Case Study: Norte! Youth Cycling and Fundraising Ideas from Northern Michigan

Case Study: Norte! Youth Cycling and Fundraising Ideas from Northern Michigan

When growing a Safe Routes to School program, many communities seek resources to conduct projects outside and beyond the SRTS grant. Traverse City’s Norte is leading the way, showing organizations how to leverage resources outside of SRTS.

Norte is an organization dedicated to getting youth out on bikes and active in the Traverse City Area. In 2015, they applied for a mini-grant through the SRTS program. Since, Norte has gone from a start-up working exclusively in Traverse City to a large community organization working in outlying communities with their own building where students and community members can meet to partake in programs.  Programs include:

  • The Bike Mas Project: an after-school bike education program
  • Bike2Bus: portable bike racks at bus stops
  • Estrellas: learn-to-ride program for preschoolers
  • Friday’s Fantastico: weekly walking & biking celebration
  • Great Northern MI Bike Train Experiment: adult-led bike trains
  • Winter Walk Wednesdays: encouragement for students
Norte youth celebrating during a stop on a bike ride.

Norte knew they needed more than just SRTS funding, so they developed creative ways to fundraise for their programs. Starting out they built an easy to use and informative website that included events, volunteering, and program info. This also includes a donations tab and an online store – where they sell swag like hats, hoodies, and riding gear, and mugs.

As a new organization, they knew they needed to develop strong community partnerships. So, they started partnering with local businesses, community and trail groups to look for funding resources. Working with local businesses provided additional name recognition and helped build donations and sponsorships. Some businesses like Higher Ground Roasters, sell special products, like a special coffee brew, to support the program.

Tapping into the large tourist market that Traverse City draws each year, Norte had the good idea to volunteer at large community events and festivals by creating a bike valet. Volunteering at these community events spread the word about their programs and helped fundraise through tips and donations.

As their programs grew, Norte started seeking out additional grants to assist in their efforts. During this time, they reached out to those volunteers that came out to help at the community events and with their programs, leveraging expertise and time in applying for funds, running new programs, and fundraising. Norte quickly found success with several grants, such as the Rotary club.

Their fundraising creativity has not stopped either, they recently hosted a bike-a-thon to fundraise through social media.

Students and parents participating walking to school.

Program Impact:

Through Norte’s persistence, Traverse City leveraged funds for SRTS projects and programs that impact hundreds of students. Working with the City of Traverse City, Traverse City Area Public Schools, and TART Trails to develop and grow them year-after-year.

SRTS Funding Investment with Norte! Youth Cycling:

  • 2015 – 8 schools $15,000 – mini-grant programming
  • 2016 – 6 schools $20,000 – mini-grant programming
  • 2018 – 8 schools $15,000 – mini-grant program & 8 schools $80,000 – major-grant application
  • Total Programming Investment: $130,000