Partner Spotlight: Kiwanis Bike Program - The Heart of Reno Cycling

Kiwanis Bike Program's Roger Jacobson teaching Bike Like a Girl campers about bikes.  

Kiwanis Bike Program's Roger Jacobson teaching Bike Like a Girl campers about bikes.  

By Sherrill St. Germain

At the core of Bike Like a Girl are our girls cycling camps. Since their launch in 2015, the camps have introduced the joy of cycling to 50+ girls ages 8 to 12 in three communities. For this, we owe a debt of gratitude to partner Kiwanis Bike Program (KBP), which has been instrumental in helping us get this program off the ground.

A service committee of the Kiwanis Club of Downtown Sparks, the non-profit KBP teaches bike safety and repair, and donates the majority of bikes they refurbish to local youth organizations. They also put on bike rodeos for kids at area elementary schools. 

“We consider ourselves a bicycling education service,” explains Ellen Jacobson who, with husband Roger, is the driving force behind KBP. “We partner with other community resources to get wheels under kids.”  Indeed, they will give away about 1000 bikes this year!

In Perfect Tandem  

So when Bike Like A Girl wanted to host our first girls camp in fall 2015, we turned to the experts at KBP for help. And boy, did they deliver! They provided the tools and equipment needed to pilot the camp. They shared their hard-earned experience about how to structure kids’ bike programs for maximum learning, safety, and fun.

Roger Jacobson himself was a key participant in the first session of the pilot camp, and has been at every Reno camp since.  He's the guy behind the ABC Quick Check and “2 V 1,” important bicycle and helmet safety lessons. He also gets into the “nuts and bolts” of bikes, ensuring campers’ rides are in proper working order. And he does it all while exuding a love for the bike that inspires campers and camp coaches alike.

“They pour their heart and soul into the program and really love teaching kids about cycling,” observes Heidi Littenberg, Bike Like A Girl board member and camp coach.

Hub of Reno Cycling Community

But Bike Like A Girl campers are hardly the only beneficiaries of KBP’s generosity, skills, and resources. The seed for the program was planted as far back as the early 1990’s when Ellen and Roger became aware of Bikes for Tykes, a Reno area initiative at that time. 

The Kiwanis Bike Program was born as they found themselves called to do more to get kids on bikes. As demand for the program’s bike repair and riding services grew, so did bike storage needs, eventually outgrowing their garage in 2000. Since setting up at the current location (their fourth!) in 2013, they have added many additional services bringing innovative cycling programs to a wide range of constituents. 

Let’s Show ‘Em Some Love

With all they've done for Bike Like A Girl campers and the rest of the Reno/Sparks cycling community, it's hard to imagine an organization more deserving of our support than the Kiwanis Bike Program.  So when word spread this spring that they had been the victim of theft in the amount of $3000 worth of bike tools, the initial reaction was shock, sadness, and anger. But that quickly shifted to action, as the community rallied around them to ensure they had the funding needed to keep rolling along.  

So the Kiwanis Bike Program continues to thrive. Still, ongoing operations of this magnitude require ongoing resources. We invite you to join Bike Like A Girl in supporting this cornerstone of the Reno/Sparks cycling community.  Here’s how:

At Bike Like A Girl, we couldn't be more honored and grateful to call the Kiwanis Bike Program a partner, and we look forward to working with them for years to come!

Sherrill St. Germain, Bike Like a Girl Director and Blog Editor, is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance. A former fee-only planner, she brings a decade of financial planning experience to content she develops for financial professionals, organizations, publications, and her blog