Allentown bike shop owner and former teacher Stefan Goslawski received a letter from an 81-year old woman, which included an article about a youth bike mechanics program in Indianapolis. “Wouldn’t it be neat,” she wrote, “if Allentown had such a program.” Stefan felt he was being given a message and a mission.
Just two months later, Stefan met with Bill Seaman, Executive Director of the Lehigh County Conference of Churches, to talk about a possible collaboration. Although Bill was enthusiastic, he said it would take many months for his board to approve taking Community Bike Works under the LCCC umbrella. The following month, on September 13, 1994, the Conference of Churches voted to take us under their wing. The message and the mission were reaffirmed.
And with that, Community Bike Works was off and running--well, riding! Here are some highlights throughout the years:
1995: The first Earn a Bike class takes place in the summer of 1995. In the early years, 65 young people a year participate in Earn a Bike, from our small rented storefront at 639 Turner Street.
1996: Community Bike Works is awarded the Governor's Safety Award and the 1996 Allentown Human Relations Commission Award.
1997: Community Bike Works hires its first Youth Apprentices. Two college students develop our first reading program, and the first students participate in cycling programs at the Velodrome.
2000: In May of 2000 we purchase our much larger and better equipped facility on Madison Street, allowing us to serve more young people.
2002: A Community Bike Works "mobile unit" conducts classes in downtown Allentown and south Bethlehem. We are now engaging 100 students in Earn a Bike each year.
2007: We are now engaging 200 students in Earn a Bike each year.
2011: We develop a partnership with KidsPeace, bringing Earn a Bike to young people at their Orefield campus. We are now engaging 300 students in Earn a Bike each year.
2012: Founder and executive director Stefan Goslawski is honored by country music star Trace Adkins, who comes to Community Bike Works to film a segment for his show Great American Heroes. Check out the video below!
2013: We honor the contributions of founder and executive director Stefan Goslawski as he steps down from his long-time leadership role. Kim Schaffer steps into the role of executive director.
2014: Thanks to support from the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, we create Junior Earn a Bike, to engage students in second and third grades in learning life lessons through bicycles. Junior Earn a Bike includes lessons from all our programs: Reading, Riding, and Wrenching.
2015: Our 20th anniversary celebration! At this time, approximately 350 students are participating in Earn a Bike classes each year.
2016: Community Bike Works expands, opening our second bike shop in Allentown's East Allentown neighborhood, with lead support from Bob and Sandy Lovett. We serve 150 students in Earn a Bike and Junior Earn a Bike out of our East Allentown shop, bringing the total number of students served in our core bike mentoring programs to more than 500 each year.
2018: Following a trip to the Youth Bike Summit, we hold our first Girls' Night Earn a Bike class, taught by our women mechanics and mentors.
2019: We celebrate 5,000 students in youth bike mentoring with a gathering of students, families, and supporters in Keck Park.
2019: In the summer of 2019, two Community Bike Works students officially join the Lehigh Valley Composite MTB, racing in mountain bike competitions across the state.
2019: With support from The Century Fund, we kick off Gaining Traction, a one-on-one mentoring program to offer support to our most dedicated students in three areas: academic tutoring, social and emotional support, and basic needs.
2020: We are excited to celebrate 25 years of Earn a Bike. As we look to engage a new generation in youth bike mentoring, we can't wait to see what comes next!
In 2012, country music star Trace Adkins came to Community Bike Works to honor founder Stefan Goslawski as a Great American Hero!
Check out our original Turner Street bike shop and meet some of the very first Earn a Bike students
Just a few years after we opened, Governor Tom Ridge visits Bike Works and rides with us
Meet today's In-School Program Manager Emelie as a 15-year-old Youth Apprentice!
Hear reflections from one of our first Earn a Bike students and current board member Will Rivera