A New Approach to Job Re-Entry
Silicon Valley is home to innovation, enthusiasm and a population full of energy and appreciation for their good fortune and the quality of life this area provides them. But not everyone is as fortunate or able to enjoy the opportunities, rewards and lifestyle many of us have. Fortunately, there is an increasing awareness on the plight of a population who struggle to re-enter the workforce after being chronically unemployed, to find a position where they can earn a living wage or just strive to better themselves and support their families. Our clients are our neighbors who may have been homeless, are veterans readjusting to civilian life, are refugees entering the country, those who have completed recovery from addiction and other disadvantaged groups.
Community Cycles of California is taking a Silicon Valley approach with our non-profit social enterprise; we are applying innovation, energy, and our experience and good fortune “to raise the quality of life in our corner of the community” by offering a three-tiered, 12-month, program to obtain that new start and earn a living wage job while serving others less fortunate through our philanthropic programs.
The first step is vocational education. Ours is not just any trade school; we offer a whole-person approach to learning. Community Cycles provides a three-month vocational training program focused on all the components of
small business operations integrated with the support and social services needed for success. During training, students receive a stipend, so even during training they earn an income! Upon completion of training is tier two; nine months of transitional employment within Community Cycles’ social enterprise, a chain of bicycle retail and repair shops. During their work experience, students are exposed to all aspects of a small nonprofit business: operations, sales, marketing, accounting, inventory, purchasing, management, and because it is a bike shop, bike mechanics.
During their final three months in the program, tier three, students focus on the areas they find a strong interest in or affinity towards. Having nine months of exposure to everything from being an individual contributor to assisting in the management of a $250,000 nonprofit business, students will have an opportunity to find and concentrate on their passion or interest, a key step in preparing for a new career.
A fundamental ingredient in our program is the philanthropic work in which students participate in paying it forward. For each bicycle we sell or paid service we provide, Community Cycles will grant one bicycle or service, at no cost, to an individual in need. Persons in need of a bicycle may volunteer at any nonprofit, and upon completion of work, earn a certificate to claim their bicycle. Volunteering with
fellow nonprofits and partner organizations contributes to our belief that “raising the quality of life in our corner of the community” is a collaborative effort. By having clients pay it forward as volunteers, they in turn, support others in need in their community.
Our students also participate in and support our mobile service activities. Community Cycles is establishing an extensive program of safety and reliability repair clinics where any individual may receive free maintenance and repair to keep their bicycle, a primary mode of transportation for many, working safely and effectively.
Students will support the operation of Community Cycles and all its programs, side by side with Community Cycles staff, volunteers and clients, and have opportunities to engage in our larger Silicon Valley community. They have unique opportunities to be mentors and leaders. They are integral in building a growing nonprofit, retail and social service enterprise. Having experienced a variety of key roles, students will recognize how and why business decisions are made, and they will exit the program with an understanding of the intricacies of, and successfully navigate, the many moving pieces of business operations.
Upon completion of our 12-month program, Community Cycles of California graduates are ready to enter living-wage employment with real world business skills and experiences that are applicable in a variety of environments and enterprises. They can step into that “second first job” with the confidence, skills, and experience necessary to raise not only their own quality of life, but for their corner of the community as well.