles for Change has terminated its lease at the shop at 2010 26th Avenue South and plans to leave the space by the end of March 2020. With Cycles for Change vacating its space on 26th Avenue, mail will be forwarded to a PO Box in the neighborhood. 

The Cycles for Change Board did not take this decision lightly. However, given the organization’s financial needs, selling the inventory and vacating its storefront was the only realistic avenue available to the Board of Directors.

The Board of Directors is also working hard to determine the future of the Learn to Ride and Open Shop programs. After evaluating submissions from the Learn to Ride Request for Proposals, the board is in discussion with a potential vendor to carry out Learn to Ride activities in 2020. Discussions focus around how the program can be carried out under the terms of the CMAQ grant administered by the Metropolitan Council and how the program can respond to current and possible future restrictions of activities amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The board will provide updates about the Learn to Ride and Open Shop programs when more details are confirmed. 

If you have any questions or concerns, the best way to reach the Cycles for Change Board is via the [email protected] email address.

Sincerely,

C4C Board of Directors

Learn to Ride Request for Proposals

Find the Request for Proposals (RFP) to conduct Adult Learn to Ride classes in summer 2020. The intent is to find a partner to carry out the work under the terms of an existing contract. Questions about the RFP can be submitted until February 21; proposals are due March 6. Please see the RFP for details. 

DOWNLOAD RFP >>

Thank you,

Cycles for Change Board of Directors 

Q&A

1) Is staff time for outreach, planning, coordination and follow-up reimbursable, along with instructional time?
Answer: Staff time for these purposes is allowable as long as within the project time frame. 

(2) Are costs for printed materials reimbursable?
Answer:  Printed materials are allowed. 

(3) Are helmets or bicycles for participants to keep eligible for reimbursement?
Answer: It does not appear that this expense is allowable. Allowable expenses include:
– bike fleet replacement and expansion
– storage for bike fleet & costs associated with moving the fleet
– the portion of fees for such things as email marketing attributed to the project 

(4) Is other equipment that our organization would retain for future use reimbursable, such as step-through bicycles, a storage trailer, or folding pedals?
Answer: Cycles for Change may be able to supply some of this equipment, such as bicycles. Other equipment appears to be allowed under the approved project budget.

Note: All work will be carried out under the terms of the contract between Cycles for Change and theMetropolitan Council. Please refer to the approved project budget (link) included in the Regional Solicitation application.

February 7, 2020 Update

Greetings C4C community,

It has been a month since the last community meeting, and in a continued commitment to transparency, below is an update summarizing the current status of key topics, including progress that has been made since we last communicated. If you happened to miss the community meeting, a copy of the presentation and notes are available on the C4C blog.

Financials
Since the community meeting, the C4C board and our contracted accounting firm have been closing out fourth quarter financials and paying outstanding bills. Additionally, the firm will be completing required 2019 year-end accounting and financial filings.

There are a number of financial and administrative obligations associated with the organization that we have continued to monitor and respond to as necessary. This includes:

  • Rent for the shop space, which continues to accrue despite the closure of the shop.
  • Rent for the office space, which is no longer accruing and has been paid in full.
  • Fees for critical services like communication databases, financial records, and inventory systems.
  • Taxes, insurance, and other required operating fees.
  • IRS and Minnesota tax filings.

The Future of Cycles for Change
Possible paths forward for the shop and programs were identified at the meeting, with feedback given and incorporated into our decisions. Below is a summary of the status of each and an update on progress made.

The Shop
The C4C board has been negotiating terms with a local nonprofit bike shop to take over the inventory and the space. This includes conducting a thorough inventory and determining the value of the assets. As a part of these discussions, the board has stressed the desire to see that the shop remains a welcoming space for the C4C community, including FTW and gender non-conforming folks, immigrants, black and indigenous peoples, and people of color. 

Open Shop
The future of Open Shop is uncertain. The C4C board is in discussions with an organization that is interested in carrying on open shop programming, however, it is unlikely that these programs will be able to continue in the current C4C shop location.

Learn to Ride

The C4C board is drafting a request for proposal (RFP) to share with potential program partners to facilitate Learn to Ride programming in 2020. The RFP will include the parameters and requirements of the current grant funding as well as the qualifications needed of the applicant. If you know of any organizations that should receive the RFP, please share their contact information with the board at [email protected]

Depending on the responses to the RFP, among other factors, the C4C board will select an applicant. If no eligible program partners are identified, C4C will forfeit the remaining grant funds for this program back to the federal government. 

Cycles for Change as an Organization
While primary focus has been on next steps for the shop, the C4C board continues to discuss the future of the Cycles for Change name and organization. This future depends on a variety of factors, including whether or not a program partner is selected to carry out Learn to Ride programs in 2020. If a partner is selected, Cycles For Change will need to remain in operation in order to administer the grant until its completion in September. If a partner is not identified, a decision will be made about dissolving the organization or turning it over to a newly elected board of directors. 

We will provide another update to the C4C community when there is significant information to share. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to email the board at [email protected]

Sincerely,

C4C Board

Minnesota Bike Walk Summit

If you’re interested, the Minnesota Bike Walk Summit is happening on March 5 at the capitol. Scholarships and travel stipends are available from the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota. Find more details here.

December 26, 2019 Update

Dear C4C community –

During this turbulent time for Cycles for Change, the board has been working hard to figure out options going forward. We have struggled to keep everyone updated to this point, including staff, donors, program participants, and others. This letter is an update following the December 17 community meeting and with an eye toward possible futures for Cycles for Change.

While Cycles for Change has a widespread community, the lifeblood of that community has been the staff. They built a welcoming space for anyone to join in all things bike. They were patient, kind, and supportive. Their knowledge and expertise were substantial, and their passion and energy were contagious. Many of the staff are BIPOC, trans, queer, or disabled, and they worked tirelessly to foster a sense of community among the staff and with all visitors and participants. The staff truly embodied the mission of C4C. For all of that, thank you.

Many variables came to a head in early November. As a result of the dire financial situation, immediate action was taken in the form of laying off most staff. While the board acted to ensure that these staff members would not work hours for which they could not be paid, we recognize that the layoffs had very adverse effects on their livelihood. We were unable to provide warning or severance. And we took far too long to connect with staff again after the layoffs. We apologize.

After ceasing operations and laying off staff, the board assumed management of the organization. The board, which is all volunteer, had not until this point been involved with operations. We apologize for the time we took to become familiar with and act on operational issues. 

A majority of the activity has revolved around legal and financial obligations. First and foremost, since C4C had defaulted on its bank loan, the bank had frozen all C4C assets. We could not pay anyone until the bank was paid. The loan was paid off in December through generous support of an anonymous donor. After paying off the bank loan, attention shifted to accounts payable, which included: payroll, payroll taxes, accounting services, utilities, software rental, contracting services, rent, etc. Priority was placed on payroll owed to two employees who worked well into November, taxes, and accounting services; we are still in the process of addressing all business expenses. We continue to monitor accounts payable and have been negotiating with vendors wherever possible. After the December 17 community meeting, we suspended all new fundraising until and if next steps are determined.

A sincere thank you goes out to C4C’s landlord, Seward Redesign. Their willingness to work with and support C4C has been invaluable. We also express heartfelt gratitude to Voices for Racial Justice, who has been flexible in overdue payments for the office space rental. We also want to thank other vendors for their support, flexibility, and understanding.

While the priorities have been to address the financial situation, not enough attention was focused on outreach and communication to the staff and community.

A sincere apology goes out to Grease Rag. The Grease Rag organization and community were strong partners with Cycles for Change. The board failed to actively engage and update them throughout this process. As an organization led by and for FTW cyclists, they also truly embody the mission of C4C. 

It was clear from the December 17 community meeting that trust in the C4C board is strained among many community members. We thank everyone for voicing their feelings, ideas, hopes and concerns. The board is taking all comments and concerns into consideration while figuring out viable next steps. 

It was also clear from the meeting that community members value greatly the contributions of C4C to the community, including open shop, adult learn-to-ride classes, and the welcoming environment within the shop and programs. Cycles for Change has filled a much-needed niche in the bicycling community by engaging diverse communities. As noted, successful community engagement has been due to the efforts of the staff and partners. 

Over the past year and more, the board has worked with C4C staff leadership to try to find a viable business plan that would address the loss of major, ongoing funding sources. We approved a 2019 budget that called for increasing shop sales and individual giving and raising targeted grant and contract support. That plan did not work. We now recognize that we should also have involved the full staff and community in the process. 

The board is committed to seeking community input about next steps for Cycles for Change, including:

  1. The shop. We heard at the December meeting that the shop is a vital gathering place not only for customers and open shop participants but also the community as a whole. Yet, shop sales did not pay for the cost of operations. 
  2. The future of C4C programs. To what degree can we transition or transfer open shop and adult learn to ride classes to other willing program partners? 
  3. The future of C4C as an organization and ensuring resources are reinvested into the C4C community. 

The board is organizing another community meeting on January 7 to provide updates and invite input about options going forward. See details below for a community meeting:

  • Tuesday, January 7, 2020, 6:30 pm-8 pm
  • Matthews Recreation Center
  • 2318 29th Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55406

Comments can also be submitted to [email protected]

We appreciate the feedback that you have contributed via the community meeting, on social media, and by email. Additionally, we ask for your assistance in forwarding this information to anyone who may not have access to it electronically. We continue to believe in and support the mission of working to build a diverse and empowered community of bicyclists. 

Sincerely,

C4C board