Biking across America

Amber Schneider rides her bike as part of a trip across the U.S. to raise awareness for housing inequality.

Grad student raises awareness for housing inequality

Before this summer, Amber Schneider would not have described herself as an avid bike rider. “I’m a very casual cyclist,” she says.

But on a bike is exactly where the student affairs administration student spent the bulk of her summer vacation. Schneider was part of a team that rode from Jacksonville, Florida to Monterey, California — about 4,000 miles.

The ride was organized by Bike & Build, a nonprofit organization that “engages young adults in service-oriented cycling trips to raise money and awareness for the affordable housing cause.”

The trip also allowed Schneider a chance to reach her summer goals — get outside, get involved in a good cause and be healthier. “The travel aspect is amazing as well,” shares Schneider.

Along the way, Schneider and the team gave presentations on the state of affordable housing in the U.S. and helped at a dozen build sites, including one in New Orleans that is still feeling the impacts of Hurricane Katrina. “Quite a few times we’ve gotten to build with the families who receive the homes,” says Schneider. “I love learning their stories.”

That experience is exactly what Bike & Build hopes to instill in its riders — advocacy for affordable housing.

“A home shouldn’t be a privilege. It should be a right,” says Schneider. “This trip has also made me realize that community is so important — not only the places we live but the people we’re with.”

Community kindness

Along with the labor, trip participants fundraise for housing nonprofits and service organizations. Schneider’s team, which raised $181,350, will choose the applicants to fund. Those will be announced mid-October.

“I want to thank all of my donors,” says Schneider. “In particular, Women in Philanthropy for their big donation and Smith’s Bike Shop in La Crosse for putting my cycle together and donating my apparel.”

And when Schneider is back in La Crosse, she’ll likely be found exploring the miles of trails in the area. “I’m excited to cycle more around La Crosse,” she says. “I also plan to do some statewide cycling trips.”

Check out some more pictures from her adventure: