I feel a little bit behind being that many folks start posting their 2012 ‘year in reviews’ before 2012 is even over!  2013 has only been going for a few days, so I feel as if it is still a good time to look back.  Especially as I am getting ready for a major fundraiser this Sunday I gotta tell you why we are fundraising.  So lets look back at what has been done first.

Donation dollars go pretty far, but they go even farther with a volunteer base.  Many organizations put a dollar amount on the volunteer hours donated to them.  Such a tall order because volunteers are worth quite a bit.  Putting a dollar amount on that is no easy task.  Lets take a look at our volunteering…


So every month we’ve had more than 50 people putting in over 150 hours!  Not too shabby really.  Looking back at last years data suggests that volunteering has increased slightly here.  Though, there isn’t a stark contrast between the summer and winter.  Sure there is a difference, but our volunteers have been helping out doing what we do year round pretty consistently.  This is great!
April and May were our biggest months though.  In May we had 44 people put in 102 hours of volunteer work in one week.  Though May was the biggest month with 167 people putting in 371.5 hours.  In 2012 we averaged 3.7 people putting in 9 hours of work per day.  So that is 1382 people signing in doing 3322.5 hours of work.
Last year we valued volunteer labor at $8/hour.  So that is a $26,580 donation to the organization.  Thanks!

Youth Earn-a-Bike
This year we kept better data on our most important program.  Youth Earn-a-Bike (YEAB) sees many more kids show up to it than we can accept into the program, especially in the summer time.  Each year we try to increase the opportunities for youth to come work in our shop and fundraising this year will be devoted mostly to that goal.  2012 was our biggest year for YEAB yet.  So lets take a look at that…
YEAB2012That green line is the amount of hours youth put in working on bikes in the shop.  The green bars is the number of youth that worked in the shop each month.  The purple bars are the number of youth that showed up total including the youth we had to turn away because we didn’t have room in the program for them.
You’ll notice a jump in the numbers for June-August.  During those months we had scheduled groups of six youth coming to the shop on Tues-Thurs in the morning to work on bikes along with the year round Saturday hours we have.  Also, in the summer we started opening our doors at 11am instead of 12pm.  So each week saw 10 additional hours of our doors being open to youth.
You may also notice that January and December are the only two months where we didn’t turn youth away.  That means that February-November there were weeks where our workshop was full and we couldn’t take anymore youth.
Our busiest week was in July when we saw 46 youth come in (30 of those youth came in on Saturday alone).  That number includes the youth we had to turn away.  The biggest weeks we had youth working in our shop was in June and July.  During three different weeks we had 30 youth actually working in our shop each week.  In the month of June alone, including youth we had to turn away, we saw 165 youth.
As far as hours working on bikes, the biggest week was at the end of July where youth put in 88 hours working bikes.  July takes the cake for most youth working on bikes and hours with 109 youth working on bikes for 287 hours.
Cutting it down, in 2012, we averaged 1.5 youth working 4 hours/day.  In total 571 youth worked for 1445.5 hours.  This number impresses me much more than the number of bikes we got out because this number reflects when youth were creating relationships with others, learning skills and exercising those young minds of theirs.  These were the times when I got to see the ‘aha!’ moments happening in their eyes.  That is a lot of hours of education!
Oh and by the way…last year had only 920 hours of youth educational time.

Adult Mechanic Class
Speaking of educational hours, here is some more info with much less wording.  Our Adult Mechanic Class happens year round but is much less intense than our youth programming.  Though we see a good amount of adults wanting to learn how to fix bikes.  So this summer we offered the class two days a week as opposed to the one day we offer it year round.
AMC2012Can you guess which month we added the second class?  It was right there in May which brought our biggest week with 26 people coming to class over two days.  Though you can see that July again, being a really busy month with 69 people coming to class that month.  In 2012 we averaged 6.5 people coming to class each week, that’s a full workshop!

Bikes Out
Last but not least I want to update you on how many bikes we got underneath kids last year.  As you may have seen from other posts on this site, we’ve been keeping a count on the chalkboard at The Hub of Detroit bike shop.  It can be a really exciting number without much explanation.  But you know I’m long winded, so lets explain some more here.
Last year we got 322 bikes out to youth and for every bike sold at The Hub, Back Alley Bikes got two underneath youth for free.  As our funding continues to be predominantly from The Hub, the management team found ways to sell more bikes down there.  Due to the increased sales at the Hub we were able to expand our youth programming and still hire four Mechanic-in-Training students with only minimal grant support.  And even with with increased sales at The Hub, Back Alley Bikes still got more bikes out.  For every bikes sold at The Hub, Back Alley Bikes got 1 and 1/3 of a bike out to youth.  Sure that 1/3 of a bike is hard to ride, but it is good to know we are still producing.  And don’t forget, those bikes we get out come with those over 1,400 educational hours as well – we don’t always just hand the bikes out!
Though sometimes, we do hand bikes out.  There are a few ways Back Alley Bikes got bikes to youth this year:

  1. Bikes are earned by youth at Youth Earn-a-Bike: Youth aged 8-16 put in around 9 hours of work building a bicycle before they earn it.  169 bikes went out this way.
  2. Youth bike Give-a-Ways: Youth 7 and under aren’t quite ready for Youth Earn-a-Bike, but we have bikes their size!  So volunteers and staff build them up and we donate them to different social service organizations like foster care, schools, hospitals and head starts.  271 bikes went out this way.
  3. Partnering Organizations: Occasionally we see other earn-a-bikes start up that need our assistance.  This year a program in Osborn, Mount Elliot Makerspace and City Year all requested bicycles from us.  Because the program in Osborn had grant money we did sell those bikes to the program, but they all ended up underneath youth who earned them free of charge.  62 bikes went out this way.


Our highest week for getting bikes out came in December at 53 bikes.  December was also our busiest month getting 121 bikes out to youth.  Most of these were for those youth younger than 7 years old in Give-a-Ways.  Though, July should get in honorable mention with 110 bikes going out that month.
Overall there were 502 bikes that went out in 2012.  That is 1.4 bikes per day throughout 2012.

So what can I say in summary?  There are a lot of us working together to get kids on bikes year round.  And not only do we get kids on bikes, but we provide a space for them to come together and learn in a hands on environment.  I didn’t even go over our Mechanic-in-Training or Youth Rides! programs.
Working here is really fun.  So thanks for everyone that helps make this happen.  Here’s to 2013!!!!


– jason x