Author’s Note: For our first Neon One Leadership Series interview, I sat down with Kevin Hicks, Founder and Executive Director of Triangle Bikeworks based in North Carolina. I first met Kevin and Itza (Triangle Bikeworks’ Program Manager) back in 2019 when they set out on their search for a CRM system; I was their Neon CRM Nonprofit Sales Consultant! As a somewhat passionate cyclist myself, I was instantly drawn to Kevin’s storytelling around how Triangle Bikeworks came into existence and the types of programs it runs today.
Kevin Hicks founded Triangle Bikeworks in 2010 after feeling the need for his children to have a more inclusive, supportive environment than his school district—and its approach to educating students of color—could provide. So Kevin, alongside a few volunteers and a group of students from the school district, set out to do an experiential learning bike ride from Maine to Florida that focused on the history and environment around them as they rode.
Today, Triangle Bikeworks creates long-form organized cycling trips and educational opportunities to empower youth who are Black, Latine (lahteen-eh), Indigenous, and People of Color to overcome challenges, achieve audacious goals, and discover their true selves.
You can find the full interview with Kevin below, but here are some highlights from the conversation:
- How the impact and value of Triangle Bikeworks can be told through passionate storytelling.
- The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and how Triangle Bikeworks used creativity and technology to adapt.
- How technology and Neon CRM has been used to connect with their supporters, volunteers, and youth to drive their mission forward.
Highlight #1: How the impact and value of Triangle Bikeworks can be told through passionate storytelling.
Kevin is inherently a great leader and storyteller.
Triangle Bikeworks is all about helping youth develop self-efficacy, grit, and a growth mindset that equips them to break through barriers and overcome obstacles physically, mentally, and emotionally. In Kevin’s words, “It builds their confidence, it lets them know that if they put their mind to something, they can accomplish it. And that’s contrary to what they [sometimes] experience in school.”
One story Kevin shared really emphasized the concept of giving back. Kevin told the story of a young man who is currently a senior in high school. Kevin had met his mother a couple of years prior at an event where he was promoting Triangle Bikeworks. She let him know that she thought her son would be interested in the program.
As it turned out, the young man was not the least bit interested; his mother forced him to attend. He showed up to the first day of programming and said something along the lines of, “my mom is making me do this, I’m gonna be here and then I’m gonna tell her I didn’t like it, and I’m gonna be done with it.” As the days went on, he began to socialize with his peers more and more, and he became very interested in the history part of the program. Soon enough, he was fully committed to his cycling routine and invested in the program and supporting his peers.
He realized that he would have to train on the cycle so he wouldn’t show up completely exhausted at the history portion of the bike tour and commit his time into building relationships with other students in the program. As a senior in highschool, his time as a student in the program was over, but he told Kevin that he is looking forward to volunteering with summer programming and bike tours for many years to come.
Highlight #2: Triangle Bikeworks used creativity and technology to pivot during the COVID-19 pandemic.
When the pandemic hit in March of 2020, the team at Triangle Bikeworks was fast to act on the technology front. Their primary goal was to make sure that they were staying connected and engaged with the youth they served. The team used Neon CRM to build email series and updates to send to students and their families. They also launched a Slack group so their clients could easily communicate with one another and stay connected with staff.
In the early stages of COVID, they were unable to get together to train and take rides. Instead, they launched an online book club to keep up with their history lessons and began planning for future rides.
When planning for their summer 2022 ride began, they ran into supply chain issues: there were absolutely no vans available to rent for their 2022 tour! With no transportation, the tour would not be able to happen. Kevin and his Program Manager, Itza, relied heavily on Neon CRM for their Buy the Van Campaign. They used the reporting and segmenting features to build email series to send to their constituents and donors asking for help. It worked! They were able to raise enough money to purchase a van for the 2022 tour.
Highlight #3: Kevin and his team use Neon CRM consistently to connect with supporters, volunteers, and youth to drive their mission forward.
Triangle Bikeworks has been a Neon CRM client since 2019. Kevin and his team use the platform to list and track all of their volunteer opportunities and fundraising campaigns, and they use the built-in email marketing tools to appeal for donations and to send important updates to program participants and families.
In Kevin’s words, “As I get better and better at using Neon CRM and segmenting and things like that, Neon has been instrumental in our growth.”
In 2021, Kevin and his team at Triangle Bikeworks launched more fundraising campaigns than ever before and raised more individual donations than in years prior. In 2022, the team continues to rely heavily on Neon CRM and its tools.
Kevin made a humorous analogy about the versatility of the tools he uses, saying that “Neon CRM was like a swiss army knife.”
Thank you, Kevin Hicks, for taking the time to talk about your organization and the ways Neon CRM has helped drive your mission forward.
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