Bikes Not Bombs uses the bicycle as a vehicle for social change.We reclaim thousands of bicycles each year. We create local and global programs that provide skill development, jobs, and sustainable transportation. Our programs mobilize youth and adults to be leaders in community transformation.
Bikes Not Bombs is a 32-year-old community organization in Jamaica Plain that takes in between 5,000 and 6,000 donated bikes each year and re-uses them in innovative youth programs, international development projects, and its retail shop/vocational training center. More than 3,000 young people have participated in Bikes Not Bombs' youth leadership and cycling programs, which teach mechanics and safe urban riding, and develop critical job skills. Bikes Not Bombs operates a full-service bike shop, which serves as a training center for local teen graduates of BNB's training programs. Each year we refurbish and resell approximately 1,000 donated bikes, getting them back on the road where they belong.
The organization began in 1984 as an environmentally conscious campaign in support of the people of Nicaragua. It was in 1990 that BNB started to pursue its mission on a local level by establishing youth programming in Boston. Bikes Not Bombs now offers six unique, high-quality Youth Programs through which we have reached more than 2,750 area youth. Our programs, which make up our Leadership Development Pathway, build on young people's fascination with bicycles to reinforce academic learning, build critical thinking skills, provide employment training, cultivate leadership, and instill a commitment to environmental and social justice.
In the last year Bikes Not Bombs collected between 5,000 and 6,000 donated bicycles from Boston and Eastern Massachusetts. We shipped over 3,500 bicycles to our international partners in Guatemala, Nevis, Ghana and Tanzania. Through our Youth Programs BNB worked with almost 300 youth from low income communities in and around Boston, outfitting them with refurbished bicycles and all the skills necessary to maintain them. At our retail bike shop, we refurbished close to 1,000 bicycles, taking them out of the solid waste stream and putting them back on the road where they belong. In the coming year BNB aims to increase our bike collections to close to 7,000 bikes. We will build on our new international project in Nairobi, Kenya which is a network of bike shops focusing on building cycling in the city. And we will continue to run and expand our six youth programs, and aim to offer year-round, paid after school jobs to at least 30 teenagers while serving another 250-300 area youth.
Bikes Not Bombs five most pressing needs are financial support for our youth and international programs, general operating grants, donated bicycles to allow us to run our programs, in-kind donations of computer, art and office supplies and volunteers, especially for our annual Bike-A-Thon in June.
How lucky am I to be part of an organization that is working
to address so many issues I care deeply about like environmental and economic
justice, youth leadership, healthy communities and international development –
all with on-the-ground solutions that are focused on empowerment and rooted in
the strengths of our partners and participants.
Growing up, my bike gave me a sense of freedom and access to
many opportunities that would have otherwise been out of my reach. On a larger
scale, that is what we do here at Bikes Not Bombs – we are giving people the
tools and resources they need to have freedom, mobility and opportunity.
On a recent visit to our warehouse I saw 800 donated bikes
all sorted and ready to go. It was so wonderful to be there and think about the
new life these bikes would have supporting our youth and international
Each year we work with 300 youth from some of Boston’s
lowest income neighborhoods; to date more than 3,000 young people have
participated in our programs. Since 1984 we have sent more than 47,000 bikes to
partners in 14 countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa where they
are used as capital to establish micro-enterprises, turned into pedal-powered
machines that help rural farmers increase their productivity, used as
cargo-carrying bicycles to get to market, become part of an Earn-A-Bike program
like the one we have here in Boston, or simply used for transportation.
Just recently I attended one of our Earn-A-Bike programs in their
last sessions and watched as they finished their bikes and planned a
celebration for their families. During summer 2012 we shipped bikes to Sierra Leone for
the first time to support The Village Bicycle Project where they will be used
in a bicycle library for school-aged girls. There’s so much happening at BNB
all the time and so many ways that people can plug in and become a real part of
the effort. From raising much needed funds by riding in the Bike-A-Thon each
June, to attending a Volunteer Night or container loading of bikes going to our
international partners, to becoming trained by our youth instructors as an
adult instructor for our Earn-A-Bike program, there are so many ways you can
I have barely gotten started and I am already completely
humbled by the amazing amount of time and energy that so many people devote to
Bikes Not Bombs work. Volunteers, board members, youth participants and staff
give literally hundreds of hours to BNB’s work each day, week, month and year.
It is truly inspiring.
Jodi Sugerman-Brozan, Executive Director
Board Chair Statement
Bikes Not Bombs has been a large part of my life for nearly a decade. Like many people, I first got involved as a Wednesday Night volunteer. During that first Wednesday Night Volunteer Session I attended, I not only got my hands dirty working on some bikes, but was also inspired by the fact that these bikes, which would have been headed to the landfill, would instead be used as a vehicle for change in one of Bikes Not Bombs’ programs. Though I now spend more time in meetings and working with our amazing staff and volunteers, I have been hooked on Bikes Not Bombs ever since turning a wrench that first day.
Bikes Not Bombs has been around since 1984 and our programs, systems, and impact have steadily grown and improved over the years. In 2006, when I was still quite new to the Board of Directors, Bikes Not Bombs moved from our old location to a larger and more open space in the Brewery Complex in Jamaica Plain that allowed us to expand our capacity to run youth programs and add additional staff members. Our Bike Shop and Vocational Training Center also moved into a new home, just down the street. Our budget has more than doubled in recent years, as we continue to develop new programs, take on new international partners, increase enrollment in programs like Earn-A-Bike, and hire more teens to serve as instructors and role models in these programs. Our amazing base of grassroots supporters has enabled us to grow in this way, and we are deeply honored to have so many people contribute to Bikes Not Bombs each year. Our annual Bike-A-Thon has gone from raising $4,000 to $40,000 to over $140,000, and now includes an outdoor festival with live music, vendors, and other community organizations working to make a difference. Our staff has grown, our management structure has evolved, and our Board of Directors continues to play an important role in instituting policies and ensuring the overall financial health of the organization.
It is an honor and a joy to be part of an organization that has such a strong commitment to its principles, while at the same time offering concrete and practical programs that provide skill development, jobs, and sustainable transportation. In the coming year and beyond, I look forward to seeing Bikes Not Bombs continue to grow and I encourage you to visit our website, give us a call, or stop by one of our two locations in Jamaica Plain to find out how you can become part of the effort!
Scott Thomson, Board Chair