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Each month we spotlight a local nonprofit that's in need of help. It's a way to connect our listeners with charities that make an impact.

Get Involved Spotlight: Ghisallo Cycling Initiative

  From Ghisallo Cycling Initiative, this month's Get Involved spotlight non-profit:  

Mission and Vision

Our Vision:We envision a community where youth become expert cyclists who grow to become lifelong, safety­conscious riders.

Our Mission:Our primary mission is to develop youth who safely and expertly integrate bicycling into their daily lives, to teach participants self­sufficient cycling skills, and to facilitate the experience needed for youth cyclists to be peer leaders.

We expect to meet these objectives by:

●  teaching expert skills and knowledge to participants, so they may use their bicycles for transportation and recreation independent of adults

●  providing youth leadership opportunities, so participants can grow to become peer mentors, assistant instructors and paid staff

●  cultivating key institutional knowledge and economic opportunities to create self­sustaining cycling communities independent of us

Who we are

Ghisallo Cycling Initiative is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Austin, Texas. Since the spring of 2011 we have provided semester­long, after­school Bike Clubs with weekly bicycle maintenance and riding classes as well as an Earn­A­Bike program, Bicycle Rodeos, and maintenance and safety clinics. The majority of our participants are low­income, at ­risk students. Our goal is not only to provide Austin youth with supervised access to outdoor physical activity, but to help them develop into self­sufficient riders who have the skills and knowledge to use their bicycles for transportation without depending on adults.

We facilitate bicycle ownership for those who cannot afford it on their own and maintenance support for those who can. We strive to create a culture of positive peer mentorship and mutual support that fosters the development of leaders within social groups and communities. This has been demonstrated by our youth Ride Assistants, Shop Assistants, and Apprentice Mechanics, all of whom have grown within our various programs to become youth leaders during our classes.

Helpful Links:

Our Youth Services

Bike Club

Bike Clubs are after­school classes that teach riding, safety, and bicycle maintenance skills. Navigation and exploration are key focuses of the classes. In the spring of 2016 we provided over 40 hours a week of after­school programming to 20 sites across Austin.

Cycle Academy

Cycle Academy is a structured educational program geared toward youth cyclists concentrating on bicycle riding, safety, and maintenance skills. It focuses on hands­on learning, self­sufficiency, developing a healthy lifestyle by integrating bicycling into daily activities, and community service.

Bike Rodeo

A Bike Rodeo a youth skills clinic where participants learn basic riding and safety skills (bike control, stopping, obstacle avoidance, hand signals, and helmet fitting) and which may include a short, group ride.

Our Services are Data­Driven

●  2,148 students were served through Bike Rodeos in the 2015­’16 school year from 10 different schools. Of those who completed surveys (1,059):

○  77% owned bikes

○  54% owned helmets

○  90% learned the 5 steps to a Helmet Fit

○  91% learned the Power Pedal Position

○  83% learned Scanning

○  77% owned a bike, didn't own a helmet and planned to wear a helmet

○  82% learned/practiced new bike safety skills and planned on wearing a helmet

Bike Start

A Bike Start clinic is a learn to ride program utilizing balance bikes where participants learn basic steering and balancing skills and then graduate to a pedal bike to develop additional riding and safety skills. Riding a bicycle takes 3 skills: balance, steering and pedaling. Bike Start teaches these skills one at a time.

Bike Fix­A­Thon

A Bike Fix­A­Thon is a bicycle maintenance clinic where kids can bring their bikes to get a quick safety and maintenance check and get repairs depending on the supplies available.

Apprentice Program

The Apprentice Program provides instruction based on the Cycle Academy mechanical badge framework. During the 8­week program, students will learn and practice the skills needed to be considered an Apprentice Mechanic.


The Earn­A­Bike program enables students to earn a bike of their own by rebuilding, repairing, and completing a set of maintenance tasks so that they have the knowledge and experience to maintain it once it is theirs. In the future, this program could become self­sufficient: run by and for the local community.

Bike Lending Library

The Bike Lending Library is like a Public Library for bikes. Rather than checking out a book, you can check out a bike for free. It helps individuals and organizations in need of a bike or a bike fleet to be able to perform some of their own programming to defer the large, up­front cost of purchasing bikes until they are self­sustaining.

Our Senior Services

Golden Rollers[]

The Golden Rollers Program is a collaboration between the Ghisallo Cycling Initiative and the Conley­ Guerrero Senior Activity Center in East Austin. It provides an opportunity for adults aged 50 and older to engage in low­impact, bicycle­based recreation, exploration, and transportation. In the fall of 2016 it is expanding to the Rundberg area through a partnership at the Gus Garica Rec Center followed by Dove Springs either mid fall or early spring at the Gus Garcia Rec Center.

Our Community Infrastructure Projects

Community Bicycle Hub[]

Utilizing 20' modified shipping containers, the structure is subdivided between a bicycle maintenance workshop and and bicycle storage area for bicycle educational fleets and/or a lending library. Priority locations are areas where we have ongoing services and where a bike shop is not available within the community (outside 5 miles). We currently have two installed in the Austin area with one at Community First Village (Mobile Loaves and Fishes) providing transportation support, mechanical instruction, and employment skills training for individuals who have been chronically homeless. The second is installed at Gus Garcia Rec Center off of Rundberg to provide a community bike shop and house youth bike and senior trike fleets for Cycle Academy and Golden Rollers programming. We are currently working on funding to produce our third Hub and locate it at the Dove Springs Rec center in Southeast Austin.

There will be more photos of the buildout and completion available soon on our blog.


Mike is the production director at KUT, where he’s been working since his days as an English major at the University of Texas. He produces and hosts This Is My Thing and Arts Eclectic, and also produces Get Involved and the Sonic ID project. When pressed to do so, he’ll write short paragraphs about himself in the third person, but usually prefers not to.
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