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...

Center for Family Life

The Center for Family Life (CFL) is a nonprofit, social service organization focused on promoting positive outcomes for children, adults, and families in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood.  Aiming to help area residents secure fair wages and dignified employment, CFL began incubating worker-owned cooperatives eight years ago.  Recognizing the potential of the model to create job opportunities for hard-to-employ populations, in 2012 CFL launched a NYC Worker Cooperative Development Initiative, which provides 12 months of training and technical assistance to other community-based groups in Read more about Center for Family Life...

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...

Mariposa Food Co-op

Founded in 1961, Mariposa has undergone rapid expansion, surging from 300 members in 2006 to 700 members in 2008. Mariposa is one of only three remaining food cooperatives in the United States that requires membership in order to shop. Mariposa has only five part-time staff and relies heavily on its members, who must work two hours once every four weeks. Read more about Mariposa Food 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 15,500 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...

Worker Cooperatives

Mandela Foods Cooperative

Established in 2009, Mandela Foods Cooperative is a worker-owned, full-service, 23,000 square foot grocery store located in West Oakland, California that helps fill the need for healthy food options in a community that has been historically underserved in grocery retail. It offers an example of using a cooperative to fill needs in a food desert. Mandela has a series of community service goals. It seeks to expand and promote local buying power and employment opportunity through its efforts to increase purchasing from small farms within a 170 mile radius of Oakland. Read more about Mandela Foods Cooperative...

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...

Center for Family Life

The Center for Family Life (CFL) is a nonprofit, social service organization focused on promoting positive outcomes for children, adults, and families in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood.  Aiming to help area residents secure fair wages and dignified employment, CFL began incubating worker-owned cooperatives eight years ago.  Recognizing the potential of the model to create job opportunities for hard-to-employ populations, in 2012 CFL launched a NYC Worker Cooperative Development Initiative, which provides 12 months of training and technical assistance to other community-based groups in Read more about Center for Family Life...

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...

Mariposa Food Co-op

Founded in 1961, Mariposa has undergone rapid expansion, surging from 300 members in 2006 to 700 members in 2008. Mariposa is one of only three remaining food cooperatives in the United States that requires membership in order to shop. Mariposa has only five part-time staff and relies heavily on its members, who must work two hours once every four weeks. Read more about Mariposa Food 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 15,500 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...

Worker Cooperatives

Mandela Foods Cooperative

Established in 2009, Mandela Foods Cooperative is a worker-owned, full-service, 23,000 square foot grocery store located in West Oakland, California that helps fill the need for healthy food options in a community that has been historically underserved in grocery retail. It offers an example of using a cooperative to fill needs in a food desert. Mandela has a series of community service goals. It seeks to expand and promote local buying power and employment opportunity through its efforts to increase purchasing from small farms within a 170 mile radius of Oakland. Read more about Mandela Foods Cooperative...

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...