2015 Accomplishments

Latino OutdoorsBikes for the World grew in quantity and quality in 2015. Numbers-wise, we expanded collections in the home Washington DC-Baltimore region. We also established satellite efforts in Pittsburgh, Charleston SC, and New York (Long Island), and shipped our first container from NY in October.

But we also focused on getting better at what we do. Improving the quality and value of bikes shipped, increasing the volume and value of spare parts included in each shipment, and obtaining good feedback from our partners were priorities.

We expanded our reach to four new partners, all in Africa: Morocco, Guinea-Bissau, Madagascar, and Cameroon. These new projects will help farmers produce and market more, health care workers to visit the sick and prevent illness, and students to attend school and study more.

Our bike collections, loading, and opportunities at our Northern Virginia warehouse brought families, friends, colleagues, and strangers together in service. By opening our doors to younger volunteers this year we enabled families to serve together, building strong relationships while making a global humanitarian and environmental impact.

Collection Highlights

Rotary Club of Carroll CreekRotary Club of Carroll Creek- Top bike collection 2015

In 2015 Bikes for the World supported community-led collections at nearly 100 different locations in nine states. These collections utilized the expertise of hundreds of volunteers, representing service clubs, faith communities, schools, scout troops, and many, many others. BfW saw an increase in bike donations at these events, bringing in close to 5,000 bikes. Collections in 2015 provided almost 50% of our total for the year, the highest percentage contributed by such events in five years. Thirteen of our collection events netted over 100 bikes apiece. During one overwhelming weekend in April, our warehouse took in over 700 bikes, fed by impressive collections at Hagerstown MD's Otterbein United Methodist Church, Kent Island's Boy Scout Troop 495, and a student-led drive at West Virginia's Jefferson High School.

The Rotary Club of Carroll Creek (Frederick MD) was our outstanding single collection sponsor in 2015.

This year's drive was the club's tenth as a Bikes for the World partner, and set a new club record collecting 305 bikes. The project team, led by Rotarians Richard Foot and Jean-Louis Lepage, and including Norm Birzer, Pat Gunnin, Greg Light, and George Thomas, is one reason for the event's success. Another engine for success is the partnerships the club has developed with the local education, business, and faith communities, including The Visitation Academy, Frederick Community College, The Bicycle Escape, Wheelbase, Reliable Recycling, Custom Imprints, and Triangle Motors. Throughout the year the Rotary Club accepts bicycles at Custom Imprints in downtown Frederick, and stores them in a vacant dairy barn in Adamstown, where the bicycles are prepped for overseas shipment.

Empowering Youth

Girl Scout Troop 1999Girl Scout Troop 1999 works to complete their Bronze Award requirements by collecting 130 bikes in Silver Spring

In 2015, Bikes for the World partnered at our warehouse and in the field with a dozen new schools, 16 Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, and dozens of individual student volunteers, bringing our mission into their classrooms, troop activities, and family lives. Their involvement in our work contributed to leadership development, green initiatives, and hundreds of service learning hours required for school graduation and service awards.

We collected 783 bikes through 13 collections organized and managed by students aged 13 to 17 years.

Some student leaders were tasked, among other responsibilities, with attending government meetings to secure a collection site, conducting a live interview on tv, fundraising, training and managing peers, organizing transportation of over 100 bikes, and securing temporary storage for bikes. We supported another eight Boy Scouts doing bike collections as their community service project required for the Eagle rank, and eight Girl Scout troops doing collections or prepping and/or loading bikes at our Arlington warehouse.

Continental Expansion

collecting bikes in canadaBob Evans leads a team of students from Sir Wilfrid Laurier Collegiate Institute in Ontario expanding our effort into Canada

We made progress in expanding our network throughout North America, establishing satellite operations in New York, Pittsburgh, and the Carolinas, where we collect bikes and have long-term storage space. We shipped our first container, holding 240 bikes and more than 1,240 cubic feet of spare parts, from NY in October. We want to express particular thanks to our area coordinators or lead local supporters: Larry Silverman (Roslyn NY), Evan McDonnell (Pittsburgh), and Paul Keefer (Charleston). Such sustained expansion has only been possible owing to the generous in-kind support (storage space) provided by Kos Holdings (Long Island NY), City Center Self Storage (Pittsburgh), and Premier Logistics Solutions (Charleston SC). In addition, Mini Price Storage provided short-term storage in support of our summer collections in Richmond VA.

We helped place 33 containers holding over 15,500 bikes with 15 qualified groups around the world.

Bikes for the World was responsible for placing containers on behalf of sister organizations elsewhere-- BWorks (St Louis), Working Bikes (Chicago), District A9 of Lions International (Tiverton, Ontario, Canada), and a Bicycles for Humanity group outside Madison WI.

Loading Highlights

Stone Ridge Social ImpactStone Ridge Social Action crew joined us in the spring and fall to help load six containers and recover thousands of usable parts

Of the 33 containers dispatched in 2015, 18 came out of our busy Northern Virginia warehouse and another 7 shipments at 3 other sites were directly handled or closely guided by Bikes for the World personnel. In our warehouses, volunteers took on expanded roles in sorting and prepping bikes, culling and stripping marginal bikes for usable parts, and loading bikes. The increased supply of spare parts complemented the improvements in providing appropriate bicycles and dramatically increased the value of shipments.

In all, Bikes for the World directly collected, organized and loaded 11,500 bikes in 2015.

In Virginia we were joined in the warehouse by two dozen different loading groups and many individual volunteers and families. CEB provided three crews on three separate days enabling us to ship two containers in one week. Reed Technology partially loaded two containers in one day, for new partners in Guinea-Bissau and Madagascar. Most significant was our continuing partnership with students from the Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart.

Other Sources of Bikes and partsGeorgetown UniversityBikes for the World received bikes from 6 universities in 2015, seen here at Georgetown University

We source more than half of our bikes through sources other than our community-led collections. These traditionally include local bicycle retailers, many of whom serve as on-going drop-off sites for the donating public, and institutions holding abandoned bicycles, including multi-family buildings, police, universities, and waste transfer stations/recycling centers. Youth-centric earn-a-bike programs routinely donate excess parts and bikes to our overseas efforts.

We collected over 6,000 bikes and thousands of used parts from these 'other' sources in 2015.

Bikes shops in particular grew in 2015, to 2,500 bikes, up 25% from 2,000 the previous year. Pick-ups of abandoned bikes from the police and other security services was also up, over 120 bikes. We continued our relationship with Motivate, which operates bikeshare programs in NY and DC, to repurpose thousands of used parts removed from their program.

Projects We Support Overseas: HealthHealth kidsPhoto courtesy: Maji Mazuri- recipient partner through BfW partner Wheels of Africa

Less than half of all Africans have access to modern medical facilities and many live more than four miles from a health facility. The lack of affordable transportation has a direct impact on the quality of life for the poor. Two thirds of villagers travel by foot, many spending hours a day walking to clean water sources, markets, and health care clinics. Bikes give mothers access to clinics encouraging them to seek treatment and vaccines for their newborns and young children. Receiving prenatal and postnatal care is critical to keep mothers and their children healthy and entire villages safe from disease.

Projects with a health focus or component which were supported in 2015 include:

  • ONG Lalana - Madagascar. We shipped two containers (900+ bikes) to this new partner, for the provision of affordable transport to volunteer community health workers formerly walking hours and hours from household to household in rural areas.
  • Wheels of Africa - Kenya. WOA received five containers in 2015, making it one of our largest recipients of bikes. The abysmal health conditions and lack of accessible health services in the burgeoning slums on the outskirts of Nairobi potentially make bicycles an important tool in combating unhealthy living conditions, disease, and injuries.
  • Ability Bikes - Ghana. We provided two containers to this employee-owned business, which in employing individuals with physical disabilities, not only provides them with income, but demonstrates to society that the disabled can be productive. Our last shipment also included wheelchairs, crutches, and canes for the wider disabled community.

Projects we support overseas: Farming

Farmer cottonPhoto Courtesy: Village Bicycle Project- Kwame is a cotton farmer who uses his bike to travel between farms he manages

Seventy-five percent of the world's poorest people are subsistence farmers living in rural areas. Poverty, civil unrest, and lack of access to credit or markets combine to inhibit small farmers from producing more or more-profitable crops. Bikes help change that statistic. They allow farmers to travel four times faster, enabling them to cover greater distances and cultivate land further from their homes and markets. Farmers are also able to carry four times as much produce to sell, which also dramatically increases income.

Projects with an agricultural focus or component which were supported in 2015 include:

  • Global Fairness Initiative - Guinea-Bissau - This new project received 423 bikes to support the local economy and agriculture in two ways: selling bikes inexpensively to farmers and other residents, and generating funds for the project's micro-loan fund to lend to local farmers to increase their production.
  • Fundacion Integral Campesina - Costa Rica. FINCA Costa Rica is a micro-credit program promoting savings and credit in the rural periphery of the country. Its "Mi Bici" program received 1,996 bicycles from Bikes for the World during the year. Participating savings and loan associations recondition and sell the bicycles locally and reinvest the net profits in their micro-credit fund.
  • Village Bicycle Project - Ghana. VBP brings affordable bicycles into rural villages, principally through weekend training and sale events in coordination with Peace Corp volunteers. The villagers learn how to do basic bike repairs and how to ride a bike safely. At the end of the workshop the VBP team sell the bikes at about one third of market price. In 2015, Bikes for the World provided one shipment holding 470 bicycles.

Projects we support overseas: Education

Students PhilippinesPhoto Courtesy: Bikes for the Philippines. Students of St. Nino-Baloc Elementary School, some of our youngest beneficiaries

Many students walk between 3 and 8 miles a day back and forth to school. Some children spend nearly four hours of their day commuting to classes and arrive to school exhausted with barely enough energy for studies. As a result many students fall behind in their school work or drop out of school. Bicycles are essential to a child's education in many rural communities around the world. Bikes enable students to travel safely to school four times faster, saving them time and energy.

  • Bikes for the Philippines - Philippines. We shipped one container of bikes to this project in 2015. With our support, BfP added four new school districts to the program and are positioned to add half a dozen or more in 2016.
  • Darna - Morocco. This is a new project for BfW. An initial container of 413 bikes arrived this summer and were distributed to four rural school districts in northern Morocco.
  • Village Bicycle Project - Sierra Leone. After shutting down during the Ebola crisis, Village Bicycle Project/Sierra Leone reopened operations this past spring. In October, BfW shipped a mixed container of bikes and parts from our newest location in New York. VBP taught 2,000 (mostly female) students to ride in Ghana and Sierra Leone in 2015.

many thanks to corporate supporters

KendaKenda Tire donates new tires to community in Turrialba Costa Rica

We had many supporters in the business community. Besides the bicycle retailers mentioned elsewhere who accept donations on our behalf, the following deserve special mention:

Financial News
Johnson Lambert

Money-wise, we broke even in 2015, a significant accomplishment, as we increased expenditures to support efforts in other parts of North America and ship more bikes. To compensate, individual donors, especially our growing cadre of Sustaining Members who contribute monthly, increased their support dramatically—by nearly a third.

Starley Award recipient: Johnson Lambert LLP

We also improved the use of the funds entrusted to us. A key factor was the assistance provided by our pro bono auditor, Johnson Lambert LLP. More than simply making sure that our donors' resources have been properly stewarded, the team's assistance has enabled us to improve our operational efficiency and effectiveness through better financial management and compliance with federal and local jurisdiction. For outstanding service on our audit and IRS returns over the last three years, Bikes for the World presented Johnson Lambert LLP with its annual Starley Award.


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