CoFED partners with young people of color from poor and working-class backgrounds to build food and land co-ops.

Co-op Resources 101

This is a list of groups and organizations for young Black, Brown ans Indigenous folks of color who are just beginning to seek out or expand their knowledge of co-ops. These organizations all provide resources, training, or other services to folks of color working in the co-op sector. The co-op world is a large one, and when looking for resources it is often hard to know where to begin. Especially for PoC, knowing who is really down for us and our communities adds an extra layer of difficulty. This is a living document, and will be updated regularly. It is by no means exhaustive, but covers a number of different aspects of cooperative liberation, including food and land information, consulting and financial services, grocery co-op resources, resources for immigrant-led co-ops, etc. Check it out, and add to it!

 

  • For General Cooperative Information:

    • The U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives (USFWC) is the national grassroots membership organization for worker cooperatives. Their mission is to build a thriving cooperative movement of stable, empowering jobs through worker-ownership. The USFWC advances worker-owned, -managed, and -governed workplaces through cooperative education, advocacy and development. http://www.usworker.coop

    • Center for Family Life is a neighborhood-based family and social services organization with deep roots in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, New York City. They provide a number of services, including adult education, youth programming, family services and cooperative business development. They also have offerings in Spanish! https://sco.org/featured-programs/center-for-family-life/programs/
    • Cultivate.Coop is a library of information about cooperatives. Everything there is created by and for people who work in co-ops. You can edit and upload content to Cultivate.coop just like Wikipedia. Cultivate.coop is also home to the Cooperative Education Network, a group of practitioners developing a centralized collection of materials on co-op education. http://cultivate.coop/wiki/Main_Page

    • Cooperative Food Empowerment Directive (CoFED) helps grow leadership in practicing cooperative values, strategies and economics by providing trainings, political education, resources and experiences to young Black and Brown folks from poor and working class backgrounds as you create cooperative food and land solutions for our communities across North America and Canada. https://www.cofed.coop/
    • The Co-op Ed Center is an organization committed to building democratic workplaces in the Chicagoland area that contribute to a strong local economy and invest in community development. Its purpose is to train and develop worker cooperatives in disinvested communities that abide by democratic and social justice values. They just launched in November 2018! https://www.facebook.com/coopedcenter


  • For Cooperative Trainings + Incubation:

    • Green Worker Cooperative is based in the South Bronx and serves immigrants and communities of color. They build, grow, and sustain worker-owned green businesses to create a strong, local, and democratic economy rooted in racial and gender equity. http://www.greenworker.coop/coopacademy
    • The Federation of Southern Cooperatives supports self-supporting communities with programs that increase income and enhance other opportunities; and strives to assist in land retention and development, especially for African Americans, through active and democratic involvement in poor areas across the South, and education and outreach strategies which support low-income people in molding their communities to become more humane and livable. http://www.federationsoutherncoop.com/
    • Cooperative Development Institute (CDI) is the source for cooperative business development in the Northeast. They work with people in the Northeast to create cooperative businesses and networks that grow a prosperous, equitable economy, by offering technical assistance, cooperative business consulting, and conversion advice. http://cdi.coop/

    • The Cooperative Economics Alliance of New York City (CEANYC) strengthens and expands community-led, democratically-controlled initiatives in New York City — from worker, financial and consumer co-ops to community land trusts and gardens, mutual housing, and low-income housing co-ops. They provide funding to coops, workshops to organizers and cooperators throughout the city, and connect folks in NYC to jobs in the solidarity economy! https://gocoopnyc.com/home-2/

    • CooperationWorks! is a national network of cooperative development centers working together to revitalize communities through effective cooperative enterprise development. Members provide expertise across all aspects of cooperative development, including feasibility analysis, business plan development, training and education..https://cooperationworks.coop/about/
    • Round Sky Solutions, a worker-owned cooperative, offers a 10 week online training program for cooperative leaders on democratic management and shared leadership. Their Collaborative Leadership Certification Program focuses on effective facilitation of collaborative meetings, aligned project tracking, collective decision-making, somatic awareness, and personalized professional development. Learn more at www.roundskysolutions.com/clcp1


  • For Cooperative Groceries:
     
    • The CDS Consulting Cooperative has provided services to hundreds of cooperatives of all sizes and is actively supporting the growing wave of new food co-ops by fostering growth with purpose.https://www.cdsconsulting.coop/

    • Food Co-op Initiative strives to provide exceptional resources for people in the U.S. working to start a retail food co-op that meets the needs of their community. New startups can use materials at no charge, reach out to staff for phone consultations and technical help, and gain assistance with establishment and incorporation during the early stages through their open access. https://www.fci.coop/

    • National Co-op Grocers (NCG) is a business services cooperative for retail food co-ops located throughout the United States. We represent 145 food co-ops operating over 200 stores in 37 states with combined annual sales over $2.1 billion and over 1.3 million consumer-owners. NCG helps unify natural food co-ops in order to optimize operational and marketing resources, strengthen purchasing power, and ultimately offer more value to natural food co-op owners and shoppers everywhere.  https://www.ncg.coop/

  • For Food Systems Information:

    • Food First advances their mission through three interrelated work areas: research, education and action. These work areas are designed to promote informed citizen engagement with the institutions and policies that control our food and to integrate local, national and global efforts. Their work both informs and amplifies the voices of social movements fighting for food justice and food sovereignty. https://foodfirst.org/labor-land-and-cooperatives-in-cuba/

    • The United State Department of Agriculture focuses on providing leadership and resources on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues based on public policy, the best available science, and effective management. The USDA offers research, grants, consultation, directives, and regulation for US farms and food providers. https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/all-programs/cooperative-programs

    • Oldways is a nonprofit food and nutrition education organization, with a mission to inspire healthy eating through cultural food traditions and lifestyles. They provide information on traditional/ancestral heritage diets, recipe, health studies and nutrition programming. https://oldwayspt.org/traditional-diets

    • The National Black Food and Justice Alliance is a coalition of Black-led organizations, developing Black leadership, supporting Black communities, organizing Black self-determination, and building institutions for Black food sovereignty & liberation. http://www.blackfoodjustice.org/about


  • For Legal/Business Advice:

    • The Urban Cooperative Enterprise Legal Center combines economic development with social and ecological development to create and support a new form of enterprise that is both sustainable and effective at making self-sufficient low and moderate income communities. UCELC is also committed to working with youth, immigrants, and incarcerated/formerly incarcerated folks. http://www.theucelc.org/

    • The Land Loss Prevention Project broadened its mission in 1993 to provide legal support and assistance to all financially distressed and limited resource farmers and landowners in North Carolina. LLPP's advocacy for financially distressed and limited resource farmers involves action in three separate arenas:  litigation, public policy, and promoting sustainable agriculture and environment.   https://www.landloss.org/
    • Sustainable Economies Law Center cultivates a new legal landscape that supports community resilience and grassroots economic empowerment. We provide essential legal tools - education, research, advice, and advocacy - so communities everywhere can develop their own sustainable sources of food, housing, energy, jobs, and other vital aspects of a thriving community. https://www.theselc.org/about

    • Founded in 1916, the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA CLUSA) provides cross-sector education, support, and advocacy that helps domestic cooperatives thrive. They provide business financing and development services, extension services, training and community capacity-building service to a variety of enterprises. https://ncba.coop/

 

  • For Loans + Grants:

    • The Working World builds cooperative businesses in low-income communities, using a groundbreaking model that combines non-extractive finance with tailor-made business support. https://www.theworkingworld.org/us/our-mission/

    • Capital Impact Partners helps people build communities of opportunity that break barriers to success through  strategic financing, social innovation programs, and capacity building that create social change and deliver financial impact nationwide. https://www.capitalimpact.org/focus/co-ops/

    • The USDA’s Cooperative Program specifically helps rural residents form new cooperatives and improve the operations of existing ones through education, research, funding and technical assistance. https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/all-programs/cooperative-programs

    • The National Cooperative Bank provides comprehensive banking products and services to cooperatives and other member-owned organizations throughout the country. https://ncb.coop/

    • CoBank is one of the largest private providers of credit to the U.S. rural economy. With more than $125 billion in assets, CoBank delivers loans, leases and other financial services to agribusiness, rural infrastructure and Farm Credit customers in all 50 states. https://www.cobank.com/

    • Cooperative Fund of New England (CFNE) is a community development financial institution (CDFI) formed in 1975 to finance cooperatives across New England and eastern upstate New York. CFNE works for economic, social, and racial justice by advancing community based, cooperative, and democratically owned or managed enterprises with a preference to assisting cooperatives in low-income communities by 1) providing financial products at reasonable rates, 2) developing business skills, and 3) offering an investment opportunity that promotes socially conscious enterprise.  https://www.coopfund.coop


  • For Advocacy, Policy and Campaign Information:

    • HEAL Food Alliance is a multi-sector, multiracial coalition building collective power to transform food and farm systems across the U.S. They are member-led, and strive to amplify the experience and expertise of frontline communities who are most burdened by the disparities of our current systems. http://healfoodalliance.org/who-is-heal/

    • The New Economy Coalition (NEC) is a national network of organizations imagining and building a future where people, communities, and ecosystems thrive. NEC support a just, sustainable, and democratic economy, by placing power in the hands of people and uprooting legacies of harm through organizing, advocacy, grants, and strategic communications—so that a fundamentally new system can take root. https://neweconomy.net/about

    • Soil Generation is a Black & Brown-led coalition of gardeners, farmers, individuals, and community-based organizations working in Philadelphia and beyond to ensure people of color regain community control of land and food, to secure access to the resources necessary to determine how the land is used, address community health concerns, grow food and improve the environment. https://soilgeneration.org/about-us/

    • The Food Chain Workers Alliance is a national coalition of worker-based organizations whose members plant, harvest, process, pack, transport, prepare, serve, and sell food, organizing to improve wages and working conditions for all workers along the food chain. The Alliance focuses on growth and learning, campaigns and messages, and movement building. http://foodchainworkers.org/  


  • For Facilitation and Spacemaking:

    • The Wildfire Project is a team of liberatory, intersectional facilitators dedicated to providing deeply transformative experiences to movement organizations, and helping to create space to ask the necessary questions, assess internal culture, identify mission, vision and values, and create next steps to move towards them.  https://www.wildfireproject.org/

  • For Game Creation and DIY Workshops:

    • The TESA Collective (Toolbox for Education and Social Action) works with organizations and groups to build tools, resources, games, and programs that are participatory and based in social justice principles. They offer curriculum and game creation, workshops, train-the-trainer opportunities, educational programming updates, and more! http://www.toolboxfored.org/


  • For Land + Farming Education:

    • Southeastern African American Farmers’ Organic Network (SAAFON) provides education and training to small-scale underserved farmers and their communities on the best practices for creating sustainable and economically viable agricultural projects and programs. http://www.saafon.org/

    • Soul Fire Farm is committed to ending racism and injustice in the food system through life-giving food and acting in solidarity with people marginalized by food apartheid. With deep reverence for the land and wisdom of ancestors, Soulfire works to reclaim our collective right to belong to the earth and to have agency in the food system. They bring diverse communities together on the land to share skills on sustainable agriculture, natural building, spiritual activism, health and environmental justice. http://www.soulfirefarm.org/

    • Black Urban Growers (BUGS) is an organization committed to building networks and community support for growers in both urban and rural settings. Through education and advocacy around food and farm issues, they nurture collective Black leadership to ensure Black folks have a seat at the table. They host an annual conference! https://www.blackurbangrowers.org/about

  • For Information on Immigrant-Owned Cooperatives:

    • Prospera offers leadership and entrepreneurship programs uniquely tailored for Latinx immigrant women. They use a popular education approach, through culturally specific programs and an extensive network of partners, allowing entrepreneurs access to the tools, networks and financial resources they need to launch, grow, and become successful owners of cooperative enterprises. http://prosperacoops.org/

    • Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) is a coalition of grassroots organizers working with their communities in the Little Village area of Chicago to accomplish environmental justice and achieve the self-determination of immigrant, low-income, and working-class families. LVEJO launches political campaigns, provides resources, reclaims space, and fosters youth leadership. http://lvejo.org/

    • This User’s Manual on Immigrant-Owned Worker Co-ops was developed in 2012 by Minsun Ji, PhD of El Centro Humanitario and Tony Robinson, PhD. With a goal of advancing the values of worker dignity and democracy, education, financial security and overall community health, this manual lays out ways to organize a worker co-op that are unique to the US immigrant experience. http://www.racialequitytools.org/resourcefiles/WorkerCoop.pdf

  • For Multilingual Resources:

    • Food First also has offerings in Spanish! https://foodfirst.org/issue-area/en-espanol/

    • The Seikatsu Club is a cooperative consumers’ union in Tokyo, Japan. They began collectively purchasing milk in 1965, and have grown through collaboration between members and producers, solving social problems with collective buying power. At the same time, they work to build systems that will enhance cooperation and mutual help in order to improve the quality of life for each member. They also have offerings in Japanese! http://www.seikatsuclub.coop/about/english.html

    • Soul Fire Farm’s offerings include a Spanish-language program! http://www.soulfirefarm.org/

    • CENet was conceived of as Google for co-ops. Organized by customized learning paths, CENet is designed to support people at all points on the cooperative learning and teaching journey. It was designed around developers and educators who teach about co-ops in university contexts, but has lots of great information! It is also has offerings in Spanish and French! https://ed.coop/learning-paths/

    • Center for Family Life is a neighborhood-based family and social services organization with deep roots in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. They provide a number of services, including adult education, youth programming, family services and cooperative business development. They also have offerings in Spanish! https://sco.org/featured-programs/center-for-family-life/programs/



  • Good To Know:

    • The International Co-operative Alliance unites, represents and serves cooperatives worldwide. Founded in 1895, it is one of the oldest non-governmental organisations and one of the largest ones measured by the number of people represented, providing a global voice and forum for knowledge, expertise and co-ordinated action for and about cooperatives. https://www.ica.coop/en

    • Mondragon Corporation is the embodiment of the co-operative movement that began in 1956, the year that witnessed the creation of the first industrial cooperative in Mondragón in the province of Gipuzkoa, Spain. Mondragon is one of the largest cooperative enterprises in the world. https://www.mondragon-corporation.com/en/about-us/
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