The Specialized Foundation uses cycling as a tool for children to achieve academic and social success.

JUNE 27, 2016


The Specialized Foundation is thrilled to announce the eight middle schools selected for the national rollout of the Riding For Focus cycling program. The aim of Riding For Focus is to integrate cycling into physical education curriculum as a means to help students improve academic, health and social success.

The eight grant recipients were selected out of a pool of over 200 middle schools nationwide. The applications were remarkably competitive and the grant committee was deeply inspired by each school's passion to better students' experiences and performances through cycling.

Each of the selected schools will receive staff training and equipment with the goal of creating a lasting cycling program in that school for at least two years. Specifically, each school will receive up to 30 youth bikes and helmets, a starter maintenance kit, program curriculum, a partnership with their local Specialized retailer to help service the bikes, and a trip for the Program Champion to Specialized Headquarters in Morgan Hill for program training and support. The program will launch in the eight schools in Fall 2016.

Please join us in congratulating the following eight schools: Tarkanian Middle School, Las Vegas, NV Pioneer Valley Regional School, Northfield, MA Montevideo Middle School, Penn Laird, VA Evergreen Community Charter School, Asheville, NC Whatcom Middle School, Bellingham, WA Pinelands Regional Junior High School, Little Egg Harbor, NJ AIM Academy, Conshohocken, PA P186X, Walter J. Damrosch, The Bronx, NY

JUNE 1, 2016


Stanford research, with support from The Specialized Foundation, aims to better understand effects of exercise on brain function and cognition in children with ADHD. “Right now there is a gap in the scientific community around ADHD,” said Reiss, director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences Research and the Howard C. Robbins Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine. “Physicians and families have observed the benefits that physical activities can have for some children with ADHD, but the formal research to quantify and explain those benefits are lacking. Our hope is to one day understand how each individual is affected by genetics, the environment, and other factors and how treatments like exercise make a difference from one person to the next.”

To learn more about this exciting partnership, visit

Qualified postdoctoral candidates can learn more about opportunities to join Reiss’ team at

MARCH 15, 2016


Applications are now closed for our 2016/2017 Riding for Focus program. This program was designed to introduce students to cycling's positive effects on health, wellbeing, and academic performance, with a particular focus on students with learning differences like ADHD. Successful applicants will receive extensive support, including equipment and training, with the aim of building a lasting program that makes cycling an integral part of the school day.

To make this happen, we create cycling programs with everything that schools need to get their students riding, while also supporting original research on the effects of riding on students' fitness and academic performance.

By introducing children to cycling at a young age, we believe that we can help them create lifelong habits with a positive effect on their health and wellbeing. And as cycling is a combination of adventure, fitness, self-reliance, and fun, it's ideally suited to schoolchildren.


Traditional approaches to the school day have focused on the "Three Rs"—reading, writing, and arithmetic—so we propose adding a fourth: Riding.

Our pilot programs found that students who cycled regularly demonstrated improved attention in the classroom, self-reported improvements in mood, and trend towards higher standardized test scores, along with the improvements in fitness that come from regular exercise. What's more, students love to ride.

This is an amazing opportunity for these students and this community, and it will have a far-reaching effect beyond the life of this project.

— Project Coordinator, Audobon Middle School, Los Angeles, CA

These benefits can be even more powerful for kids with learning and attention difficulties. One in 10 school children have been diagnosed with ADHD, which can affect their ability to pay attention and control their behavior. We believe that cycling can be an important part of a comprehensive approach to help manage these symptoms, while also positively influencing students' wellbeing and academic performance.

The Riding for Focus program provides schools with everything that they need to get their students riding, including bikes, safety equipment, and training.



In 2014, the Specialized Foundation ran pilots of the Riding for Focus program around the country. One such program was at Payson High School, Utah, which has grown into a fully-fledged PE class. The program was launched with the help of Assistant Principal Jesse Sorenson, school administrator and life-long cyclist.

"Let’s not make any mistakes, bringing something like this to a school was always going to be a huge challenge, but it is also one of the most important new programs our school has been a part of in recent years.

It has helped individual kids enormously in lots of different ways, like focus, confidence, and improvements in classroom behavior. And our teachers have loved it, so they join in as volunteers during their prep time. When you get kids out on a bike, the sort of kid who doesn’t enjoy basketball can be on par with the biggest and best athletes in the school. Not to mention that there’s a level of camaraderie that you don’t find through other activities.

Before we ever saw a bike, we spent a lot of time working with local law enforcement and the school board’s risk manager. Then at the start of the program we spent days with the students going through good cycling protocol, how to be safe on the bike, and ride on the streets. It’s analogous to shop classes, where kids are using power tools–that’s just part of the culture, and parents are happy to let their kids participate in that because it’s part of the culture, they know the teacher doesn’t just turn them loose in the workshop. “OK, here’s a piece of wood, have at it.” Instead, they teach them how to understand the machine and the right protocol. And a bike, frankly, is much safer than a power tool.

The support from the Foundation has been really phenomenal. They actually offered even more support than we thought we needed at first, and over time we forged a friendship that has been awesome.

We’re looked at now, within our community and within our school district, as a leader. We have a reputation for doing things differently to try to help kids. It gave our school a ‘cool factor’ that other schools are envious of. That’s really the only way of explaining it, and the cool factor is noticed by parents, kids, and other schools.

There’s an opportunity in the American school system to train up a generation that knows how to safely get around on a bike. If there was a way to teach kids how to enjoy cycling as a form of transportation and sport, and to teach them about the fitness, academic, and social benefits that come along with riding."

— Jesse Sorenson, Assistant Principal, Payson High School, Utah


Specialized founder and CEO, Mike Sinyard, has long dealt with the effects of ADHD in his own life. The inability to stay focused and being easily distracted was something he had grown to just accept as “normal.” Yet, he noticed that those symptoms seemed to dissipate after returning from a ride. Mike also saw the positive benefits that riding has had on his son, Anthony, who also suffered from ADHD. So when the Bicycling Magazine article “Riding Is my Ritalin” came across his desk, he decided that it was time to explore whether or not there really was science behind riding’s impact on the brain.

The Specialized Foundation supports cutting-edge research to investigate how aerobic exercise, specifically cycling, can become an integral part of a comprehensive treatment program for kids suffering with ADHD. And through our pilot programs, we’re finding encouraging results in support of this mission.

Furthermore, bike riding has proved itself to be the ideal conduit to these positive effects, as it’s easily accessible for kids with varying degrees of fitness. So this means that students are able to participate at a higher rate than with other forms of aerobic activity. And aside from our early findings in concern to attention improvement, riding develops an early adoption of physical fitness in kids, with the results reflecting a significant reduction in participants’ BMI on average.



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