Working on Bikes to Break the Cycle of Poverty

Nov 01, 2011

Homelessness, poverty, incarceration and drug addiction contribute to San Francisco’s 11.6% poverty rate. These crippling social problems impact not only the individuals experiencing them, but also surrounding communities. Most affected are young people who are never given the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty. Luckily, New Door Ventures, founded in 1981, is helping at-risk youth in San Francisco prepare for work and life through job-readiness and job-placement programs, within a supportive community. New Door began as a homeless shelter, but realized that what the poverty-stricken needed were jobs.

Bank of America has played a crucial role in the growth and development of New Door Ventures: business services, grants that help expand programs and both credit and deposit accounts. Bank of America also invests by volunteering, whether on a board or mentoring individually.

“Bank of America has a history of deep involvement in the communities it services. We believe that we can help build vibrant, dynamic neighborhoods,” says Chris Leupold, Managing Director at Bank of America and New Door Board Member. “New Door is helping to do that and Bank of America will continue to sustain our support.”

In 1989, New Doors opened Ashbury Images, a screen-printing shop operated out of a basement that sold shirts primarily to nonprofit organizations. Today, they sell shirts, mugs and hats to organizations and major brands. In 2001, New Door expanded by adding Pedal Revolutions, a bicycle shop that trains at-risk youth how to perform bike maintenance and other job skills. These social enterprises guarantee jobs and show youth what it takes to be successful. Additionally, these businesses need to be profitable so they can sustain the programs. The challenging part is managing the cash.

“We need organizations like Bank of America to help us succeed.” says New Door Ventures CEO Tess Reynolds. “New Door Ventures has a double bottom line and Bank of America helps with both. From a business side they provide financing, merchant services, deposit services and a line-of-credit. From a social perspective they provide volunteers, grants and have invested in our leadership.”

In 2010, New Door Ventures served 208 at-risk youth. All participants who were previously homeless maintained stable housing during the program and 86% went on to new jobs or higher education after job internships. New Door hopes to grow and serve more youth in addition to the 120 current job slots. They would like to be able to serve thousands over the next decade.

“When I think about expansion and the future, I often call my Bank of America partners for input and guidance—I know I can count on them,” continued Reynolds.

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