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Tribal College and University cycling programs to start next spring

Institute of American Indian Arts the Navajo Technical University wins grants, along with Johnson C. Smith University, which is starting the first HBCU women's cycling program.

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Next spring, the Institute of American Indian Arts and the Navajo Technical University will become the first Tribal College and University (TCU) institutions to offer collegiate cycling programs. And Johnson C. Smith University will launch a women’s cycling team, a first for both its 154-year history and for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). These three programs are supported by grants from Cannondale, EF Education First, and USA Cycling as part of the Cycling is for Everyone initiative.

The Institute of American Indian Arts, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, will host co-ed intramural gravel and mountain bike teams.

The Navajo Technical University, in Crownpoint, New Mexico, will host co-ed club and varsity mountain bike and gravel teams.

The Johnson C. Smith University, in Charlotte, North Carolina will host women’s varsity road, cyclocross and gravel teams.

“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 the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) president Dr. Robert Martin of the Cherokee Nation. “IAIA, one of 37 Tribal Colleges in the U.S., hasn’t had a cycling program and this opportunity will expand our athletics program while encouraging leadership and healthy lifestyles in our students.”

These programs will launch as recipients of a three-year grant provided by Cannondale, EF Education First, and USA Cycling. The grant was created to grow the cycling community and establish a long-term opportunity for two historically underrepresented groups among the 215 club and varsity collegiate cycling programs in the United States.

“The expansion of our competitive sports program at Navajo Technical University will be profound,” said Navajo Technical University provost Dr. Colleen Bowman. “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. The new program 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.”

As part of the grant, the three schools will receive administrative assistance, equipment, finances, mentorship, coaching, and technical guidance.

USA Cycling, Cannondale, and EF Education First have previously supported TCU and HBCU cycling programs with equipment, grants, and fundraising efforts through auctioning pros’ bikes.