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Nairi Racing Club


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Nairi Racing Club

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Nairi Racing Club takes on a new approach to helping youth in Armenia reach their full potential and broaden their horizons. We do this by getting Armenian youth on the competitive cycling map.

The goals of Nairi Racing Club is to promote peacebuilding through sports diplomacy led by
Armenian youth in cycling and the overall physical, social and mental well-being of Armenia
youth through promotion of cycling.

Now, more than ever, is the most urgent time to enable our youth to dream big and provide
mechanisms to ensure success in every field that provides national pride, business success,
cooperation with Armenia and the diaspora and promotes Armenia. Cycling gives them the
escape that they need to focus on the future and stay grounded. 

Our dream is to establish and operate a Nairi Racing Club in every major city and Province of Armenia to provide world class training to every aspiring young man and woman that wants to train at absolutely no financial cost to them. In addition to our existing club in Abovyan club
within the next 3 years we want to establish six new clubs respectively in Gyumri, Yerevan,
Dilijan, Lori, Jermuk and Stepanakert which will provide year-round training to over 600 cyclists.

We want to spread our message and drive around the country. We want to be a strong influence on the social, physical, emotional and mental well-being of the youth involved with the organization. Ultimately, we want to secure several Olympic medals at international competitions in the next 5 years in both men and women’s categories.

The problem we are trying to solve:

At the time of Nairi’s adoption of the cycling club, there were 3 members. Conditions were very poor and enthusiasm was dwindling. This number grew steadily over the course of two years as members began to spread the word of how much more robust the program had become along with the benefits. There are currently no other such bicycling clubs in Armenia.

Since Nairi’s adoption of the Abovyan club, there have been renovations of the office, new uniforms purchased, bikes have been upgraded, recruited coaches and more participants, organized team building programs and members even have access to free health insurance if needed. With a new social media and marketing campaign we reached many children and parents in Armenia and more. Our group now trains 6 days a week. Younger age groups train for 4 days.

The presence of this club and promotion of cycling in Armenia is especially important given the recent gruesome history in Armenia, where many youth died last year defending their indigenous lands.

The solution we are proposing:

Cycling for our members is integral for their self-growth and confidence. For many kids, cycling with this group is the best part of their day. Participation helps them chase adventure, stay healthy and active, establish friendships, and build character. If it weren’t for these programs, many children would not have the opportunity to learn to ride a bike or try their first race. Nairi embraces pillars of positive youth development through sport to inspire and nurture the growth of the whole athlete – emotional wellbeing, academic success, civic participation, career planning, and beyond.

Sports diplomacy transcends cultural differences, provides different avenues for increased dialogue and unites disparate peoples through a mutual affection for sport.

More specifically, sports diplomacy involves representative and diplomatic activities undertaken by sportspeople on behalf of and in conjunction with their governments. The practice is facilitated by traditional diplomacy and uses sportspeople and sporting events to engage, inform and create a favorable image among foreign publics and organizations, to shape their perceptions in a way that is (more) conducive to the sending government’s foreign policy. While traditional diplomacy is the means to a state’s foreign policy ends, sports diplomacy is one of the means to the means of those ends.

What success looks like for us:

We measure impact based on the achievements and successes of our members. This success is not limited to the number of medals but rather the how many members we support in all our age groups, how many people can utilize this skill outside of our organization, use of cycling as an extracurricular activity for secondary education applications, creating a community of cyclists that motivate each other, and international recognition for Armenia within the competition space for cycling.

As a new organization, impact measurement as well as monitoring and evaluation is a key priority for us. We want to ensure that our programs are having the highest positive impact for our stakeholders as well as a high social return on invest. For this reason, we have recently hired a Monitoring and Evaluation specialist in order to help us measure our success and ensure positive results for our programming.

Where we are are based:

Abovyan, Armenia

Funding we are applying for:

$14,000 - $15,000 per year

How this funding will help us achieve our goals:

Supporting our youth athletes “beyond the bicycle” has always been at the heart of our mission. Cycling is a powerful tool to engage youth and connect them to opportunities and resources that will grow them into confident, resilient, and independent adults. The young adults create a stronger sense of community, especially during the possibility of a looming war with neighboring countries in a country with a draft. Physical activity has been linked to improved academic achievement and fewer depressive and anxiety related symptoms. Youth who commute by bike at least once per week tend to have healthier body weights and have lower risk of early death. Youth who are active tend to have increased motor skill competencies, fitness, muscular strength and endurance and higher bone densities. Physical activity has also been linked to enhanced cognition through improved memory and can promote the development of executive functioning skills. It has also been suggested that people who cycle regularly are more likely to remain active and independent later in their lives.

When our students travel abroad for cycling competitions, they meet a variety of people from different walks of life and cultures. Especially with the support of the Armenian government, the representation of our members abroad is integral to Armenia’s future. Such sports events are a vivid confirmation of the commitment of Armenia to a healthy lifestyle and the actively developing physical culture and sports movement in Armenia.

Sports diplomacy transcends cultural differences, provides different avenues for increased dialogue and unites disparate peoples through a mutual affection for sport. This is particularly important for Armenia’s youth, especially after the devastating loss of an entire generation of young Armenian men from last year’s war with neighboring Azerbaijan. Because Armenia has a draft for the army, young men can be discouraged however, our cycling gives them a larger purpose and confidence they need not only in themselves but in their country to broaden their horizons. Cycling is a strong avenue for Armenia to promote peacebuilding on an international level and Nairi Racing club places a strong emphasis on not on the internal importance of cycling for our members but the external benefits for our country.

How this funding will strengthen our group:

Through our efforts and private donations, we have raised $50,000 of the $84,000 this year. To close out our 2021 budget, we need to raise another $34,000. We kindly request $20,000 from the Spark Fund in order to achieve our mission.

The funding will allow us to continue to train our cyclists, recruit more cyclists, continue to provide free health care and also to ensure that all cyclists are financially supported when they qualify for international competitions.

The funding will allow us to establish six new clubs respectively in Gyumri, Yerevan, Dilijan, Lori, Jermuk and Stepanakert which will provide year-round training to over 600 cyclists.

It will allow us to hire more coaches to sustain more members, to ensure that we can be able to financially support this membership expansion and other forms of capacity development while not having to compromise on the quality of our training and health insurance.

How we gain by being a Spark Fund partner:

Because Spark Fund is an innovative partner, we would be excited to learn more about how to better experiment, collaborate, and learn using digital technologies. As a new organization, Spark Fund has the perfect mission that aligns with our goals to support our growth and that is a very exciting opportunity for us. We have a lot to learn as we grow and Spark Fund would be an amazing partner in supporting that.

How we would like to spend a grant through the Spark Fund:

The funding would be used to close our annual gap as a new organization this year. Currently, our funding is through one major donor. Due to the 44 Day War last year, its grave consequences, a pivotal in-country election, and of course, the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic our fundraising has been meager and not prioritized.

The entire budget the government of Armenia provides for cycling is less than $250,000 per year. These funds are distributed between two other cycling clubs and the Armenian Cycling Federation Our club does not get any funding from the state. It is obvious that Armenia cannot seriously compete on the world stage with such small financial resources. Our total budget this year is $84,000.

This money is earmarked to cover cycling equipment, facilities, coaching staff, uniforms and support vehicles while training. If our members succeed in participating in international competitions, we would also use the funds towards supporting them with transportation, room, board, and entry fees.

Our Annual Income:

74 108 EUR

Our Organization Structure:

Three board members and our founder are responsible for capacity development and fiscal decisions, meeting 4 times a year. All decisions are voted and need a 2/3 majority to pass. Information and impact are collected from beneficiaries including cyclists and coaches to ensure a stakeholder approach to our organizations functioning.

Information and impact is requested from stakeholders. Cycling Federation of America helps us direct the growth of the cycling federation as we're registered with them. The laws governing Armenia dictate how our NGO is managed.

We have cycling classes for the younger age groups that are led by 3 youth coaches ranging from 18-21 years old: 1 boy and 2 girls. They are responsible for setting the training regime and ensuring engagement of all of the members of the younger group. They set their own training schedules, contact parents and lead the classes. Having youth-led classes is absolutely integral to the overall motivation and development of the team. It gives the youth in the higher age group classes something to establish a strong sense of responsibility and ownership of the success of their team. Leading classes allows room to build leadership skills for the youth as well as facilitates an avenue to learn about themselves.