Since 2000, Barrio Works has been working with youth in urban Phoenix (as a program of Neighborhood Ministries) to teach the skills of bicycle maintenance and repair, and help get a bicycle to any youth willing to work for one. Over the years, with the collective effort of staff, volunteers, parents, and community members, our weekly bike shop activities have grown into an income generating business. In addition to our earn-a-bike program for local youth, we offer quality repair services, and also fix up used bikes to sell at bargain prices. Dealing primarily with used bike donations, we have come to see 1) that cheap, imported, big-box store bicycles can't take abuse and aren't made to be repairable, and 2) a one-way flow of donations from the "haves" to the "have-nots" is not dignifying or beneficial to all the parties involved. These realizations led Barrio Works to develop its own brand of urban cruisers, bicycle accessories and apparel in 2010. In the effort to bolster income generation, Barrio Works recognizes its need to make its products and story more accessible to the general public.
Through this website and online store front, we hope to make our products more available to patrons than ever before. Within the context of our community, we have found that creating our own quality product fosters a sense of pride in craftsmanship and entrepreneurism. As an under-resourced community, we see more than our fair share of donations and handouts (and they have their place from time to time), but we also have well-developed skills and products which are worthy of fair wages and retail prices. To that end, we have built a brand we are proud of, and with each transaction, traditional donor/receiver lines are blurred. Customers ride away happy with a quality, locally-made product and sense of investment in our community, and we, as craftsmen, are satisfied with making a quality product and earning a fair price to continue to fund our work.
Create self-sustaining, community-based programs and shop spaces for the youth and adults of Neighborhood Ministries (NM) that nurture and develop hands-on, industrial arts and entrepreneurial skills in an environment that encourages creativity, provides access to the resources required to act on it, and recognizes the reciprocity between creator, investor, and patron.
From a core commitment to helping craftsmen excel in their art, we continually learn new skills, teach them, practice them and incubate micro-enterprises that engage our youth in such a way that they will learn the social, technical, and industrial skills that will compliment the entrepreneurial culture of their community. Through the collective effort of staff, volunteers, parents, and community members, the weekly bike shop activities will grow into a self-sustaining business. Once the bike shop is economically self-sustaining, we will expand the enterprise activities to include the wood shop, metal shop, and other income engines at NM that compliment the industrial arts focus. We will know we are successful when the community boasts about the profit generating business the youth at NM have developed and our products are sought out by the larger community.