Real estate student bikes across the country to help build affordable housing

Monday, August 3, 2015

This fall, Michael Maynard will be a Master of Science in Real Estate student with a full scholarship at UNC Charlotte. This summer, he explored urban planning from coast to coast – on his bike.

Maynard is an incoming master’s student who participated in Bike and Build, a national group that organizes cross-country bicycle trips to benefit affordable housing groups.

Along with 28 others, Maynard biked 3,607 miles from the Atlantic to the Pacific in 70 days from May to July, stopping every few days to frame, paint or roof homes for families across the country. He also raised $5,725 for affordable housing, 127 percent of his fundraising goal.

His journey began in his home state, starting in the Outer Banks. “Seeing the change in landscape from the coast working into the Piedmont was amazing. I never thought I would travel from Winston-Salem to Charlotte on a bike in one day. Traveling slowly on a bicycle really gave us a unique perspective of the changing landscapes and communities,” said Maynard, who grew up in Wilmington.

“The Appalachians were beautiful. We biked through the Rockies, and ended up on the Continental Divide on the 4th of July – with snow on the ground. We biked through Utah, Monument Valley, and through the Grand Canyon. It was such a unique way to go slowly through the country, and I met so many generous people in the communities where we stopped,” he said.

Two weeks out of the ten-week trips were spent helping to build affordable housing for families – right alongside them. One of his first builds was in Charlotte. For Maynard, the experience relates to the kind of volunteer work he wants to pursue while living in Charlotte.

“I believe that the homes and communities we live in play a major role in shaping the quality of our lives. I would love to play a positive role in impacting whatever community I live in, and believe that both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations can have a positive impact. Helping to build affordable housing has been a very rewarding experience and is something I plan on staying involved in," he said.

Maynard studied architecture and urban planning at the University of Virginia. “I became interested in urban planning from living in Wilmington, where there is a lot of untapped urban planning potential. I love North Carolina and I had visited Charlotte. I searched for a program there, and after talking to the program director and students in the program, I was interested in applying.”

But Maynard wasn't only accepted into the master’s program. He received a full Childress Klein Scholarship, worth more than $18,000. “Receiving this support was very flattering and made the program very appealing,” he said. He had compared other national programs. “I really liked the description of the program, and the ability to work during the day and attend school in the evenings. I wanted to be in Charlotte, which is a wonderful mid-size city that has a lot of development going on.”

For more information about Maynard’s Bike and Build journey, visit

For more information about the M.S. in Real Estate program at UNC Charlotte, visit

Bike and Build

Bike and Build through city

Bike and Build bikers out West







Photos courtesy of Michael Maynard/Bike and Build