RBC GranFondo Whistler announces YWCA’s Gear Up program as new official charity partner

June 20, 2024

Program aims to support bike mechanic careers through skills, certification and employer connections

[Vancouver, BC] /ENDURANCE SPORTSWIRE/ – RBC GranFondo Whistler today announced a new partnership with the YWCA and their Gear Up program. This partnership will augment the event’s stated efforts to see greater female participation within the sport of cycling and provide opportunities for more youth aged 15 – 30 to gain the skills, certification and employer connections necessary to work as a bike mechanic.

“RBC is powering ideas for people and planet, while equipping people with skills for a thriving future. We are proud to support YWCA – Gear up through our partnership with the RBC GranFondo Whistler, giving youth in the program the opportunity to gain hands-on experience and connect with those in the cycling industry.” – Martin Thibodeau, Regional President, BC, RBC Royal Bank.

YWCA Gear Up is a bike mechanic employment program designed for youth aged 15-30. Many of the participants face multiple barriers to employment, such as homelessness or housing insecurity, lack of essential workplace skills due to incomplete education, a history of addiction or mental health issues, or a lack of employment opportunities stemming from insufficient local work experience or skills relevant to the current labor market.

“We are thrilled to be the charity of choice for this year’s RBC GranFondo Whistler. This donation will help us provide youth with hands-on bike mechanics, employment and life skills. YWCA Gear Up has supported over 100 young people to explore opportunities in the bike industry, and this donation will strengthen and expand that support for future participants.” – Gray Myrfield, YWCA Gear Up Program Manager.

“We are incredibly proud to be welcoming the YWCA Gear Up program into the RBC GranFondo Whistler family”, said Oli Cartmell, RBC GranFondo Whistler Director. Both the YWCA and Gear Up provide important opportunities for youth in the cycling industry and community, something that is closely aligned with the values of the event and its riders.

The program spans 13 weeks, beginning with five weeks of workshops that encompass 40 hours of bike mechanic training, life skills and employment workshops, as well as various certifications including First Aid and SuperHost customer service training.

Following the workshop phase, participants engage in a six-week job placement at a local bike shop. The final two weeks of the program focus on providing follow-up support and assistance in job search endeavors, aiming to facilitate participants in securing sustainable employment within the bike shop industry.

This partnership forms a component of RBC GranFondo Whistler’s Project 30by30 initiative, designed to increase opportunities for women in cycling – (https://paragraph.xyz/@rbcgranfondo/project-30by3)

Participants at RBC GranFondo Whistler will have the opportunity to fundraise and donate towards the Gear Up program as part of their registration. In addition, the Royal Bank of Canada will also be presenting Gear Up with a charitable donation at this year’s RBC GranFondo Whistler cycling event, held on Sept 7, 2024.


Established following the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010, RBC GranFondo Whistler is an award-winning point-to-point cycling event between Vancouver and Whistler, British Columbia, Canada that takes annually place on the weekend following September Labour Day. On average, 5000 cyclists ride each year across different distance categories, both competitive and non-competitive. Through the event, over $350,000 has been donated in support of charitable causes since inception (rbcgranfondo.com/whistler).


Royal Bank of Canada is a global financial institution with a purpose-driven, principles-led approach to delivering leading performance. Our success comes from the 98,000+ employees who leverage their imaginations and insights to bring our vision, values and strategy to life so we can help our clients thrive and communities prosper. As Canada’s biggest bank and one of the largest in the world, based on market capitalization, we have a diversified business model with a focus on innovation and providing exceptional experiences to our more than 18 million clients in Canada, the U.S. and 27 other countries. Learn more at rbc.com.

RBC are proud to support a broad range of community initiatives through donations, community investments and employee volunteer activities. See how at rbc.com/community-sustainability


YWCA Metro Vancouver opened its doors in 1897 to provide housing and services to women arriving in Vancouver in search of education or employment.

After 125 years supporting the community, YWCA Metro Vancouver is now one of the province’s largest and most diversified non-profit organizations. And while we continuously evolve to meet the changing needs of our community, we remain committed to our overarching vision: a just and equitable world for women, families and allies. (ywcavan.org/gear-up)

Contact: Oli Cartmell

RBC GranFondo Whistler

604-568-8648 x 225