Omaha World Herald
“Mentoring Program at Omaha bike and coffee shop gives former foster kids a reason to try”
Bre Walker was flunking out of college. She had received letters threatening to yank her financial aid if she didn’t improve her grades.
The 21-year-old who bounced from one foster home to another growing up wanted to learn — but negative thoughts crept in: I can’t do this. What’s the point? Nobody cares anyway.
“Everyone always said I wouldn’t succeed because I was a piece of (expletive),” Walker said. “I believed them.”
One day in early January, Walker walked into a bike and coffee shop in the saucer- shaped building at 19th and Dodge Streets. She learned of the Omaha shop’s apprenticeship for former foster kids. It paid $10 an hour.
Omaha World Herald
Editorial: Vital help for the transition from foster care into adulthood
“Trying to move into independence is a daunting challenge for most of these young adults”
Each year, about 26,000 young people in foster care nationwide turn 19 and “age out” of the system. The annual figure in Nebraska is about 300; in Iowa, about 600.
Trying to move into independence is a daunting challenge for most of these young adults. Many fail to make the transition successfully, with negative consequences for those men and women as well as for society.
A 2011 study by the University of Chicago reported that without assistance for the transition, only 42 percent of former foster youths on average finish high school by age 21. By age 26, only 48 percent on average have jobs.
“The Flying Saucer on Dodge Street”
A flying saucer landed on 1818 Dodge Street. The white circular structure with tall windows appears ready for takeoff to another planet.
It is rumored to have been intended to look like Mercury’s helmet. The building was first designed for Omaha National Bank, so it seems a good possibility. Mercury is, after all, the Roman god of financial gain.
“Peddling (Make That Pedaling) Solutions for All”
Miah Sommer hopes his Bike Union venture will turn the tide for many Omaha-area youth.
The Bike Union opens this summer as a full-service bike shop in a flying saucer-looking former bank building near 19th and Dodge streets. Sommer is renovating the space with the help of multiple foundations and private donors.
Under the themes of “Sales…Service…Social Change,” the Bike Union will sell refurbished bikes and also offer bicycle repair. Its most important function, however, will be employing at-risk youth and recalibrating their direction in life.
Omaha World Herald
“Vacant ‘saucer’ near 19th & Dodge set to become bike shop, job training site”
It sat years without a tenant, but the peculiar flying-saucer-looking structure at 1818 Dodge St. has found a fit.
The Bike Union is to open this April in the 2,100-square-foot space — serving a tandem role as a retail bike store in a millennial-heavy pocket of downtown Omaha and also as an employment training ground for young adults who are going to need help to succeed.
“Nonprofit Bike Shop Helps Those Who Have Aged Out of Foster Care”
A nonprofit shop in an iconic Omaha storefront is helping foster kids who have aged out of the system by offering support to help them earn income, learn life skills and set futures in motion.
“I’ve always wanted to be independent,” Bike Union employee David Moody said. “I’ve had a lot of family issues. My parents haven’t always been around.”
By the time Moody was 5 or 6 years old, he grew up in foster care.
“I was a ward of the state when I aged out and turned 19,” Moody said.
He’s precisely the employee Bike Union executive director Miah Sommer wants.
“Bicycles, coffee and workforce development training”
What do bicycles, coffee, and work force development training have in common? Omaha Public Radio’s News Intern Krista Johnson has the answer.
“Bike shop fills hearts, tires and coffee”
Through the combination of teenage mentoring programs, a bike shop and a coffee house, The Bike Union introduced the concept of “social enterprise” to Omaha.
In January of 2014, The Bike Union’s Executive Director Miah Sommer began working full-time on developing the project. Since then, the 46-year-old building where it is housed has been thoroughly renovated, the mentoring programs put in practice and the bike and coffee shop opened.