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:
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.