Bike & Build


Annual Report

What is Bike & Build?

Our Vision

Bike & Build envisions future generations who are committed to a lifetime of civic engagement and who inspire individuals and communities to create fair, decent housing for all Americans.

Our Mission

Through service-oriented cycling trips, Bike & Build benefits affordable housing and empowers young adults for a lifetime of service and civic engagement.

2017 Highlights

We welcomed



Rider Spotlights

Kelly Charles

Kelly Charles


Kelly graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in May with a degree in chemical engineering. After riding with the Southern United States route last summer, she packed up her belongings and moved to Los Angeles as a SolarCorps Project Fellow at GRID Alternatives LA. GRID Alternatives is a nonprofit that works in the United States and internationally to make clean, renewable energy and technology and job training accessible to underserved communities. Kelly works on site to measure, design, permit, and install solar systems for affordable housing units and for homeowners who qualify as low-income.

Before riding with Bike & Build, Kelly thought she would be looking into engineering jobs as a result of her new engineering degree. However, after this past summer, she was inspired by her teammates to step outside of her immediate comfort zone and take the AmeriCorps position with GRID.

“My teammates were definitely a big influence on my decision to do Americorps. A few of them had done Americorps or the Peace Corps before Bike & Build, and I was really inspired from hearing their experiences. But ultimately, I think they influenced me the most by giving me the courage to think outside the box and find a way to work in a field I was passionate about, and a for cause that I believed in.”

When asked what one of her favorite days on SUS was, Kelly said their ride into Mosquero, New Mexico. During this ride, they had amazing tailwinds until lunch and then their first big climb of the trip. The whole team kept saying it was “The Best Day Ever,” and this phrase stuck around everyday for the rest of their trip.

Ultimately, Kelly is inspired to continue working in renewable energy, combining the knowledge she has gained from the University of Pittsburgh, Bike & Build, and GRID Alternatives and applying it to a field she is passionate about. She is committed towards helping families and underserved populations obtain safe, affordable homes and renewable energy, presenting more moments for them to sit back and say this is “the best day ever.”

Spenser Garcia

Spenser Garcia


Spenser discovered Bike & Build through a friend that had ridden in 2016 and was immediately hooked. Although he had planned on leading summer backpacking trips post-graduation from University of Wisconsin - La Crosse, Spenser very quickly made the bold decision to join Bike & Build’s Northern United States team this past summer and ride his bike across the country to raise money and awareness for affordable housing.

When reflecting on his summer with NUS’17, Spenser notes, “The people and the sense of community were my favorite part about Bike & Build because they allow for all of these amazing memories and places to be shared! At 22, I was still on the younger side of the group so it was cool to gain perspectives from some of the older riders and their post-grad careers. It was fun mixing up ride groups every day and naming our different groups or having theme days. Working with people on a build day or riding with a group for a long, tough ride really helped people bond through a tough, yet fulfilling experience.”

Since graduating in May with a degree in Public Administration, Spenser spent his summer pedaling across the country. Then after dipping his front tire in the Pacific Ocean in early September, he headed off to work as a Teaching Fellow at Alzar School in Cascade, Idaho. Spencer currently balances his time between co-teaching algebra II classes in Idaho and leading backpacking and kayaking expeditions in the Northwestern United States and Patagonia, Chile.

Spenser’s passions for teaching and adventure are clear through his actions. In June, he is headed to Houston to begin his training for Teach for America-Indianapolis.

“I'm extremely grateful for the opportunity to work with students teaching Secondary Math starting later this year while also serving underprivileged communities whom are most affected by the lack of affordable housing. I am thankful for Bike & Build for opening my eyes to many different service opportunities and allowing me to share ideas and goals with so many like-minded, amazing individuals!”

Moving forward, Spenser has aspirations to continue a life of service through food justice and sustainability. More specifically, he is interested in how people’s food choices are impacted by where they live and work. He hopes to start a community garden at the school he is placed at in Indianapolis next year.

They Averaged


In Fundraising

Our Top 5 Fundraisers

Dan Esposito

Dan Esposito

Joshua Hickman

Joshua Hickman

Molly Bremer

Molly Bremer

Timothy Cameron

Timothy Cameron

Kelly Charles

Kelly Charles


We Awarded



In 2017, Bike & Build continued to grow our Scholarship Program, offering three full cross-country scholarships and three partial scholarships to six recipients.

These scholarships were made possible thanks to the families, friends, and committee members of the Chris Webber Memorial Scholarship, Patrick Zuza Scholarship, and Margaret Lowe Scholarship, as well as the Bike & Build Alumni Council. We are grateful for their ongoing commitment to our Scholarship Program and recipients.

In 2018 we aim to continue this growth by awarding seven scholarships.

Our Scholarship Recipients

Jessica Elsaid

Jessica Elsaid

Casey Gilliams

Casey Gilliams

Ty Miranda

Ty Miranda

Emily Szopinski

Emily Szopinski

Iyana Williams

Iyana Williams

Jonathan Yuan

Jonathan Yuan


“B&B has helped me grow more than I’ll ever be able to put into words. Being surrounded by 34 unique people who have such different experiences and perspectives challenged me to think it new ways everyday. Meeting people in communities who were so insanely generous to us made me think about kindness and humanity all the time and learning the stories of people who we built with reinforced my passion to work in public interest. On top of that, the people on my trip were so incredibly supportive and completely spun my outlook on life on everything from how lucky I am to how I can change the world to how to have fun in any situation.”

Emily Szopinski

We Rode


Total Miles

We Volunteered


Hours on Build Sites

Over 51 build days swinging hammers.

A rider from the Central US route using a jackhammer on a build site.

We Granted


To Affordable Housing Organizations

Through 4 Grant Programs

  • Competitive Grant Program
  • Rider $500 Grants
  • On The Road Donations
  • Pre-Arranged Contributions

We Impacted


Grant Recipients

The Grantees

Catch the Spirit

Dayton, OH

$7,000 — NUS

With a goal of assisting low-income families to obtain safe, affordable and quality housing, Catch the Spirit has built 1 house a year for the past 24 years. Their 2018 project is to build one house for a low-income family using all volunteer labor with the support of monetary and in-kind services, material donations, and grants. Catch the Spirit will use this project to involve and educate the youth and young adults within the Miami Valley area regarding the need for quality affordable housing and how they can help. Their 2018 house build is anticipated in a new development area in Dayton, Ohio and will be one of several houses being built to complete a new neighborhood, helping to reduce the need for affordable housing in the area.

Northwest Indian Housing Association

Olympia, WA

$6,187 — Drift West

Each year, Northwest Indian Housing Association (NWIHA) raises money to support a Youth Scholarship Program that addresses critical gaps in incentivizing, encouraging, and materially supporting Native American youth as they pursue higher education. Because the NWIHA Scholarship Program is conducted by an association of Tribal Housing Authorities, this scholarship is processed through one of their Tribes’ Housing Directors. In this way, their membership is able to connect with candidates on a personal level, hearing their stories and goals and sharing the importance of fighting for affordable Tribal housing at not only the local but the national level. Recipients of this scholarship have continued to volunteer with housing authorities.

YouthBuild Louisville

Louisville, KY

$5,196 — CUS

YouthBuild Louisville is an education, job training, and leadership program that provides low-income adults (18-24) opportunities to realize their potential as active leaders and an educated workforce for Louisville. Each year, YBL students build/rehab two affordable housing units, and weatherize 15-20 single-family, low-income homes while completing 32,000 hours of community service. The homes built and rehabbed change the face of challenged neighborhoods making previously vacant houses and lots livable and useful, addressing the community need for affordable housing. In turn, this addresses the unemployment rate of young adults and the lack of affordable housing in Louisville. Since 2001, YouthBuild has built and/or rehabbed 19 homes and weatherized 92 homes all over the Louisville community and will continue to grow this number with each program year.

We Added


New Ride

Travis Manion Riders in Front of Washington Monument

Travis Manion Foundation

In the spirit of expanding our offerings and finding new ways to achieve our mission, Bike & Build partnered with the Travis Manion Foundation for a 377 mile ride from Pittsburgh to DC along the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Trail in September of 2017. During the ride, the team of 10 veterans and 2 Bike & Build alumni stopped to volunteer and build homes with affordable housing organizations. The ride was a tremendous success thanks to the Travis Manion Foundation and the lively veterans that came out to ride for the affordable housing cause and to honor their fallen brothers and sisters.

We maintained


Focus on Safety

Safety remains the number one focus of Bike & Build programming. Our safety protocols continue to evolve as we build upon our past standards; here we reiterate protocols enacted in years prior and detail expansions made in 2017. We will continue to hold our riders to the highest safety standards while advocating for shared roads. For more on our safety program, please visit our website’s Safety page.

Our Standards


Before ordering their bike, riders must pass the League of American Bicyclists TS101 online safety quiz in addition to an extensive Bike & Build specific safety quiz. Riders’ completion of both quizzes ensures that they are well educated in safe and legal cycling behavior as well as Bike & Build-specific policies and history prior to their arrival at orientation.


The 500 mile requirement is tracked via a spreadsheet with which the entire team interacts. Failure to complete training miles pre-trip will lead to expulsion from the trip. In addition, riders must affirm they completed at least one ride longer than 65 miles, one ride in the rain, one ride with a group, and one ride in hilly terrain.


In addition to safety triangles, riders are issued daytime-visibility flashing front and rear lights which are required to be on at all times while riding.


When developing cue sheets, leaders are required to use specific criterion and evaluate their cue sheet using several external resources. Once the cue sheet is complete, a second leader will review it; then that leader’s mentor (someone who has been a leader within the past two years) will review it. If there are still concerns, a staff member will review the cue sheet. Staff also randomly reviews cue sheets.


Over the course of the trip, every rider is required to spend 2+ days in the van serving as the “Safety Navigator”. This person assists our support vehicle drivers, ensuring they are not distracted by phone calls, navigation issues, etc. The Safety Navigator also notes riding habits and safety practices as the vehicle approaches and passes riders, takes general notes about the cue sheet for future record, assists with lunch set up/ clean up, answers phone calls, and other potential responsibilities relative to that day (grocery store runs, rider pick-ups, etc).


While in the van, Safety Navigators contact local media and police before riding into each town. Mandatory and structured opportunities for dialogue and feedback on the route and safety practices are incorporated into on-the-road schedules.


As an additional element of visual engagement, riders are provided with high visibility reflective ankle straps to highlight moving parts of their bodies and make them more recognizable to other road users.


We expanded our Bike & Build gear offerings to incorporate brighter colors into our jerseys, as well as offering high visibility neon socks and rain jackets.


We require that all riders train with and have a mirror on their bikes at all times throughout the duration of their Bike & Build trip. We instruct our riders to make a habit of turning around constantly to observe what is behind them; mirrors allow additional vigilance to monitor any approaching vehicles or cyclists.


We utilize a two-van on-the-road support system. Leaders, along with a Safety Navigator, drive the van and trailer directly to the overnight location and observe the route in the morning before riders begin their day; this allows them to identify potential hazards or road closures and adjust the route as necessary. After dropping the trailer off at the host, they circle back and provide additional support as needed. Although not acting as a chase vehicle directly behind riders, each van is outfitted with high visibility signage encouraging other road users to watch out for cyclists on the road. The second van, driven by a rider with a Safety Navigator, carries lunch and is available to riders as needed while also acting as a billboard to other road users. All Bike & Build 15-passenger van drivers are trained before the trip start.

We celebrated


Years on the road

In celebration of our 15th anniversary, over 100 alumni traveled from across the country to Virginia for a weekend of volunteering with local organizations, highlighting the work of our alumni post-Bike & Build, discussing Bike & Build’s future, and spending a few days in the great outdoors. In addition to rekindling the Bike & Build spirit, Alumni were called upon to give feedback on the future of Bike & Build to staff and board. We walked away from the weekend with a sense of invigoration. Generations of Bike & Build came together to celebrate Bike & Build’s 15th birthday while thoughtfully discussing, reflecting, and deliberating on the past and future years of the organization.

Alumni Statistics

3500 Alumni are Civically Engaged

After 15 years our alumni base is now 3,500 strong, and to gauge the impact that Bike & Build has had on our riders we conducted an alumni survey. Through this survey, we were able to measure our successes and can proudly report that we are achieving our mission to generate a community of civically engaged young adults.

Read the entire report

Civic Engagement Statistics

  • 83%

    volunteer at least once a year*

  • 35%

    volunteer at least once a month

  • 64%

    engage in advocacy

  • 99%

    are likely to vote

*Compared to national standards that state that only 26% of college aged individuals and 22% of millennials volunteer at least once a year

Bike & Build’s Influence on Personal and Professional Growth

  • 33%

    became more certain of their career/academic goals

  • 32%

    increased their likelihood for a career in Affordable Housing

  • 82%

    felt Bike & Build helped further their goals

Cumulative Stats






million miles


volunteer hours

$6.4 Million

grant donations

View 2017 Financials →