Even though the sub-zero temperatures outside have locked down traffic and kept folks indoors, things are heating up at Venture North.
Venture North was recently selected to receive $25,000 in Community Engagement Innovation funding from the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. This support will enable Venture North to distribute 150 bikes through our Earn-a-Bike program within the next ve months.
Our Earn-a-Bike program caters to youth aged 9-14. After one 5-hour class about bike safety and repair, participants leave Venture North with their very own bike. Many of the bikes that Venture North gives out are donated to the shop, but they still require staff time and parts to ensure that they are in working condition when it’s time for the kids to ride them home. This grant allows Venture North to cover the average $50 cost for each bike distributed through the program as well as hiring a high school-aged youth to help promote the program and get more local kids involved with Venture North.
In addition to increasing the capacity of our Earn-a-Bike program, Venture North has expanded our coffee bar hours. Now customers can stop by as early as 7 am for an espresso on their way to work. Our new barista, Casey Skeide, is largely responsible for this expansion. A graduate of St. Olaf College, Casey lives to educate and inspire. As Youth Entrepreneurship Manager at Venture North, Casey is implementing “The Art of Being a Barista and Entrepreneur,” a program he developed that includes topics like: the history of the coffee industry, retail psychology, and community engagement. In addition to learning the science of bike repair, area youth will soon be able to invest themselves in the art of barista skills.
Despite the cold and ice, Venture North's coffee business and number of Earn-a-Bike participants are both steadily picking up. We can't even wait to see how busy we'll be come spring!