Trailer enables mentoring through community bike repair clinics and rides in Dunbar, bringing together law enforcement, the community and at-risk youth to build mutual respect and understanding
As part of its $300,000 grant to the FutureMakers Coalition, the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation has funded $5,890 to the iWill Mentorship Foundation (IWMF), a FutureMakers Coalition partner, for the purchase of an industrial trailer for transportation of youth bikes for community bike rides and bike repair clinics within the Fort Myers neighborhoods with at-risk youth.
The IWMF is teaming up with the Fort Myers Police Department, community youth organizations and local churches to promote prevention of violence and unity of the community.
Under community bike ride and bike repair clinics scheduled throughout the end of the year, IWMF is reconditioning used bicycles for local youth to ride along with Fort Myers police officers on bike patrol in their neighborhoods.
“The highly visible but friendly law enforcement presence in at-risk communities provides a healthy atmosphere where youth can spend evening hours with officers, building positive relationships and respect,” said Jesse Bryson, president of the IWMF.
According to Bryson, the trailer was an essential piece to IWMF’s plan so that it can secure the bicycles and transport them easily to the neighborhoods, helping to better engage with the youth.
During the clinics, teens will work alongside mentors learning how to recondition the used bikes as well as be exposed to several career opportunities. Unbeknownst to the teens, at the end of the program, the repaired bikes will be given as gifts to those youth in need.
“This trailer donation was an easy decision for us,” said Mary Beth Geier, Florida region coordinator of the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation. “It’s not about the trailer but about what the trailer does – it helps this group of mentors get to work impacting the neighborhoods and communities they wish to serve.”
The IWMF is working in the Dunbar community to build skills, aspirations, community trust and engagement among the youth residing there in hopes of connecting the them with mentors and law enforcement who will provide STEM skills and career exposure, according to Tessa LeSage, director of social innovation and sustainability for the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, the backbone organization for FutureMakers Coalition.
“This is grassroots FutureMakers work at its very finest,” LeSage said of the iWill Mentorship Foundation. “These FutureMakers partners saw the need and found a creative and effective way to fill it with high hopes of changing lives, reducing crime and establishing an opportunity to meet shared goals in their neighborhoods.”
LeSage said the program hopes additional parties will contribute to the effort by volunteering to assist with bike repairs, participating in a ride or becoming a sponsor.
“One-thousand dollars will sponsor bikes for 10 youth, and $3,000 will sponsor 30 bikes,” added Bryson.
Upcoming bike repair clinics are scheduled for Saturday, March 19, May 21, Aug. 20 and Dec. 10. All clinics will take place at Fort Myers Schwinn Cyclery, located at 3630 S. Cleveland Avenue in Fort Myers.
All community bike rides will take place on Wednesdays from 5 to 6 p.m. Upcoming rides are scheduled for March 23 at Mt. Olive AME Church, located at 2754 Orange Street in Fort Myers; May 25 at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, located 3105 Broadway in Fort Myers; Aug. 24 at Rosa De Saron Assembly of God, located at 13235 Palm Beach Boulevard in Fort Myers; and Dec. 14 at Good News Baptist Church of Pine Manor, located at 1650 Oak Drive in Fort Myers.
Last fall, the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation granted the FutureMakers Coalition $300,000. The grant, which is payable during the next three years, will help fund emerging programs and projects like iWill developed by the Coalition’s Regional Action Teams focused on the FutureMakers’ goal of increasing the number of Southwest Florida residents with high-quality degrees, certificates and other credentials to 40 percent by the year 2025.
The Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation was created in 2004 by Best Buy founder Dick Schulze, a Southwest Florida resident. It supports education, human services, health and medical research, and transformational entrepreneurship.
The FutureMakers Coalition is one of Lumina Foundation’s 75 national Community Partners in Attainment. Residents are encouraged to join and support this community-changing initiative. For more information, visit www.FutureMakersCoalition.com, call 239-274-5900 or email Tessa LeSage at [email protected].