Models and Best Practices: Cooperatives

Cooperatives (Co-ops)

Agri-Mark

This Northeastern co-op, owned by 1,450 dairy farmer families, was founded in 1917. It is best known for two of its labels, Cabot Creamery of Vermont and McCadam Cheese of New York. In 2002, the co-op had $550 million in sales and returned $6.8 million in patronage rebates to its members, working out to about $5,000 for a dairy farmer with 100 cows. Read more about Agri-Mark...

Childspace Cooperative Development, Inc.

Working to improve the quality of traditionally low-paid child care workers, Childspace CDI hopes to improve not only workplace conditions but also the care received by children. Childspace CDI, in partnership with worker-owned child care centers, is addressing the issue with a three step strategy – empowering workers; improving financial operations to free up additional resources; and encouraging these workers to advocate for additional subsidies and health insurance. Read more about Childspace Cooperative Development, Inc....

CHS, Inc.

Created in 1998 through the merger of Cenex and Harvest States, two agricultural co-ops whose roots go back to the period of the Great Depression, CHS is the country's largest grain cooperative, with $17.2 billion in sales in 2007. In 2007, CHS returned $253 million in patronage rebates to its member-owners. Read more about CHS, Inc....

Kid's Co-op

Operating for over 20 years, Kid's Co-op is a non-profit parent cooperative, in which parents work as teaching assistants, maintain the buildings and grounds, and organize fund-raisers. The co-op aims to enrich the lives of Las Vegas children and strengthen their families through developmentally appropriate preschool and kindergarten programs, through parent education and through community service. Read more about Kid's Co-op...

Park Slope Food Co-op

The Park Slope Food Coop, located in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn, was founded in 1973 by a small group of committed neighbors. Today the co-op has more than 12,000 members. Unlike many co-ops where paying a fee is sufficient to become a member, members at Park Slope must commit to doing a workshift (there are some exceptions to this work policy for hardship cases) every four weeks in exchange for a 20-40% savings on groceries. The co-op estimates that this form of work exchange means that members do 75% of all co-op labor. Read more about Park Slope Food Co-op...

Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI)

While headquartered across the Sound in Kent, REI began in Seattle in 1938 with 23 mountain climber members. With its flagship store located in the Cascade neighborhood, REI is the largest consumer cooperative in the United States, with more than 3.5 million members and 100 stores nationwide. Selling outdoor recreation gear and sporting goods, REI sales exceeded $1.43 billion in 2008. REI has been ranked every year in FORTUNE magazine's "100 Best Companies to Work For," since the list's inception in 1998. In 2009, it ranked 12th. Read more about Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI)...

Tennessee Farmers Cooperative

Founded in 1945 to ensure dependable sources of products, the Co-op has 57 member cooperatives, with 150 Co-op retail outlets in 83 of Tennessee’s 95 counties. TFC is a federated cooperative system, which means a pyramid of ownership. The farmer members own their local Co-ops and the local Co-ops own TFC. Co-ops offer career training, internships, and 32 yearly scholarships to agricultural students as well as providing farming products and information to its members. Read more about Tennessee Farmers Cooperative...

Weaver Street Market

Weaver Street is a food co-op that combines employee and consumer membership, with each group electing representatives to the co-op's Board of Directors. Currently, Weaver Street has 70 worker-owners and 8,000 consumer-owners. The co-op has expanded greatly in recent years, adding a second storefront and a restaurant operation. It has also supported the development of a housing co-op and serves as the site of many broadcasts of the new local community radio co-op. Read more about Weaver Street Market...

Green Economy

Elevate Energy

Elevate Energy (formerly CNT Energy) is a "think-and-do" tank that combines research with effective solutions. Elevate Energy focuses on helping customers and communities access the information and services they need to control energy costs and to become more energy efficient. Through relationships with municipalities in the Chicagoland region, utilities throughout Illinois, and other non-profit environmental organizations, Elevate Energy is able to achieve actual results in providing innovative solutions to energy challenges.  Read more about Elevate Energy...

Cooperatives (Co-ops)

Agri-Mark

This Northeastern co-op, owned by 1,450 dairy farmer families, was founded in 1917. It is best known for two of its labels, Cabot Creamery of Vermont and McCadam Cheese of New York. In 2002, the co-op had $550 million in sales and returned $6.8 million in patronage rebates to its members, working out to about $5,000 for a dairy farmer with 100 cows. Read more about Agri-Mark...

Childspace Cooperative Development, Inc.

Working to improve the quality of traditionally low-paid child care workers, Childspace CDI hopes to improve not only workplace conditions but also the care received by children. Childspace CDI, in partnership with worker-owned child care centers, is addressing the issue with a three step strategy – empowering workers; improving financial operations to free up additional resources; and encouraging these workers to advocate for additional subsidies and health insurance. Read more about Childspace Cooperative Development, Inc....

CHS, Inc.

Created in 1998 through the merger of Cenex and Harvest States, two agricultural co-ops whose roots go back to the period of the Great Depression, CHS is the country's largest grain cooperative, with $17.2 billion in sales in 2007. In 2007, CHS returned $253 million in patronage rebates to its member-owners. Read more about CHS, Inc....

Kid's Co-op

Operating for over 20 years, Kid's Co-op is a non-profit parent cooperative, in which parents work as teaching assistants, maintain the buildings and grounds, and organize fund-raisers. The co-op aims to enrich the lives of Las Vegas children and strengthen their families through developmentally appropriate preschool and kindergarten programs, through parent education and through community service. Read more about Kid's Co-op...

Park Slope Food Co-op

The Park Slope Food Coop, located in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn, was founded in 1973 by a small group of committed neighbors. Today the co-op has more than 12,000 members. Unlike many co-ops where paying a fee is sufficient to become a member, members at Park Slope must commit to doing a workshift (there are some exceptions to this work policy for hardship cases) every four weeks in exchange for a 20-40% savings on groceries. The co-op estimates that this form of work exchange means that members do 75% of all co-op labor. Read more about Park Slope Food Co-op...

Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI)

While headquartered across the Sound in Kent, REI began in Seattle in 1938 with 23 mountain climber members. With its flagship store located in the Cascade neighborhood, REI is the largest consumer cooperative in the United States, with more than 3.5 million members and 100 stores nationwide. Selling outdoor recreation gear and sporting goods, REI sales exceeded $1.43 billion in 2008. REI has been ranked every year in FORTUNE magazine's "100 Best Companies to Work For," since the list's inception in 1998. In 2009, it ranked 12th. Read more about Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI)...

Tennessee Farmers Cooperative

Founded in 1945 to ensure dependable sources of products, the Co-op has 57 member cooperatives, with 150 Co-op retail outlets in 83 of Tennessee’s 95 counties. TFC is a federated cooperative system, which means a pyramid of ownership. The farmer members own their local Co-ops and the local Co-ops own TFC. Co-ops offer career training, internships, and 32 yearly scholarships to agricultural students as well as providing farming products and information to its members. Read more about Tennessee Farmers Cooperative...

Weaver Street Market

Weaver Street is a food co-op that combines employee and consumer membership, with each group electing representatives to the co-op's Board of Directors. Currently, Weaver Street has 70 worker-owners and 8,000 consumer-owners. The co-op has expanded greatly in recent years, adding a second storefront and a restaurant operation. It has also supported the development of a housing co-op and serves as the site of many broadcasts of the new local community radio co-op. Read more about Weaver Street Market...

Green Economy

Elevate Energy

Elevate Energy (formerly CNT Energy) is a "think-and-do" tank that combines research with effective solutions. Elevate Energy focuses on helping customers and communities access the information and services they need to control energy costs and to become more energy efficient. Through relationships with municipalities in the Chicagoland region, utilities throughout Illinois, and other non-profit environmental organizations, Elevate Energy is able to achieve actual results in providing innovative solutions to energy challenges.  Read more about Elevate Energy...