In April we announced Dismantle as the newest venture in the WA venture philanthropy portfolio. Since then, we have been working closely with the Dismantle team to plan, structure and coordinate what is a very exciting and innovative venture partnership.
The focus of our partnership with Dismantle is on supporting them to develop a franchise model for delivering BikeRescue, a youth engagement program run over 10 weeks. Participants (aged 12-17) learn to dismantle and reassemble a bike and by the end of the program, have successfully built two bikes, one to keep and one to give away.
Dismantle relies heavily on partner organisations (e.g. schools, youth support organisations, vocational training programs) to deliver their program. Their partners are responsible for identifying and recruiting the at-risk young people to participate and then are responsible for supporting the young people post-program back into education, training or employment.
Over the past 5 years, Dismantle has been delivering BikeRescue around the Perth metro area, supporting 500+ young people in partnership with 40 youth service delivery organisations. They have a track record of enabling their partners to better engage and support young people and word of mouth referrals are now leading to increased demand and interest for their program in regional communities across Western Australia.
Like most early stage social enterprises, Dismantle operates on a lean budget with only a few employees, most being BikeRescue facilitators, responsible for delivering the program. For Dismantle to meet this growing demand in a sustainable way, they have to consider an alternative model of delivery, and are now exploring training their partners to deliver the program directly. The question is can they teach someone to deliver BikeRescue? And if so, will the program achieve the same results as when Dismantle delivers it directly?
Dismantle believes the answer is yes. Although bike mechanics play a big role in the program, Dismantle is clear that the focus of the program is not about bikes, but about the relationship building and mentoring that occurs between the facilitators and the young people. By focussing together on a hands-on task, facilitators are able to develop a natural and authentic relationship with the young person, which then enables them to open up, improve their emotional security and increase their aspirations, self-esteem and self-confidence. This behavioural change enables Dismantle’s partners to more effectively support and connect the young person back into positive education or employment pathways.
Dismantle believes the key skill for enabling young people to realise this change is strong youth work experience, which their partners already possess. The part that needs to be learnt is the bike mechanics and how to seamlessly and naturally blend this with the relationship building experience. They are confident that this can be taught over a 4 day training program and we are excited to help them test and explore this.
The first six months of our partnership will focus on supporting Dismantle (in partnership with our pro bono partner, Azure Consulting) to conduct in-depth research with past, current and prospective partners and participants to identify the critical elements for enabling positive outcomes for young people and ensuring that these are transferrable.
Once we are confident about this, the next 12 months of the partnership will focus on developing a comprehensive training protocol and package of support. The final stage of the partnership will focus on piloting, testing and improving the training program with the goal of having a product ready to deliver across regional Western Australia in the third year of our partnership.
It is exciting to be partnering with Dismantle to test, learn and trial a new delivery model for regional communities. It gets to the core of venture philanthropy’s purpose – de-risking new and innovative models to enable broader system change. We look forward to sharing updates and lessons learnt as we progress and hope that these can inform the way other organisations are considering service delivery in regional communities.