project leader
Tim K
7800 Detroit Avenue
latest update rss
Sound of Ideas & Stretch Goal Reached!

the project

The single most important factor affecting social mobility in the United States today is physical mobility, i.e. a person’s ability to get from one location to another. In Northeast Ohio, we have designed a transportation system around and for automobile travel, and we have failed to provide options for people who cannot or do not want to rely on personal cars. Accordingly, many people in this region struggle to get around, whether to jobs, school, or recreational destinations, significantly limiting their personal freedom and ability to improve their lives and those of their families.

This particularly holds true for the 1,000 refugees moving into the region each year. Refugees can provide new life and serve as an economic driver for our region, but only if they are able to access opportunities. Most new refugees lack access to a car, and many struggle to get around on a public transportation system that continues to cut service and raise fares.

The Cleveland Refugee Bike Project will provide 50-100 of these refugees with a bike – an economic lifeline that can connect them to new employment, educational, and social opportunities in Northeast Ohio. By giving the participants the training and tools they need to learn how to bike safely around the region, the program will help them to build a new life in Cleveland and guarantee that the city benefits from all the assets they bring to the table.

the steps

We are looking to fund a one-year pilot program, launching officially in Spring 2017. Before the project officially launches, the project partners - Bike Cleveland, Catholic Charities Migration & Refugee Services, and the Ohio City Bicycle Co-Op - will work together to secure the necessary supplies and develop culturally appropriate training curricula to provide to participants.

In the spring, we will arrange for all participants to attend one of our bike safety and traffic skills courses, facilitated by the Ohio City Bicycle Co-Op. Each course will be culturally appropriate for the refugees participating, and all instructions - both written and verbal - will be available in English and the participants' preferred languages. Once participant complete these trainings, we will distribute bikes, helmets, locks, and lights to them.

Participants will be encouraged to take part in group bike rides and activities, including those during National Bike Month (May 2017). Participants will also encouraged to volunteer with Bike Cleveland and the Ohio City Bicycle Co-Op to learn more about biking safety, how to repair and maintain their bikes, and how to advocate for biking in Northeast Ohio. We hope that many of the refugees taking part in this pilot program will be able to share what they've learned with new refugees resettling in Cleveland and push to make the program permanent beyond 2017. 

why we're doing it

Approximately 1,000 refugees relocate to Cleveland each year. They can provide new life and serve as an economic driver for our region, but only if they are able to access opportunities. Most new refugees lack access to a car, and many struggle to get around on a public transportation system that continues to cut service and raise fares.

The Cleveland Refugee Bike Project will provide refugees with a bike – an economic lifeline that can connect them to new employment, educational, and social opportunities. We will also give participants the training and tools they need to learn how to safely bike around the region. In this way, the program will help them to build a new life in Cleveland and guarantee that the city benefits from all the assets they bring to the table.

The program meets a number of the goals outlined in the Cleveland Climate Action Plan. It will enhance the resiliency of refugees moving into the city, as well as the neighborhoods that they call home. The program will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve public health, by promoting active transportation for Cleveland's refugee community. Lastly, it will open up new opportunities for refugees in the region, helping Cleveland tap into their tremendous economic potential.


REVISED BUDGET (as of 11/14/16):

RAISED = $13,578.00
ioby Platform Fee  $35.00
Payment Processing Fee (3%) $394.46
TOTAL TO DISBURSE = $13,148.54
  • Program budget (Year 1): $12,600
  • Refurbished bikes for 100 refugees ($75 each): $7,500
  • Bike locks for 100 participants ($20 each): $2,000
  • Bike helmets for 100 participants ($15 each): $1,500
  • Translators & materials for for 4-hour trainings: $1,600



  • Refurbished bikes for at least 50 refugees ($75 each): $3,750
  • Bike locks for at least 50 participants ($20 each): $1,000
  • Bike helmets for at least 50 participants ($15 each): $750
  • Translators for 4-hour trainings: $500
  • Safe riding and bike maintenance education classes: $1,600

SUBTOTAL = $7,600
ioby Platform Fee $35
Donation Processing Fee of 3%  $228



Sound of Ideas & Stretch Goal Reached!

Good afternoon,

Yesterday, project partners Tim Kovach and Jim Sheehan (Ohio City Bicycle Co-Op) appeared on the WCPN program The Sound of Ideas. Check out the episode if you missed it live (starts at 38:40) to learn more and hear from Gentile Uwera, a Congolese refugee resettled through a separate resettlement agency, Us Together.

Additionally, as you may have noticed, we reached our stretch goal of $13,013! Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for your incredible support. We will be able to implement the program we had hoped for from day 1, and your donations will improve the lives of dozens of refugees in Cleveland. That said, we can always use more support if you're able. While we are providing each participant with a bike, helmet, light, lock, and training, there are many other items that they may need. Your donations can help participants purchase fenders, racks, panniers, inner tubes, patch kits, tire levers, pumps, bike tools, etc. Every dollar you contribute will make a difference, so please continue to support us if you can.

Lastly, we wanted to let you know about other ways you can help, in addition to your donations. While we will provide basic traffic skills training for the refugee participants, it takes time for people to become experienced cyclists, particularly in Cleveland. We welcome people to volunteer as bike mentors for the refugee participants. Mentors could help their mentees map out the safest route to get to work, ride with them until they feel comfortable, provide them with additional tips/pointers on riding skills and basic bike maintenance, etc.

We are also happy to accept donations of gently used, functional bicycles that could be fixed up and provided to participants. If you are interested in volunteering or donating bikes, please contact the Ohio City Bicycle Co-Op at

Climate Action Fund match & other updates

Good morning,

We have a lot of good news to share with you today. First, as you may have noticed from the page header or our Twitter account (@refugeebikesCLE), we learned last week that we received $5,000 in matching funds from the Cleveland Climate Action Fund. We could not have earned this grant without your support. The grant committee made its determinations based on a number of criteria, including the amount of money raised and the total number of supporters. Because so many people from around the region and even around the country have backed our work, we were able to secure the maximum match.

Second, our fundraiser at Platform on Thursday was a great success. Dozens of people showed up to drink some great beer, take part in the raffles, play bike tire bowling, and generally show their support for Cleveland's refugee community. We raised over $600, which is more than we had even anticipated.

Lastly, you will notice that the fundraising goal has increased from $7,863 to $13,013. We chose to up the goal due to your continued donations and the Climate Action Fund grant. If we are able to hit our new, stretch goal - and we're currently just $769 away - we will be able to double the size of the program from 50 refugee participants to 100. While that remains just a small portion of the roughly 1,000 refugees arriving in Cleveland each year, it is a great start and will pay dividends for the participants and Cleveland as a whole.

We continued to be wowed by your generosity. Now let's come together with one final push and get across that (new) finish line by Friday.

Fundraiser at Platform this Thursday

First off - we just crossed the halfway mark! Thank you to everyone who has contributed thus far for your generosity. We still have a long way to go before next Friday, but we have made considerable progress. We find out on Thursday if we get the matching funds from the Cleveland Climate Action Fund, so keep your fingers crossed and please keep sharing the word about the project and this fundraiser to your friends, family members, coworkers, acquaintances, etc. Every dollar helps.

Secondly - we're excited to announce that we are parterning with Platform Beer Co. to host a fundraiser at their brewpub this Thursday, November 10, from 4:00 to 8:00pm. During this period, Platform will donate $1 from every house beer sold to the Cleveland Refugee Bike Project. We are also raffling off gift baskets from Platform, the Ohio City Bicycle Co-Op, and Bike Cleveland, proceeds from which will also go to the project. Please vist the Facebook page, let us know if you can come, and share it across your various social media platforms. What better way to spend your evening than drinking some great local beer and supporting us in the process?

We've passed the one-third mark!


Thanks to your generous support, we are currently up to $2,841, which is 35% of our total goal. That we've come this far in just a week is remarkable and a testament to each of you. We still have a long way to go in order to hit our goal, but we are currently leading all other projects up for Climate Action Fund matching dollars in terms of money raised and percent of goal.

We will be on hand tomorrow at the last Bike to Work Day of 2016, so if you plan to attend or happen to be in the area of The Bike Rack between 7:00 and 9:00am tomorrow, stop by and say hello.

We've reached 10% of our goal!

As you (obviously) know, fundraising is now open for the Cleveland Refugee Bike Project. Fortunately, due to your generosity, we've already raised more than 10% of our total crowdfunding goal in less than 48 hours. Thank you so much for your support!

We're off to a great start, but we have a lot of work to do still. If you have already given, please consider spreading the word to your friends, family, colleagues, and acquaintances. We cannot get this project off the ground on our own, and each of you can - and already has - played an integral role in supporting it. It's also important to increase the total number of donors, as that ups our odds of securing up to $5,000 in matching funds from the Cleveland Climate Action Fund.

Let's hit our goal and help Cleveland's refugees get around safely and easily to ehance their economic and social opportunity!


- Tim Kovach


This is where photos will go once we build flickr integration


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