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Community-Wealth.org Resources

Community-Wealth.org is a project of The Democracy Collaborative and seeks to bring together information about the broad range of innovative community wealth-building strategies throughout the US. Community-Wealth.org has compiled an extensive list of resources around research, toolboxes, and organizations that support cooperative development. Explore here!

  • Role of Cooperatives in Community Wealth Building

    This webpage introduces the concept of "cooperatives" and the role of cooperatives in commnity wealth building. This page gives an overview of materials avaialbe on Community Wealth's site related to cooperatives, which include associated best practices, research resources, toolboxes, and policy guides.

  • Support Organizations

    These webpages provide a list of support organizatons that support the growth of cooperatives nationally for the following subjects: Cooparatives (Generic), Worker Cooperatives, Employee Stock Ownership Plans

  • Research Resources

    These webpages provide a list of articles, books, papers, reports, and websites related to cooperative research and history for the following subjects: Cooparatives(General) Worker Cooperatives Employee Stock Ownership Plans


    These webpages provide a list of articles, books, papers, reports, and websites related to suggested tools for practicitioners and organizers to develop cooperatives for the following subjects: Cooperatives (General) Worker Cooperatives Employee Stock Ownership Plans

  • Employee Stock Ownership Plans

    Here's a list of banks, community development loan funds, community development financial institutions and grant programs that fund cooperative developmnet.

    • Commonwealth Revolving Loan Fund

      Founded in 1987, the Common Wealth Revolving Loan Fund is a non-profit community development financial institution whose purpose is to lend money to employee-owned companies or co-ops for expansion, facilities, machinery and equipment, vehicles, and working capital or for employee-buyouts. CWRLF serves borrowers located in Ohio and the nearby areas of contiguous states.
    • Cooperative Fund of New England

      Founded in 1987, the Common Wealth Revolving Loan Fund is a non-profit community development financial institution whose purpose is to lend money to employee-owned companies or co-ops for expansion, facilities, machinery and equipment, vehicles, and working capital or for employee-buyouts. CWRLF serves borrowers located in Ohio and the nearby areas of contiguous states. A community development financial institution (CDFI) that is a bridge between socially responsible investors and cooperatives, community-oriented non-profits, and worker-owned buinesses in New England. Since 1975, CFNE had made over 700 loans, totaling over $37million, creating/retaining over 9,900 jobs and 5,400 housing units across the region.
    • Local Enterprise Assistance Fund

      LEAF’s mission is to promote human and economic development by providing financing and development assistance to cooperatives and social purpose ventures that create and save jobs for low-income people. Since its founding over 30 years ago, LEAF has invested and leveraged over $91 million, resulting in the creation or retention of more than 6,600 jobs. LEAF lends nationally, with a focus on community-owned natural food cooperatives that create high quality jobs and provide access to healthy food in urban and rural communities; low-income cooperative housing developments; and worker-owned firms and other community-based businesses and social enterprises.
    • National Cooperative Bank

      National Cooperative Bank (NCB) provides comprehensive banking services to cooperatives and other member-owned organizations throughout the country, placing special emphasis on serving the needs of communities that are economically challenged. NCB’s customers are cooperatives, such as grocery wholesaler co-ops, purchasing co-ops or housing co-ops. By dramatically leveraging our appropriation from Congress, NCB has succeeded in growing the original $184 million capitalization to more than $4 billion in specialized lending, investments, and technical assistance to underserved communities across the country.
    • NCB Capital Impact

      NCB Capital Impact is a community development financial institution with a commitment to co-op development. Their website includes general information about what is a co-op and a guide to housing co-op development.There are also links to other co-ops sites.
    • North County Cooperative Development Fund

      Based in Minneapolis, NCDF is a cooperatively-owned community development loan fund committed to fostering economic democracy by investing in cooperative enterprises. NCDF currently serves more than 170 owner-members in 30 states, including natural food, consumer, producer, housing and worker-owned cooperatives. Since 1978, NCDF has originated over $31 million in cooperative financing and is a federally-certified community development finance institution (CDFI)
    • Northern California Community Loan Fund

      The Northern California Community Loan Fund (NCCLF) is a non-profit lender and technical assistance and consulting provider based in San Francisco. Since 1987, it has extended loan capital and financial training to organizations that create affordable housing, promote economic development and cooperative business models, and provide a wide range of human services to northern California’s neediest individuals and families. Its $44 million revolving loan fund includes investments from nearly 237 individuals, banks, religious communities, and foundations. NCCLF’s financial management and facility acquisition consulting and training programs have attracted national support for their innovative approach to building non-profit capacity.
    • One Pacific Coast Bank/Beneficial State Bank

      Beneficial State Bank (formerly One PacificCoast Bank, FSB and OneCalifornia Bank) is an Oakland, California-based community development bank. Founded in 2007, Beneficial State Bank functions as a regulated financial institution, but provides commercial banking services to underserved small and medium-size businesses, non-profits, affordable-housing developers, community facilities, as well as families and individuals in the Bay Area. In December 2010, OneCalifornia bank acquired ShoreBank Pacific and changed its name to One PacificCoast Bank. The merger greatly expanded the Bank's reach on the West Coast, and enhanced its capacity to serve its mission. ShoreBank Pacific, a pioneer of environmentally sustainable banking, began operations in 1997 in Ilwaco, Washington, at the mouth of the Columbia River, and grew to establish offices in Portland and Seattle. Joining forces with OneCalifornia Bank produced an enlarged footprint covering a bio-regional territory some call the Salmon Nation and united the forces of social justice and ecological banking - the merged banks have $300 million in combined assets and serve California, Oregon and Washington.
    • Rainbow Cooperative Grocery Coop Grants

      Established in 1975, Rainbow Grocery coop is a Bay Area worker-owned cooperative offering organic and locally sourced procucts with a workforce of over 220 people. Rainbow Grocery's Cooperative Grant Program aims to foster the growth of existing or start-up worker-owned cooperatives and collectives. Rainbow is particularly invested in funding cooperatives that are striving to: function democratically and non-hierarchically at all levels of their business/organization or build a cooperative in a community underserved by their type of businesses or by cooperative structures in general.
    • Value Interco-operative Loan Fund

      Based in Western Massachusetts. It is a membership organization of 11 worker cooperative located in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont. The organization provides technical and organizational assistance to members. They also provide marketing support and financial assistance to members. One of their objectives is to educate the public about how cooperatives can create jobs in the community. They are dedicating to promoting the growth of a cooperative economy in western MA and southern VT. Their website includes educational information for their members and for others interested in developing new co-ops. This website includes access to Erbin Crowell’s master’s paper which was cited as a useful resource in the survey for those who are interested in promoting co-op led development.

    Coop Support Resources

    Here's a list of programs and memership organizations that seek to connect and build capacity amongst those working towards cooperative development and worker ownership.

    • CooperationWorks

      CooperationWorks! is a national organization of cooperative development centers and practitioners that span the breadth of the United States. Using innovative strategies and proven business practices, CW Centers provide expertise across all aspects of co-op enterprise development, including feasibility analysis, business plan development, business launch and on-going training for operational success.
    • Democracy at Work Network

      The Democracy at Work Network (DAWN) is a project of the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives. DAWN was created to ensure that further growth in the worker cooperative movement actively reaches those economically marginalized workers who need sustainable jobs the most. DAWN is a network of certified peer advisors, all with strong social and professional ties, who cooperate in training themselves and providing technical assistance services to worker cooperatives. DAWN's goals are to 1) meet the demand for technical assistance and development advice with high-quality services, and 2) increase worker cooperative technical assistance capacity from inside the movement.
    • Data Commons Cooperative

      The Data Commons Cooperative is a cooperative of data-sharing organizations that promote the cooperative economy.  The co-op not only serves these communities, it is owned by them. The Data Commons Co-op, like a food or housing co-op, is owned by its members. This co-op is a way to share the cost of tending a commons of overlapping data, and realizing the benefits that brings to all. The cooperative’s first major initiative is to create a decentralized database of entities working toward an ethical economy. Updates made to the Data Commons at any time, by any organization, are sent throughout the cooperative, creating the most accurate and up-to-date directory the movement has seen.
    • ESOP Associaiton

      The ESOP Association is a membership organization composed of companies with employee ownership and those transitioning to employee ownership status. This non-profit organization provides educational materials and training seminars necessary for the successful management of employee-owned companies.
    • National Center for Emplloyee Ownership

      Founded in 1981, the NCEO is a non-profit membership and research organization that provides practical rescourses and objective, reliable information on employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), equity compensation plans, and ownership culture. The 3,000-plus member based includes employee ownership companies, academics, and consultants.
    • Ohio Employee Ownership Center

      Ohio Employee Ownership Center Established in 1987, the OEOC is a non-profit, university-based program at Kent State University to provide outresearch, information, and preliminary technical assistant to Ohio employees and business owners interested in exploring employee ownership. OEOC is spefically focused on ) business owners looking to exit their businesses 2) owners interested in selling their businesses to their employees 3) employee gropus, local governments, and community groups seeking to avoid business shutdowns and community job loss and 4) existing employee-owneed companies that seek improvement.
    • US Federation of Worker Cooperatives

      The US Federation of Worker Cooperatives (USFWC) was established in 2004 as the national grassroots membership organization for worker cooperative businesses. Membership includes over 100 democratic workplaces, cooperatives, developers and organizations that support worker cooperatives representing over 1,600 individual worker-owners. USFWC connects worker coopperative members to benefits, to each other and to the larger cooperative and economic justice movements.

    Educational Resources

    We've compiled list of educational material around cooperative development, which includes educational board games and guides around consensus-based decision-making.

    • Cultivate.coop

      Cultivate.Coop is an online hub for pooling knowledge and resources on cooperatives. It is a space to collect free information for those interested in cooperatives and where people can build useful educational tools for the co-op community.
    • Democracy Collaborative

      Established in 2000, the Democracy Collaborative The Democracy Collaborative is a national leader in equitable, inclusive and sustainable development through its Community Wealth Building Initiative. This initiative sustains a wide range of Advisory, Research and Field Building activities designed to transform the practice of community/economic development in the United States. Another important program is the Next System Project, ongoing intellectual work designed to connect Community Wealth Building to the larger context of systemic economic transformation. Democracy Collaborative is involved in a wide range of projects involving research, training, policy development, and community-focused work designed to promote an asset-based paradigm of economic development and increase support for transformative strategies among community stakeholders, anchor institutions, and key policymakers.
    • The Food Co-op Initiative

      The Food Co-op Initiative is a foundation that provides a rich array of resources for groups that want to start a food co-op. The website includes webinars as well as information structured around to FCI’s development model. There are step-by-step guides, a financial toolbox; templates and specialized information to aid groups in developing their governance, budgets and planning of the startup. The site also provides links to other useful resources.
    • The International Cooperative Alliance

      The International Cooperative Alliance is the official web site of the alliance of cooperatives at a global level. The website provides information and statistics about cooperatives worldwide, basic information about cooperatives, co-op identity, co-op legislation and proceedings and resources from past regional and international conferences. The ICA developed collected stories of co-ops from around the world and in different co-op sectors for the International Year of the Cooperative in 2012.
    • National Cooperative Business Association

      NCBA is the national trade association for cooperatives in the USA. It provides cross sector education, training and advocacy. Their web based resources include information about the various co-op sectors; an archive of webinars; and an events calendar of co-op conferences. Some resources are restricted to members.
    • Northcountry Cooperative Foundation

      Northcountry Cooperative Foundation. Promotes the development of communities through cooperatives. The foundation has supported the development of training materials to support worker and housing co-op development.
    • USFWC Resource Library

      The Democracy at Work Institute is building a comprehensive Resource Library to include a wide range of materials, including academic papers, start-up toolkits, curriculum samples, actual documents from existing worker cooperatives, and more. The topic list below provides a map of the resources that will be available.
    • Curriculum on Cooperatives

      Grad School Curriculum made available around Cooperative Management.
    • Seeds for Change

      Seeds for Change is a set of resources on consensus based decision making and facilitation; effective meeting facilitation; development of worker co-ops; and direct action campaigns.
    • Co-opoly: The Game of Co-operatives

      Co-opoly is an educational scenario board game that is enjoyable for all groups from those new to co-ops to members of co-ocps. It can be purchased from TESA by itself or as part of training on cooperatives. The game works well for newcomers to co-ops or for those with more advanced knowledge of co-ops
    • University of Wicsonsin - Center for Cooperative Studies

      Established in 1962, the UW Center for Cooperatives pursues a research, educational, and outreach agenda that examines cooperative issues across multiple business and social sectors. The Torgerson Cooperative Library, part of the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives, is one of the largest cooperative collections in the world, with over 7,000 books, extensive subject files, a large archive collection and many journals. They also collect cooperative data by state: http://www.uwcc.wisc.edu/pubs/CurrentResearch/state-by-state.aspx. Additionally, here is 2009 state-wide data on Michigan coopeatives: http://www.uwcc.wisc.edu/StateStatSummaries/MI.pdf. Improtant case study publications by two center staff members, Greg Lawless and Anne Reynolds include: Keys to Success for Food Co-op Start Ups in Rural Areas: Four Case Studies A study of four grocery cooperatives, located in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Research Report 208. Worker Cooperatives: Case Studies, Key Criteria and Best Practices

    Legal Resources and Policy Initiatives

      Here's a list of national legal and policy work that promotes cooperative development.

    • East Bay Community Law Center

      Green-Collar Communities Clinic (GC3):IN 2012, Sushil Jacob launched new community economic development clinic. GC3 provides free, integrated legal and business assistance to low-income entrepreneurs and nonprofits who seek to create cooperative and environmentally-sustainable ventures.
    • CUNY Law School's Community and Economic Development Clinic

      CUNY School of Law's Community and Economic Development Clinic: CED student-attorneys provide legal advice and assistance to community-based organizational clients on matters that include: forming cooperatives and non-profits, designing governance structures, applying for tax exemption, and complying with non-profit, employment, and tax laws. Student-attorneys also engage in affirmative litigation on behalf of tenant associations that are fighting to preserve decent, safe and affordable housing for low-income tenants.
    • State and Local Policy Initiatives Supporting Worker Cooperatives and Employee Ownership

      A working google document showcasing policies, resolutions and budget initiatives passed nationally that support cooperative development.

    Consulting Services and Trainings

      Here's a list of trainings and consulting services that specialize in cooperative development.

    • Cooperative Development Services

      Cooperative Development Services is a consulting group that provides a broad range of services for startups and existing co-ops. The following resources were identified as useful resources on their website CDS 4 corners 3 stages- people starting coops CDS Consulting Co-op- Food co-op staff and board CDS Consulting Coop library- People starting Co-ops CDS Consulting Website- People Starting Co-ops. The website includes a section of webinars for food co-op startups.
    • Cooperative Works!

      Cooperative Works! is a national organization of cooperative development centers and practitioners engaged in co-op development. The association sponsors a three part professional development training twice yearly at the University of Wisconsin, Madison in the spring and fall.The CW! Training provides participants with training materials that can be used in their work developing cooperatives. The target audience is CW! members, staff, and independent development consultants.
    • Democracy at Work Institute

      The Democracy at Work Institute offers consulting services to cooperatives, cooperative developers, and organizations exploring whether and how to undertake cooperative development. Services include a network of peer advisors, business and cooperative training, as well as referrals to expereinced professionals. It focuseses on expanding cooperative business ownership to reach those communities most directly affected by social and economic inequality.
    • Green Worker Coop, Coop Academy Curriculum

      Prepares coop entrepreneurs to start up new worker cooperative businesses. Trainings occur over a 24 week period for prospective entrepreneurs with an interest in businesses that will be worker owned and green. Participants work as a team on the startup of a new green worker co-op. Preference is given to groups from the South Bronx, New York.

    Cooperative Extensions

      Here's a list of resources that highlight cooperative development in the agricultural sector.

    • EXtension

      EXtension is a web based collaborative site of Land Grant universities. The site includes a wide range of resources for cooperative extension services to serve agricultural interests. It also has co-op content where collaborative members can share research-based knowledge on the cooperative business model in agriculture and rural communities. The target audiences according to the survey are: agriculturists, general readers, youth, and instructors.
    • National Farmers Union

      National Farmers Union provides links to the state councils and other co-op resources, and a history of cooperatives.
    • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Development

      This site includes an extensive array of publications and research reports about cooperatives in rural America. Historically, the emphasis has been on agricultural cooperatives. The following publications were cited as especially useful in the study. 1.) cIR 11 Cooperatives: What they are and the roles of members, directors, managers, and employees- Instructors, Youth, General, Agriculture 2.) CIR 5 Cooperatives in Agribusiness- Youth, Agriculture, General 3.) CIR 7 Steps to Starting a Co-op- public, community development, entrepreneurs 4.) CIR 45 Series- Agriculture, Instructors, Youth, General 5.) CIR 55 co-ops 101- agriculture, youth, general, instructors 6.) USDA Equity redemption Guide-coop boards 7.) USDA Reports- General Agriculture 8.) SR 58 Feasibility Study Guide- agriculture, general 9.) Rural Coops Magazine-Community


    Toolboxes for Developing Co-ops

    • American Worker Cooperative

      This site was developed by John Whitman with contributions of a number of colleagues to provide a centralized wiki for anyone interested in how to start a worker co-op. There are links to a wide range of topics related to the successful development of worker co-ops. One source identified through the survey is “28 Questions for Your Worker Cooperative to Answer Before Meeting with Your Incorporation Lawyer.” Another resource that can be accessed from this site that was cited as worthwhile is Think Outside the Boss. Resources on this site are appropriate both for developing curriculum in higher education as well as for a general audience.
    • Cooperative Development Institute

      Cooperative Development Institute is a cooperative development center servicing New York and New England. The website includes CDI's How to Start a Co-op Packet PDF file which outlines the basics of co-operatives and has other resources for groups interested in starting a cooperative. In addition, CDI maintains a blog that links to educational opportunities, job opportunities and various links to introduction sites and toolboxes.
    • Cooperative Housing Toolbox: A Practical Guide for Cooperative Success

      Free online PDF published by the Northoounty Cooperative Foundation.
    • Cooperatives UK

      A UK cooperative website with information to aid in starting a co-op. The website includes links to information for startups and conversions of existing business, case examples and a directory of UK cooperatives.
    • Cooperative Housing Development Toolbox: A Guide for Successful Community Development

      Free online PDF published by the Northoounty Cooperative Foundation.
    • In Good Company: The Guide To Cooperative Employee Ownership

      These publications are available for a fee of $15 in hard copy or they can be downloaded from the foundation web site. The toolbox pubications are intended to serve as an introductory manual for the development of a cooperative. They cover the full range of issues – legal, financial and membership – which should be addressed in the creation of the firm. The housing co-op materials assume some knowledge of real estate finance.
    • A Practical Guide to Community Supported Agriculture on Reservation

      Free online PDF published by the Northoounty Cooperative Foundation
    • Seeds for Change

      A set of resources on consensus based decision making and facilitation; effective meeting facilitation; development of worker co-ops; and direct action campaigns.
    • Worker Cooperative Start Up Guides

      This webpage highlights over twenty start-up toolkits for forming worker cooperatives in the United States.