Written by Elizabeth L. Carter of Urban Cooperative Enterprise Legal Center
In its attempt to create its first cooperative in a place where the term “cooperative” is vaguely understood, the Urban Cooperative Enterprise Legal Center (UCELC) launched its Cooperative Academy. After conducting various presentations on cooperative enterprises, it made sense to create a structured educational platform, such as a Cooperative Academy, that promotes cooperative enterprises, equips participants with tools for starting a cooperative, and provides a structured collaborative environment for participants to come together as a unit.
A Cooperative Academy is an effective way to introduce the cooperative business model to interested parties where it allows for active learning, practical exercises, and collaboration that prepare participants to become a cohesive unit. Creating the format of the Academy is the first step. Thereafter, an appropriate curriculum can be formed. The format and curriculum of a Cooperative Academy varies. For instance, the Cooperative Academy of Green Workers Cooperatives in Bronx, New York is a five (5) month long training and support program focused on worker cooperatives that aspire to make positive environmental impacts. Worcester Roots in Massachusetts has a ten (10) week Academy that provides entrepreneurial training and mentorship to a variety of sustainable cooperative businesses, including youth cooperatives. Similarly, Colors Cooperative Academy in Michigan is divided into three (3) phases including a thirteen (13) week course in phase I describing general cooperative, business, and legal principles, and phase III launching a worker-owned food business. Like Colors, Project Equity has a thirteen (13) week course, but unlike Colors, where the Academy is focused only on worker-owned food businesses, Project...Continue Reading