Norte is here

Norte is here

Our small and mighty organization is well-loved because we deliver something special. Norte’s initiatives connect, empower, and engage people of all ages and abilities. It is work that spreads joy. And I’m delighted to step into my new role as executive director and work alongside stellar staff, volunteers, and community partner organizations. We’re all ready to shine.

The last nine months have been a mix of challenges, deep planning, and personal growth as a leader. I’ve learned to lean into and expand upon my interpersonal skills — I’ve done a lot of listening. Working with others towards shared goals is rewarding. I strive to ensure those around me feel empowered, supported, and appreciated. That’s the force that drives me.

As we move forward, I want to express my gratitude to you and the entire Norte community. Please know that Norte is here and will continue to provide community gems such as our summer camps, slow rolls, and bike valet. Currently, I have three program priorities I aim to achieve:

  • Ensure our scholarship program reaches those who need us the most.
  • Elevate Balance Bike Club experiences to welcome and encourage first-time riders.
  • Increase investment in Bikes for All to further support people with special needs and abilities.

Later this year, Norte will begin defining our next strategic plan. I envision increasing in-school and after-school programming will be top priorities. We will also revitalize our walk and roll initiatives. There are many opportunities ahead, and I’ll be reaching out to you, the Norte community, to help guide our way.

Norte is here for you. Northern Michigan is our home and we love having the Grand Traverse County Civic Center as our home base. We still have plans for a pump track and traffic garden here (stay tuned). So stop by and see us. We have so much to share with you. We are here because of you and for you.

Join me in making our region a happier, healthier, stronger place to live and grow.

Let’s Roll!

Jill Sill
Executive Director

📷 Above: Jill proudly in front of Norte’s new bike box after delivery by BoxPop (a division of @britteninc). Special thanks to @teamelmers and Re2 Carpentry for prepping the site. 

 


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Norte Hires Jill Sill as Executive Director

For Immediate Release
June 16, 2022 

Norte Hires Jill Sill as Executive Director

Sill has earned the full confidence of Norte’s board and staff in leading Norte into its next phase

Traverse City, MI. Norte’s board of directors has named Jill Sill as executive director. The board is confident that Sill’s lifelong dedication to education, leadership, and community focus will elevate the organization’s initiatives and further its mission.

“We are thrilled to introduce Jill as our new executive director,” says Anthony Rupard, president of the Norte board. “She has provided steady, thoughtful, and productive leadership through a challenging time of change and transition. As the board discussed what the organization needed in an executive director, it became clear that we already had the ideal candidate. She has the organization’s full confidence to advance our mission.”

Sill joined Norte as the director of operations in 2020. The board appointed her the interim executive director after the departure of former Executive Director Ty Schmidt last September. Rupard explained that the board defined and followed a deliberate process to identify the next executive director. “During that process, Jill continued to prove herself daily and establish her leadership,” said Rupard. “We’re enthusiastic about the next phase of Norte with Jill at the helm.”
A graduate of Traverse Connect’s Leadership Grand Traverse program, Sill has devoted her professional career to education, focusing on access to the outdoors and physical activity as the keys to developing confidence and strengthening social connections. Sill formerly taught at Homer Flex High School and was the program director at the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies — both in Homer, Alaska. Most recently she was the administrative assistant for Woodland School in Traverse City.

“It’s an honor to lead one of northern Michigan’s most important organizations,” said Sill. “I have seen firsthand Norte’s profound impact on local youth, including my own children and their friends. They’ve gained confidence, connections, and a deep sense of caring for others that will continue to benefit them for years. I’m committed to working with our incredible staff, volunteers, and supporters to ensure that future generations enjoy our programs and develop lifelong habits.”

Norte was founded in 2014 to change the culture of health in northern Michigan. The organization advances its vision through Safe Routes to School initiatives, youth bike programs, and advocacy. Last year, over 1,200 children participated in Norte bike programs, an increase of 300 percent over five years. The organization also loans out nearly 500 bicycles annually through the Grand Traverse Regional Kids’ Bike Library. Norte calls the Grand Traverse County Civic Center home, where it operates out of two buildings — the Norte Clubhouse and Norte Wheelhouse.

“Norte experienced rapid expansion over the last few years, both in numbers and geographically. As a result, we’re rolling out programs from the tip of Leelanau around the bays and up to Harbor Springs,” said Sill. “Our next opportunity is to continue to elevate our programming while also building organizational resilience to ensure that we’re here for northern Michigan. We’re approaching the end of our two-year strategic plan, and I have full confidence in what we affectionately call Team Orange — our staff, volunteers, supporters, and riders— to move boldly into the next phase of the organization.”

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Norte | Happy. Healthy. Strong.  Norte is the Traverse City area’s active transportation–centered, youth-focused, neighborhood-based 501c3 advocacy organization. Norte’s mission is to help build stronger, better connected, and more walk/bike-friendly communities by empowering the young and young at heart.

Meet Our New Chief Bike Mechanic

Meet Our New Chief Bike Mechanic

Tyler Wituszynski Joins Norte as Chief Bike Mechanic

Traverse City, MI. Tyler Wituszynski recently joined Norte as Chief Bike Mechanic. He will manage all aspects of Norte’s Grand Traverse Regional Kids’ Bike Library and the Community Bike Shop. He will also teach basic bike mechanics in Norte’s youth bike programs and stand-alone classes.

“I’m thrilled to bring my skills to the community to build something with a powerful impact,” said Wituszynski. “Norte connects children and everyone to the community. The programs have helped my family stay active and healthy, so it’s a privilege to be part of the momentum.”

Tyler brings over ten years of bike shop experience to Norte’s Wheelhouse. He worked for McLain’s Cycle and Fitness as a service manager and store manager at Higher Ground Bicycle Co. in Tallahassee, Fla. Most recently, he was a sales associate with Carrier Great Lakes.

The Chief Bike Mechanic is a new position at Norte and results from the continued growth of the nonprofit. Currently, there are 500 bikes in Norte’s library system. Norte loans these bicycles out for use during programs like the after-school Adventure Bike Club, Mountain Bike Team, and Summer Bike Camp. The library is also available for long-term use at home for the youngest riders in the region. Norte has over 1,200 participants a year through the various youth bike programs and Safe Routes to School programs.

“Tyler is not new to Norte,” said Interim Executive Director Jill Sill. “He has been a coach and a volunteer with us and understands the positive impact an adventure-ready bicycle can have on the confidence and joy of a Norte rider, a Norte coach, and those in northern Michigan who borrow a bicycle through our Grand Traverse Regional Bike Library. Tyler will ensure our riders keep rolling.”

To learn more about the services provided, Norte invites the community to visit the Wheelhouse Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 8:30 am – 4:30 pm, and Wednesdays 10 am– 6 pm. The Wheelhouse, the orange building on the north side of the Grand Traverse County Civic Center, hosts the above services and Norte’s used bike sales. Visitors can reach Wituszynski at 231-883-2471 or via HappyHealthyStrong.org.

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Norte | Happy. Healthy. Strong.  Norte is the Traverse City area’s active transportation–centered, youth-focused, neighborhood-based 501c3 advocacy organization. Norte’s mission is to help build stronger, better connected, and more walk/bike-friendly communities by empowering the young and young at heart.


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Board of Directors: April Minutes

Board of Directors: April Minutes

Recently, Norte’s Board of Directors approved the publishing of minutes after each meeting, beginning with June 8, 2021.  As minutes are published, they will be archived at Our Governance. If you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out at hello@elgruponorte.org.

LATEST MEETING MINUTES

To view, click through to full-screen view in the frame below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re Hiring! Team Associate

 

POSITION SUMMARY

The Norte Team Associate position will support a wide range of outreach activities, programs, and visitor interactions to help further Norte’s mission. The Team Associate works out of the Norte Clubhouse in the Grand Traverse County Civic Center, with some duties at the Norte Wheelhouse and some remotely. Strong communication skills, enthusiasm, and a desire to help Team Orange transform the culture of health in northern Michigan are essential. 

RELATIONSHIPS

  • Reports to: Leadership Team
  • Supervises: None
  • Supports: The entire Norte staff, visitors, volunteers, and the general public.

RESPONSIBILITIES 

The Norte Team Associate is responsible for welcoming visitors to the Clubhouse. They will often be the first point of contact for new patrons. Their responsibilities will be public-centric, and will include the ability to provide clear information about our programs and initiatives. The Team Associate will:

  • Correctly direct public inquiries to the appropriate Norte personnel
  • Maintain the Clubhouse as a welcoming community space and staff workplace
  • Spearhead Norte events with critical planning, organization, and implementation 
  • Supervise on-site programs throughout the year (i.e., Balance Bike Club and Bikes for All Meetups)
  • Oversee Norte’s merchandise (i.e., display, sorting, delivery, and inventory)
  • Support the various needs of Norte staff and programs as they arise

STANDARDS OF PERFORMANCE

Success is measured by the following standards:

  • Required work is completed on time 
  • Written communication is clear, concise, and professional
  • Systems and processes are followed, and improved when appropriate

NECESSARY KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE

At least two years of relevant experience in customer service. 

Skills

  • Friendly, encouraging, informative
  • Proficiency with G Suite, including Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Sheets, Docs, and Slides
  • Cashier experience (Norte’s uses Lightspeed for inventory and point of sale)
  • Professionalism when communicating on the phone, in email, or in person
  • Detail-oriented with strong organization skills
  • Excellent time management skills and the ability to meet deadlines
  • Able to work independently and as part of a team
  • Effective problem-solving skills

Other

  • Able to work flexible hours, including occasional evenings and weekends
  • The desire to learn and grow professionally

PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS

  • Frequent computer work
  • Occasional light lifting up to 50 lbs.
  • Occasional short bicycle riding

COMPENSATION

The Norte Team Associate is a part-time position with an hourly wage of $16–$18 per hour, depending on experience. The majority of the work will be carried out at the Norte Clubhouse located at the Grand Traverse County Civic Center. Some remote work is possible during the winter months. 

The typical hours for the Team Associate will fluctuate slightly depending on the season.

Approximately 26  hours per week. Typically: Wednesday 10:00–6:00, Thursday 10:00–6:00, Friday 10:00–4:00, Saturday 10:00–2:00.

To apply, send an attached letter to Gary at gary@elgruponorte.org. Please title the subject line “Norte Team Associate.” Tell us your story and answer two questions in your letter: Why are you a good fit for Norte? And, what skills do you bring to the position?

We will review applications beginning April 11, and the position will remain open until we find the right candidate.

We’re hiring! Chief Bike Mechanic

We’re hiring! Chief Bike Mechanic

Applications are due by midnight on April 10

To apply, send a cover letter and resume to gary@elgruponorte.org. Please title the subject line, “Norte Chief Bike Mechanic.” 

  • Job Classification: Full-time FLSA (non-exempt)
  • Reports to: Executive Director 
  • Supervises: Volunteer bike mechanics
  • Hours: Daytime hours Monday–Friday, with occasional work on weeknights and weekends. Schedules fluctuate throughout the year to ensure full support of Norte programs.
  • Download Job Description (PDF)

A TYPICAL DAY

Norte distributes bicycles to the community out of the Wheelhouse at the Grand Traverse County Civic Center. This position includes selling used bicycles and managing Norte inventory. In addition, the Chief Bike Mechanic operates the facility, the Grand Traverse Kids’ Bike Library, and the Community Bike Shop. A typical day will consist of completing and overseeing repairs on all types of bicycles. 

The Chief Bike Mechanic also trains volunteer mechanics and facilitates the Norte’s learn-to-wrench bike mechanic classes—The Solution. They also collaborate with Norte staff, volunteers, program participants, and community members. The Chief Bike Mechanic is a public-facing position. The right candidate will embrace working daily to create happy, healthy, strong communities, one bike and one interaction at a time. So, if this sounds like you, share your story and resume with us today. 

POSITION SUMMARY

Norte’s Chief Bike Mechanic must be experienced in bicycle repair and maintenance, with Bicycle Technician certification a bonus but not required. Norte employees exhibit a passion for bicycling and active living. Norte’s Chief Bike Mechanic oversees community services, including, but not limited to: 

  • The Grand Traverse Regional Kids’ Bike Library
  • Norte’s growing fleet of program and balance bikes
  • The Community Bike Shop and essential transportation program
  • The Solution — Norte’s learn-to-wrench bike mechanic classes
  • Norte TuneUps

Norte’s Chief Bike Mechanic also manages used bicycle initiatives, including consignment sales, the annual yard sale, and tune-up and repair services. In addition, the Chief Bike Mechanic will exhibit strong organizational, communication, and customer service skills.

RELATIONSHIPS

Norte’s Chief Bike Mechanic will report to the Executive Director while working closely with the communications, programs, outreach, and development teams. They will also embrace working with volunteers and program participants, including minors. The ideal candidate will also thrive in an instructor role — educating volunteers and staff and leading bike mechanic classes for people of all ages.  

REQUIRED KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE

Ideal candidates will have at least five years of bike mechanic experience and three years in a leadership role. A proven understanding of bike shop processes and project management is a must. In addition, the Chief Bike Mechanic must demonstrate the ability to work independently and as part of a team.

Skills

  • Advanced bike repair and maintenance knowledge 
  • Bicycle Technician Certification (desired but not required)
  • Inventory and project management experience
  • Familiarity with Lightspeed or similar retail and inventory software, or a willingness to learn
  • Strong organization skills and attention to detail
  • Excellent time management skills and ability to meet deadlines
  • Ability to share skills with  staff, volunteers, program participants, and community members
  • Effective problem-solving skills
  • Proficiency with Google Suite

As part of Norte’s work culture, we ask all staff to champion and model a desire to learn and grow professionally. 

PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS

  • Daily bike repair and maintenance
  • Daily computer work
  • Occasional light lifting — 50 pounds
  • Occasional bicycle riding

STANDARDS OF PERFORMANCE

Success at Norte begins with recognizing that our work is a team effort. Each individual completes tasks on time and within a system. We celebrate each other’s successes and lead with, “how can I help?” Paramount is clear communication that is concise and professional. Team Orange employees embrace our diversity and work to develop a sense of belonging, acceptance, and support. 

COMPENSATION

The Chief Bike Mechanic is a full-time, 40hrs/week, year-round FLSA non-exempt position with a starting salary of $42,000–$45,000. Benefits include paid time off, paid holidays, an annual technology stipend, professional development opportunities, and a flexible work schedule.

APPLY TODAY

To apply, send a cover letter and resume to gary@elgruponorte.org. Please title the subject line, “Norte Chief Bike Mechanic.” 

We will accept applications until midnight on Monday, April 18—extended. A review of all applicants will begin after the application deadline. Our goal is to onboard a new hire starting May 2. 

 

 

New Norte Kits

New Norte Kits

The new Norte kits are here! Visit the Norte team store at Jackroo and place your order to shop the options. Thanks to our incredible jersey sponsors (see below), we can offer these high-quality kits at cost. And, with dynamic pricing, the more people who order new kits, the lower the price goes—full details on pricing at the team store.

PREVIEW THE NEW NORTE KIT

The first run orders ended on March 29. If you made an order, they will arrive as soon as April 12. A second run will launch on April 21 and end on April 28. We will have examples to try on at the Clubhouse when they arrive on Tuesday, April 12. 

Get your orange on and hit the trails.

 


🙌🏼 2022 Jersey Sponsors 🙌🏼

 

 

 

 

 

Board of Directors: February Minutes

Board of Directors: February Minutes

Recently, Norte’s Board of Directors approved the publishing of minutes after each meeting, beginning with June 8, 2021.  As minutes are published, they will be archived at Our Governance. If you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out at hello@elgruponorte.org.

LATEST MEETING MINUTES

To view, click through to full-screen view in the frame below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Board of Directors: January Minutes

Board of Directors: January Minutes

Recently, Norte’s Board of Directors approved the publishing of minutes after each meeting, beginning with June 8, 2021.  As minutes are published, they will be archived at Our Governance. If you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out at hello@elgruponorte.org.

LATEST MEETING MINUTES

To view, click through to full-screen view in the frame below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Show up, help out ??

Show up, help out ??

There’s a good chance you’ve seen Jason Plum pedaling around Traverse City, whether he’s hauling his kids on a cargo bike or coaching a group of young riders in Norte’s Mountain Bike Team. Jason is most definitely a “bike guy” — he rides his bike year-round.

Jason Plum served four years on Norte’s Board of Directors, from 2016 to 2020, helping make important decisions that shaped the non-profit you see today. We recently sat down with Jason to get his thoughts on coaching young riders, what makes a community bike-friendly, and what it was like to be a part of Norte in its early days.


You returned to Traverse City in 2013 after living elsewhere for several years. How does it feel to be back?

It’s interesting to see the changes. I grew up riding my bike all over town. It’s how I got to work. It’s how I got to school. It was just what we did back then. Everybody knew how to get around by bike. Parents were busy working, and if you wanted to get somewhere, you got yourself there. That was just kind of the norm. So we’d ride bikes to friends’ houses, to go fishing, to go to work, and we’d ride bikes to school.

Do you think things have changed in Traverse City since then?

It’s definitely changed. It may be hard to recognize for some people, but if you spend time doing it, I think it’s easier to see the incremental improvements and the considerations that people give you, like waving you through at intersections and giving you space as you go on down the road. I think that’s due in large part to the visibility of more bike riders on the streets, particularly the groups of kids that are out during Norte programming. It’s hard to get upset when you see a whole group of kids going down the road doing something fun.

When you’re riding a bike, you get to know your community on a different level. Do you think that’s true?

That’s absolutely true because you can’t have the interactions from a vehicle that you can have on a bike. You can’t say hi to the guy walking his dog and learn the dog’s name, and you can’t say hi to your neighbor because you’re going too fast and they can’t see you behind a car window. On a bike, you’re more likely to ride through a quiet neighborhood or pass by your friend’s house. My kids know where all their friends’ houses are and all the ways to get there. You have the time to see people, and people have the time to see you.

Your return to Traverse City coincided with the foundation of Norte by Ty Schmidt and his family. When did you first come into contact with Norte?

My daughter Beatrice, who is now part of Liderato (Norte’s Youth Council), is the same age as Ty’s son. And so we would ride the bike train to Eastern Elementary School, and we got to know each other. At that time, it was just the core group of founders. It was a garage operation.

After the early bike trains, how did you stay involved?

It progressed into community bike rides and get-togethers with like-minded people. And not too long after that, the board was formalized, and Norte went from the garage operation it had been to the structured non-profit it is today.

I was invited to join the board in 2016. I am an engineer by trade. I never had any experience running a non-profit or being on the board of anything. But with anything that you would like to see get better, you need to show up at some point. So whether you’re an expert or not, you need to show up and be involved and put in that time.

You served on the Norte board during a time of significant change. 

These were really the formative years. We spent a lot of time sorting out the structure. How do we maintain what has been created and developed so far? How do we sustain that and support the organization? The big concern was how we would get the programs to be self-sustaining while being responsible with grant dollars and donations. 

If you want something to thrive, you need to show up. Showing up to help — whether it’s getting the kids off to their first program or website design or fundraising or coaching — if you want these programs to be available for your kids and other kids, help.

You’ve continued to help by becoming a Norte coach. What do you get out of coaching?

You get to show kids a lot of stuff. There’s a lot of first-generation mountain bikers out there, so my job is to help them be more comfortable when they’re out there in the woods. It’s fun when you see a core shift in their capabilities. They learn that they can ride their bike in the woods with their friends, and it’ll be fine.

Do you have a coaching philosophy?

I like to keep things interesting because if you do the same thing every day, they’ll get bored with it just like anything else. So maybe I will say that today is Ladies’ Night, and the girls will lead the ride today, and we’re riding at their pace. 

They start to learn how they like to ride from day one, and they figure out their favorite places to go. They know exactly where they want to go by the end of it, and they know all the best trails to get there. And they know what jumps they can take and what they can’t take. So it gets easier, and they go faster every week, and they have more fun every week.

What would you say to someone who has never coached before but is maybe thinking about it?

You don’t have to be fast. You don’t need to be proficient at lubing a chain and changing a tire. Having someone there that’s willing and pleasant and happy to work is by far the most important step.

We get a lot of volunteers who show up and say they don’t know their way around. They don’t know how to fix a flat. That’s great, no problem. We’ll show you all that, and we’ll help you learn your way around. Showing up is 99 percent of getting the job done.


Interested in coaching?

 

Board of Directors: December Meeting

Board of Directors: November Meeting Minutes

Recently, Norte’s Board of Directors approved the publishing of minutes after each meeting, beginning with June 8, 2021.  As minutes are published, they will be archived at Our Governance.

If you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out at hello@elgruponorte.org.

LATEST MEETING MINUTES

To view, click through to full-screen view in the frame below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Say yes to something new — let’s go!

Say yes to something new — let’s go!

In 2022, back when traveling was still commonplace, I was wandering the streets of Beijing with my family.  We were looking for a place to eat and warm ourselves. In our search, we stumbled across a small, frozen lake. The ice was smooth and full of people, smiles, and laughter. It took a few moments to register the source of their joy. 

We saw old wooden chairs had been fashioned with metal runners. People of all ages were sliding about on a bright but frigid day. Each chair had one person behind who pushed them along. After paying a few dollars, we were able to join the fun. 

My mother, in particular, laughed and laughed as my husband pushed her around on the lake. We marveled at the simplicity of this creation. We were delighted to experience something that people of all ages had come out to enjoy. It felt like we had discovered a local secret. 

Fast forward 20 years. My dearest friend invited me to go kicksledding. I wasn’t sure what she meant, but I knew I was game for trying something new. When she presented the kicksled, I was taken back to that time in Beijing — I’ve done this! If chairs with metal runners are hard to imagine, imagine a dog sled without the dogs. I was ready to go! 

Jill with husband Andy on a frozen Houhai Lake in Bejing, 1997.

My excitement outweighed my skill during our first outing and  I soon found myself in a heap at the bottom of a hill. The tumble was a surprising reminder to temper my abandonment and proceeded with a tad more caution. But, I soon found kicking through the woods completely invigorating. The side-to-side action to propel oneself forward quickly became intuitive. 

We often see transportation and recreation as separate activities. In Scandinavian countries, kicksledding is a brilliant example of where transportation and recreation intersect. In many places, kicksleds are straightforward tools for running errands. They are as helpful as bicycles are during the warmer months. And, their popularity, like bicycling, is increasing and spreading to the United States. 

“Kick” translates to “spark” in Swedish, and thus kicksleds are often referred to as “sparks.” I purchased my own spark shortly after my introduction. I bought one online from a small company in Wisconsin. I have snow runners I can attach when traveling through snow. I remove them to reveal the metal runners for better traction on ice. I use Yaktrax to place over my boots for even better stability and control when pushing off the ice. 

Typically, I set out alone on my spark, but I have convinced my teenagers to let me push them about on the frozen lake. Most kicksleds have a seat placed in front of the driver. My sled fits into my car and can fold down if space is tight. I don’t need a lift ticket or to charge a battery to get moving. Traveling by kicksled can be thrilling on the downhills and calm and rhythmic on the flats. 

There is something powerful about moving through the winter landscape under my own power. It leaves me feeling strong, brave, and connected with my surroundings. The sound of snow crunching underfoot, balanced with the sound of my breath, and the quiet of the winter is something to be experienced. 

Kicksleds aren’t everywhere here in northern Michigan, but next time you go out for a walk or a ski, imagine it. And, then, think about having a kicksled adventure with me. I’ll show you the basics, and get you kicking on your own. You’ll soon be in rhythm with crunching snow or scraping ice with each rise and fall of your breath. 

We might not be traveling much these days, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have adventures and experience something new — let’s go!

 

Jill Sill is the interim executive director at Norte. To have a kick around the Civic Center on her spark, shoot her an email at jill@elgruponorte.org. This column was originally published in the Record-Eagle on Thursday, January 13, 2022.

 

 


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Norte Honored by GTRCF Grants

NORTE HONORED BY GTRCF GRANTS

Norte has received two grants from the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation for a total of $5,000. The foundation’s Healthy Youth and Healthy Senior Endowment awarded $1,500 to support Norte’s Youth Scholarship Fund. Scholarships ensure that anyone who wants to take part in Norte programs is able — no questions asked. The second award was $3,500 from the Youth Endowment, which awards funds through regional Youth Advisory Councils. The grant will support the Grand Traverse Regional Summer Bike Camp in Antrim, Grand Traverse, and Kalkaska Counties.

“Receiving these grants is an honor, and we are thankful for the confidence that the Community Foundation places in our work,” said Jill Sill, Interim Executive Director. “As well, presenting to their Youth Advisory Councils was a privilege. These young leaders clearly recognized the value of Norte’s programming on the youth of our region, and they impressed our team immensely.”

Norte operates youth bike programs in six counties. The organization’s summer bike camp served 621 young riders during a nine-week program in 2021. Bike camp is a week-long, Monday–Friday experience. It teaches young riders how to ride and navigate their community. In addition, Norte offers both an after-school Adventure Bike Club and the Northern Michigan Mountain Bike initiative in the spring and fall. Over 1,200 young riders participated with Norte through all their programs last year.

The Grand Traverse Regional Summer Bike Camp registration opens on Wednesday, March 2, 2022. The camp is for riders first through sixth grades. Information on start dates and locations is available on Norte’s website, elgruponorte.org. Sill advises families interested in a scholarship to contact Norte’s program team before registration by emailing programs@elgruponorte.org. All Norte’s programs have a “no bike, no problem” rule thanks to their Kid’s Bike Library, which lends out bikes across northern Michigan.

“We see firsthand the need for children to have a fun, healthy way to explore their community and meet new friends,” said Sill. “These grants will help ensure that Norte’s programs remain open for the communities that need them most. With help like this, we have a significant impact on the well-being of our participants and their families. Riders go home with enthusiasm and confidence to keep the entire family more active.”

 


KEEP UP WITH NORTE

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Welcome to Team Orange, Troy

Welcome to Team Orange, Troy

In November, Norte added Troy DeShano to our team. He will serve as our Program and Education Director. He joins Norte with almost 20 years of experience in the nonprofit sector specializing in fundraising, communications, and project management. He will lead Norte’s expanding youth education programs to keep young people moving and connected to their community.

Norte operates across six counties where they run Summer Bike Camp, Mountain Bike Team, and Adventure Bike Club programs. We also run a Bikes for All initiative committed to ensuring people of all needs and abilities have a chance to ride bikes. In addition, Norte administers several Safe Routes to School programs.

“It is a great privilege to join the Norte team. I’ve admired this organization for many years,” said DeShano. “Riding bikes has been a tremendous influence in my life and a gateway to freedom in my youth. It’s a privilege to be in a position to ensure that hundreds, if not thousands, of youth across northern Michigan have that same opportunity.”

DeShano most recently worked in fund development at Inland Seas Education Association in Suttons Bay. He previously worked in communications, event planning, and project management at the Michigan Legacy Art Park at Crystal Mountain. At Norte, he will be responsible for managing and measuring the impact of Norte programs.

“We’re honored to have Troy join the Norte team. His unique and broad skill set is the perfect complement to our staff,” said Jill Sill, Interim Executive Director. “He can elevate the offerings and impact of our programs. His contributions will help ensure Norte grows at a steady pace and meets the needs of our region. Troy has already begun showing his leadership abilities as we close out a prolific 2021 and plan for a solid 2022.”

Norte has grown rapidly since forming in 2015. In 2021, we served over 1,200 participants across all youth bike programs. In addition, we helped hundreds more in encouragement programs, like Walk to School Day, across northern Michigan. This past fall, 400 young riders met weekly across three programs, including the Mountain Bike Team, Adventure Bike Club, and Bikes for All.

“Although it’s not our only tool, bikes are the primary tool we use to provide access to healthy experiences for the community. By putting people of all ages and abilities on bikes, we create a gateway to physical and mental health. We also create a sense of community,” said DeShano. “I’m thrilled to be in a position to develop confidence and freedom in young people. It’s a beautiful thing.

MEET TEAM ORANGE


KEEP UP WITH NORTE

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Board of Directors: November Meeting Minutes

Board of Directors: November Meeting Minutes

Recently, Norte’s Board of Directors approved the publishing of minutes after each meeting, beginning with June 8, 2021.  As minutes are published, they will be archived at Our Governance. If you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out at hello@elgruponorte.org.

LATEST MEETING MINUTES

To view, click through to full-screen view in the frame below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Board of Directors: October Meeting Minutes

Board of Directors: October Meeting Minutes

Recently, Norte’s Board of Directors approved the publishing of minutes after each meeting, beginning with June 8, 2021.  As minutes are published, they will be archived at Our Governance. If you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out at hello@elgruponorte.org.

LATEST MEETING MINUTES

To view, click through to full-screen view in the frame below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Board of Directors: September Meeting Minutes

Board of Directors: September Meeting Minutes

Recently, Norte’s Board of Directors approved the publishing of minutes after each meeting, beginning with June 8, 2021.  As minutes are published, they will be archived at Our Governance. If you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out at hello@elgruponorte.org.

LATEST MEETING MINUTES

To view, click through to full-screen view in the frame below. Note, there was no meeting monthly meeting in August of 2021.

Additional Statement by the Norte Board of Directors

September 24, 2021

 

Greetings Norte Community,

The Norte Board’s decision regarding the change in the employment status of Ty Schmidt was extremely difficult and was necessitated by many events over time. The Norte Board of Directors have gone to great lengths to keep this decision private for the betterment of all parties involved. The feedback from you, the Norte Community, has suggested that more transparency would make what for some was a surprising decision more understandable. This message is an effort to assist our community to better understand the Board’s decision and that it followed a long discernment process that involved Ty. The entire process was based on our commitment to fulfilling Norte’s mission.

By way of more recent background, the Board of Directors met with Ty Schmidt on Wednesday, September 15, and advised him that he was being released from his role as Executive Director. In that meeting, we also attempted to offer an alternate role supporting Norte that aligned with what we believe are Ty’s strengths. Since the meeting and over the past one and a half weeks, members of the Board have met again with Ty and offered this alternative role and to negotiate its terms and expectations to ensure it was a role Ty believed he could be successful in.

The offer includes:

  • Title TBD
  • Compensation – No change from current amount
  • Responsible for fundraising to support the continued growth of the organization
  • Responsible for promoting the mission and values of Norte in the community, region, and beyond.
  • Engagement with the participants and kids at Norte programming and events

The offer does not include him continuing traditional Executive Director responsibilities regarding personnel matters or interactions with staff on day-to-day operations.

That opportunity has not been withdrawn, however, the public communications we have all seen from Ty, indicate he deems our offer is insufficient. Our offer will remain on the table for a week or so longer. If Ty does not want to work with our Community in this alternative fashion, we wish him nothing but success in his future endeavors and we hope to find another opportunity to work with him in the future.

Meanwhile, we have turned our focus to the Norte Mission and strategic plan. The strategic and mission-driven plan has been in place and publicly released for some time. We have not deviated from it, and it drives all our decisions and actions.

Now that we have publicly explained how we attempted to have a seamless transition for Ty to another position, we shall move ahead and will engage with our community to provide all the context that we can be involving internal matters. This includes heightened communications with Liderato, coaches, volunteers, families, and anyone else in the Norte Community. We know this is a place where you believe we have not met your expectations, and we’re committed to meeting those expectations. All this movement ahead will test our incredible staff, for without them we would not be the organization you all love so dearly.

We are committed to the mission and strategic plan of Norte. Most of all, we’re committed to all stakeholders of the Norte Community and we will continue to serve you in a fashion we hope you can ultimately be proud of.

Sincerely,

The Norte Board of Directors

 


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Norte | Happy. Healthy. Strong.

Norte is the Grand Traverse region’s active transportation-centered, youth-focused, neighborhood-based advocacy organization. Norte’s mission is to help build stronger, better connected and more walk/bike-friendly communities by empowering the young and young at heart.

Norte is developing the next generation of happy, healthy, strong leaders through its Safe Routes To School initiative, Pro Walk/Pro Bike advocacy, youth empowerment projects, and youth mountain bike programs.

Statement from the Norte Board of Directors on the departure of Executive Director Ty Schmidt

Statement from the Norte Board of Directors on the departure of Executive Director Ty Schmidt

Last week Norte’s Board of Directors made the challenging decision to remove Ty Schmidt as executive director. Ty’s contributions to the organization have been immense, from recognizing a critical need in our community and birthing the idea of bike trains to get kids from home to school and back again to positioning Norte as a leader in public health and community connection. We deeply value the vision, energy, and hard work Ty brought to Norte, as we’ve stated previously.

While we cannot discuss confidential personnel matters, we want the community to know this was not an easy or hasty choice. Rather, the Board engaged in a deliberative executive review process that included extended conversations with Ty, which began last year. We have spent this past week trying to work with Ty to find another suitable role with the organization. Our sincere hope is to have him continue with the organization in another capacity and with the same enthusiasm he brought to Norte since its inception. If he decides to part ways, we wish him well in his future endeavors.

Norte has grown to become much more than just kids pedaling to school in Traverse City. From Pro Walk/Pro Bike advocacy to a youth leadership council to active-for-life educational programs to community services like kids’ bike libraries and community bike shops, Norte is transforming the culture of health in Northern Michigan by developing happy, healthy, ready-to-learn kids and building stronger, better connected and more walk/bike communities by empowering the young and young at heart. Our talented and committed staff will carry our mission forward. We have appointed Jill Sill, our highly skilled Director of Operations, Interim Executive Director, to lead the organization through this transition. We have complete confidence in Jill and the rest of Norte’s staff, the community of coaches and volunteers, and loyal supporters to keep the Norte vision focused, strong, and impactful.


After we sent the statement to media, one outlet asked whether the Board had a response to those who have criticized the way Ty’s departure was communicated. Here is what we said:

The Board is very sensitive to the fact that this is a personnel issue. We have gone to great lengths to address the matter in confidence for the sake of all parties concerned. The series of events that brought it to the public’s attention were unfortunate, but not initiated by the board. We remain steadfast in supporting Norte’s mission and the dedication and hard work of staff, coaches, and volunteers.

 

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Norte | Happy. Healthy. Strong.

Norte is the Grand Traverse region’s active transportation-centered, youth-focused, neighborhood-based advocacy organization. Norte’s mission is to help build stronger, better connected and more walk/bike-friendly communities by empowering the young and young at heart.

Norte is developing the next generation of happy, healthy, strong leaders through its Safe Routes To School initiative, Pro Walk/Pro Bike advocacy, youth empowerment projects, and youth mountain bike programs.

2021 Summer Bike Camp Report

2021 Summer Bike Camp Report

We invite you to explore the impact of Norte’s annual Summer Bike Camp — this year offered in five communities, plus a unique bike camp experience at Kalkaska through a new collaboration with SEEDs. Please join us in reviewing and celebrating another summer keeping kids moving. Thank you to everyone who made this summer’s bike camp memorable.

You can peruse all of our past program reports, strategic plans, and annual reports at Our Reports.