Three big players in the cycling industry — Cannondale, EF Pro Cycling and USA Cycling — have collaborated to create a brand new three-year grant programme for Black and Indigenous student-athletes in the US. The programme will launch between this month and spring 2022, with the intention of strengthening three schools’ abilities to recruit new students and encourage participation in cycling while developing leadership and collaborative skills amongst the teams.
The programmes were created as a collaborative effort to grow the cycling community and establish a long-term source of opportunity for two historically excluded groups amongst the current 215 club and varsity collegiate cycling programs in the US. Among the selected committee tasked with designating the grant recipients — following an application process open to any historically Black college or university (HBCU) and tribal college or university (TCU) in the country — were representatives from Cannondale and EF Pro Cycling, and members of the USA Cycling diversity, equity and inclusion task force.
The Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) and Navajo Technical University (NTU) will pave the way for collegiate cycling amongst the Indigenous community as the first two schools to offer programmes at any TCU.
“The benefits of this grant are far-reaching and will have a positive impact on recruitment and the health and well-being of our student body, who are primarily Indigenous from the United States and First Nations from Canada,” said Dr. Robert Martin (Cherokee Nation), President of IAIA. “IAIA, one of 37 Tribal Colleges in the US, hasn’t had a cycling programme, and this opportunity will expand our athletics programme while encouraging leadership and healthy lifestyles in our students.”
In spring 2022, Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU) will kick-off the first women’s cycling team at any HBCU and in the institution’s 154-year history.
“Having a cycling programme is going to be a great asset and will give our students an opportunity to compete as well as keep them on a healthy track physically,” said Shawn Meacham, Director of Compliance at JCSU. “Additionally, it will allow students to pursue higher education benefits while being involved in the programme and presents educational growth and leadership qualities for our scholar-athletes on and off the course.
"The programme is easily accessible to any woman who is a student and desires or is interested in being part of the cycling club. Cycling will give students an opportunity to consider or explore a career in cycling as a professional, while simultaneously becoming more involved in the community and the world of cycling.”
Each school will receive different forms of support from each partner, including administrative assistance, equipment, financial support, mentorship, coaching, and technical guidance. The varsity or intramural club programmes will focus on varied disciplines.
IAIA will host co-ed intramural gravel and mountain bike teams, JCSU will host women’s varsity road, cyclocross and gravel teams, and NTU will host co-ed club and varsity mountain bike and gravel teams.
“The grant will allow us to begin to find our way back to a time of normalcy as the pandemic has been particularly challenging for the Navajo community," said Dr. Colleen Bowman, Provost of NTU. "The new programme will afford our students the opportunity to ride with their peers and focus attention on building the physical being, coupled with emotional and psychological wellness. It will also offer an opportunity for our students to transform into leaders and cycling advocates for the Indigenous community while inspiring our youth to dream big."
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Mildred joined as Reviews Writer for Cyclingnews and BikePerfect in December 2020. She loves all forms of cycling from long-distance audax to daily errand-running by bike, and does almost everything on two wheels, including moving house, and started out her cycling career working in a bike shop. For the past five years she's volunteered at The Bristol Bike Project as a mechanic and session coordinator, and now sits on its board of directors.
Since then she's gone on to write for a multitude of cycling publications, including Bikeradar, Cycling Plus, Singletrack, Red Bull, Cycling UK and Total Women's Cycling. She's dedicated to providing more coverage of women's specific cycling tech, elevating under-represented voices in the sport, and making cycling more accessible overall.
Height: 156cm (5'2")
Rides: Liv Devote, Genesis Equilibrium Disc 20, Triban RC520 Women's Disc, Genesis Flyer, Whyte Victoria, Cotic BFe 26, Clandestine custom bike
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