Little Bellas

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All-access: how Little Bellas has been breaking down barriers to cycling

Little Bellas was recently selected by the Vista Outdoor Foundation as one of ten non-profit organizations who were awarded a total of $600,000 in grants as part of the Foundation’s initial grant cycle. Little Bellas will use its portion of the grant to advance its access initiatives, which have underscored Little Bellas’ mission since day one.

Here’s a challenge, look at the image below and see if you can tell who receives financial assistance and/or gear to participate in Little Bellas. We bet you can’t. 

Little Bellas read a map

That’s because we designed Little Bellas to allow participation opportunities regardless of economic status and we don’t make a big deal about it. Since Day 1 Little Bellas has dedicated itself to increasing access to its programs by breaking down barriers to participation. Here’s another challenge, if you can think of a barrier to cycling, here’s what we’ve done so far to eliminate it.

Mentors and Program Leads will teach anyone!

Our mentors and program leads work with ALL participants regardless of their cycling experience. From Knoxville to Grand Junction and everywhere in between, their tireless efforts have turned non-riders into riders. They’ve transformed apprehension into confidence and facilitated an unmatched excitement for the outdoors. We are immensely proud of their ability to shepherd a girl who’s new to the sport and the outdoors through this experience.  

Little Bellas Financial Assistance and Gear Up!

On average, cycling costs more than twice as much as basketball, and five times as much as track and field. Kids from lower-income homes participate in cycling less often.

We take our goal to get more girls* on bikes seriously through our Financial Assistance and Gear Up Programs. This may include covering full or partial costs of registration, providing equipment to participants in need, and intentional changes to our registration process to increase participation and decrease disadvantages that may hinder a participant’s ability to get involved. 

Access to mountain biking through expanded reach

Little Bellas mountain biking in Maryland

Misperceptions about mountain biking can often lead to false conclusions about a person’s eligibility to participate. Access is about shattering these misperceptions and revealing paths to participation available to all.

We are focused on increasing the opportunities for participants to access our programs. As existing chapters grow, Little Bellas is prepped and ready to support them in expanding their local reach through additional programming. We don’t just stop there -  we’ve also added new programs to meet the interests of participants as they age out of our traditional program format.

Next up: New and Varied Programming

Rockburn Branch Park, Elkridge, MD

Not everyone lives near areas where mountain biking is common but here’s the thing, Little Bellas are experts at adapting to circumstances. It’s this broad-minded attitude toward the sport that has bred opportunities out of challenges and has led to getting more girls on bikes.

As we continue to grow as an organization, we recognize the need for new and creative ways to achieve our mission to its fullest. We are actively looking at a number of ways that we can adapt our curriculum to include riding on a variety of surfaces — because girls who reside in paved and urban areas love bikes too! 

This is what the future looks like for Little Bellas

Little Bellas celebrates everyone's individuality

By 2022 we plan to have: 

  • 60 programs 
  • 20 states will host at least one Little Bellas chapter in order to provide more options to more girls across the country
  • More than 1,450 girls and 650 mentors (resulting in nearly 8400 total Little Bellas served since we launched in 2007)
  • An increasingly diverse community – with additional financial and equipment assistance programs, we are committed to addressing the barriers to access the sport -- for all.

Little Bellas has spent a significant amount of time listening and learning. We are committed to learning through our actions and to the pursuit of learning from others. Across the country, we will work with local organizations to increase the representation of our participants and better reflect our communities as a whole.

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