We’ve built up one of the baddest Midnight Specials to date to raise some money for a great cause. If you win, you’ll choose your frame size and it’ll be built up with components from our co-conspirators at SRAM, Whisky Parts Co., and elsewhere. It’s quite a steal.
More important than what you might get for a $5 donation, however, is where those funds will go if you enter. All 500 pennies from your piggy bank will directly support Full Cycle, a social enterprise bicycle recyclery in South Minneapolis. If you choose to donate more, Full Cycle gets more money and you get more entries. The possibilities are endless.
Click the link below to enter to win this custom built Midnight Special then grab your beverage of choice and read on to learn what your money will be supporting
Located at 3515 Chicago Avenue, just blocks from George Floyd Square, Full Cycle supports young people experiencing homelessness with training and meaningful work in street outreach, food delivery, and bike repair. They also connect them with free bikes for transportation, reliable calories, shelter, people who care about them, and the professional skills they’ll need to land other jobs down the road — phone skills, resume skills, interview skills. The whole deal.
For a chance at winning a capable Chromoly steel vehicle for the price of a footlong meatball sub, you can enter here. Note: If you’re unable to throw money in the hat, you can still enter to win. See Official Rules for details.
If you’re curious how your donation will benefit Full Cycle and the community they’re a part of, let’s hear from Founder and Director Matt Tennant himself.
Hey Matt, can you tell us what Full Cycle’s up to?
We’re at 35th and Chicago, very much South Minneapolis. I like the term hyperlocal — we’re really invested in helping those who immediately surround us. Our neighbors, our families, our business owners. Day to day, we run a non-profit bike recyclery where we provide mid to high-quality used bikes, repair services, and support for the neighborhood.
But what we’re really good at — what our mission is — is to connect with and support homeless youth, our community, and mother earth, through bikes, business, and relationships.
Side Note from Brendan, Your Narrator: Matt thinks that earth piece is a little corny, but let’s call it like it is — the planet has a slightly elevated temperature and it’s not like it can pop a couple Tylenol and wash ‘em down with a capri sun. Riding a bike is a helpful alternative. Anyway, back to Matt.
Any youth experiencing homelessness can call up, do a simple phone intake, and then come in for an hour-long free bike appointment. They work on a bike with one of our outreach workers, and they walk out with a bike and a lock. They get a helmet and lights if they want it. That’s how we do intake. Bring them in to work on a bike, ask them what’s going on, and connect them with more help if they’re interested. If they don’t want the help, at least we solved the transportation issue.
And what do you do if they want or need additional help?
One way we do that is by providing employment opportunities. This year we started a new youth employment position — a peer outreach apprenticeship. It allows us to hire a young person who’s interested in learning the skills [needed] to become a street outreach worker. They go through a rigorous training and work with us for a year, connecting kids on the street with Full Cycle, getting them into a shelter, helping them with mental health or substance abuse — whatever they can do. They walk around with these big green messenger bags and hand out condoms, food, and bus tokens, just offering something helpful and building those relationships. After that year is up, we connect them with more long-term employment opportunities.
We also have a youth mechanic. They complete a six-month [paid] training program during the fall and winter. And during the summer months we do our food delivery program, which allows us to hire four or five youths to deliver food twice a week.
When a young person is looking to work at Full Cycle, they can focus on mechanics, food delivery, or outreach. Technically a kid could do all three, flowing from one to the next and working with us for a couple years.
Why is Full Cycle collecting and distributing food?
Back when I was figuring out Full Cycle’s model [Ed. Note: Full Cycle opened in 2008], I learned there were a ton of requirements for young people to access food. As outreach workers we were making these really horrible referrals because we didn’t know the system well enough. And so these kids were showing up at the food shelves and being asked for an ID, a social security card, and proof of address — in order to get food. Kids would come back and tell us it sucked. “You told us to go to this place and they told us no ‘cause we didn’t have ID.”
And that’s when I started working on how to make food more accessible for homeless youth and started Groveland Food for Youth. Eventually we took the work we were doing with the food shelf and combined it with bikes, and three or four years ago the bike shop started delivering food. And that was awesome — it was another opportunity to employ and pay young people, to put them on a bike.
Another Note from your Narrator, Brendan: I joined the food-delivery crew on my Cross-Check awhile back and watched them haul trailers loaded down with coolers behind their Big Easys. Summer, winter, uphill, around traffic — there’s nothing easy about this job, and they’re helping feed people just as hungry as they are. I’ve been taking it for granted that I’m able to drive to the grocery store to fill up my fridge with giant heads of broccoli.
Who’s helping Full Cycle make the food program work?
Over the past two summers, Pillsbury United Communities has focused time and resources on these local food systems. They’ve started a bunch of urban farms around the city, and they’ve opened up a full-on grocery store on the North Side. It’s called North Market, located right by Weber Park.
I got to know the farmer who was growing the food and asked if we could deliver it for him by bike, and they were receptive because their whole mission was to be carbon neutral or carbon negative. Bikes were the missing piece. So we do one shift a week delivering food to transitional living programs for youth, and one shift distributing food from the farms to the grocery store over north.
We work very closely with Groveland Emergency Food Shelf, delivering their food. We also pick up donations from Turtle Bread. We partner with three local transitional living programs where we drop the food for free on a weekly basis, and we’ve received funding over the years from the Seward Coop’s Friendship Store.
And there’s Matter, too. They’re a company that makes these little health-based snack packs. Soy nut butter. Goldfish crackers. Beef jerky. Fruit strips. Healthier snacks that we can hand out.
How will the money help Full Cycle?
Over the last couple years, we have had some struggles. The business model, the neighborhood, the civil unrest — there have been some huge challenges and we’ve managed to show up and do the work every day.
We have a budgeted deficit this year, so any money we raise will be hugely appreciated, and we’ll use it to supplement the youth salaries, first and foremost. Staff wages come next. We did get lucky with some COVID money last year, which allowed us to buy Big Easys and the trailers for food delivery, as well as some gear. But stuff wears out and will need to be repaired or replaced, so it’s helpful to have some money available for that.
OK if you've made it this far and you're ready to throw your helmet in the ring to win this amazing bike for a good cause, smash the link below and be one step closer to steel nirvana.
How can folks help Full Cycle outside of the contest?
The most helpful volunteers are people who know how to wrench on bikes. We make time for people we know to come in and volunteer their skills and energy that way. And anyone who has stuff they can pass our way — bikes, gear, accessories — that’s how we run our business. We depend on those donations. If you’re willing to share what you have when you’re done with it, or even write a check, we’d love to have it.
Thanks for sharing your time and words with us, Matt! For the rest of you: You can enter to win that Midnight Special here [insert link to contest page]. If it doesn’t work out this time, stay tuned for another giveaway down the road. Finally, if you’d like to volunteer your time as a mechanic or donate some money or gear to Full Cycle, you can get in touch with them on the worldwide web.