Did you know that May is National Bike Month? Did you also know that, according to the 2015 DataHaven Community Wellbeing Survey, 21% of Hartford residents and 5% of suburban residents never or almost never have access to a car? Biking is making big news - with bike share wars heating up in Boston and the announcement that bike sharing will soon be coming to Hartford, visibility, availability and financial support of biking programs in the Greater Hartford area has increased, much to the delight of biking enthusiasts in the region. The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving has been a strong supporter of bike- and transit-focused initiatives, and the Center for Latino Progress (CLP) has been one of its partners, receiving $519,772 in transit-related grants since 2015.
The Center for Latino Progress offers culturally competent services and programs that foster individual and community growth, and creates economic opportunities for all. They specialize in providing cost-effective programs to the marginalized and disadvantaged residents of Hartford and neighboring communities through two programs: BiCi Co. (Bicicleta y Comunidad) and Transport Hartford Academy (THA).
BiCi Co. is an innovative social enterprise that promotes alternative transportation, real-world training, and new economic opportunities for local residents by improving access to jobs as well as healthy and eco-friendly mobility. In 2015, with the assistance of a $20,000 grant from the Hartford Foundation’s Latino Endowment Fund, CLP created a community bike shop, located at 95-97 Park Street, that not only offers youth programming, but also addresses multiple community needs. The BiCi Co. program brings bicycles, sustainable transportation, bicycle safety training, youth programs, mechanics classes, jobs access, and job training to the City of Hartford.
The Foundation continued its support of BiCi Co.’s efforts with a three-year grant in 2016 totaling $250,000. CLP’s Bicycles for Healthy Jobs Access program, a program that works with area shelters, jobs programs and transition homes, has also received $13,000 from three of the Foundation’s Donor Advised Funds: $10,000 from the Stanley D. and Hinda N. Fisher Fund, $500 from the Alison and Nathaniel Howe Fund and $2,500 from the S. A. Johnson Family Fund.
As part of BiCi Co.’s programming, CLP recently hosted an event called BIKE LIFE – Hartford!, a week-long youth development program featuring bike safety seminars and bike maintenance classes throughout the city of Hartford during Spring Break week. BIKE LIFE – Hartford! served roughly 60 teens between the ages of 10 and 19 and the program culminated with a bicycle festival in Heaven Skate Park on Saturday, April 16. Teens who completed the bicycle maintenance and safety course received a free up-cycled bicycle with helmet, lights, and a lock. According to 14-year-old Erica, “I had a bike but it was stolen and I had to wait a long time to get a new one. With BiCi Co. giving me a bike it will be easier for me to get around because I live too close to school to take the bus but I live too far to walk. Having a bike will help me get exercise to get ready for soccer season and will help me get to school on time so I’m not tardy and can learn more.” Click here to watch a video from the BIKE LIFE – Hartford! event.
In addition to CLP’s biking initiatives, in 2016 the Hartford Foundation awarded $102,449 for them to create a transit academy model for the Greater Hartford region. CLP’s Transport Hartford Academy educates residents in the region who are passionate about biking, walking, transit, and multi-modal transportation. With the transportation changes in the Hartford region (the I-84 highway redesign and the CT FasTrak expansion), the Transport Hartford Academy deepens resident engagement and creates a cohort of active and informed residents who provide input into the future transportation developments in the Hartford region. The Foundation recently awarded the Center for Latino Progress another two-year grant of $134,323 to continue to engage the community in seminars and panel discussions with local and regional experts and to actively involve citizens to build a constituency for issues related to transit.
“The Hartford Foundation is proud to support efforts to promote resident and community engagement to ensure that residents’ voices are heard when decisions are being made that will impact their communities,” said Yvette Bello, senior community investments officer at the Hartford Foundation. “The Transport Hartford Academy project builds on the ongoing transit focused work that the Center for Latino Progress is already involved in and creates a space where residents can learn about and in engage in the region’s transit projects.”
The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for Hartford and 28 surrounding communities. Made possible by the gifts of generous individuals, families and organizations, the Foundation has awarded grants of more than $720 million since its founding in 1925. For more information about the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, visit www.hfpg.org or call 860-548-1888.