Worker-owned cooperatives, far from being relics of 1960s counter-culture, are re-emerging as powerful tools for creating a new economy based on equity. But how does one help grow the cooperative movement when the vast majority of jobs are still built on the often undemocratic private ownership model? The Worker Coop Academy aims to answer that question.

A partnership between the Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC), Project Equity, the Green Collar Communities Clinic (GC3), the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives, the Sustainable Business Alliance, and Laney College, the Coop Academy is one component of the year-long, multi-organizational, Bay Area Blueprint for Increasing Worker Ownership and is the first project of its kind in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The vision for the academy, which starts this September in the East Bay, is to train teams of three or more people in nearly all aspects of worker cooperatives including governance, management, leadership, business models, culture, and legal issues. The academy is now accepting applications from the following groups of participants:

  • Startups: Founders of new worker cooperatives that are already operating or plan to open in 2014 or 2015
  • Expanders: Members of existing worker coops seeking growth
  • Converters: Owners and employees looking to transition to worker ownership
  • Developers: Staff of organizations developing worker coops that are already operating or that will open in 2014 or 2015.

The goal is to make the Worker Coop Academy an ongoing program and partner with a community college. As the SELC website states, “To increase our impact, we are working with Laney College to accredit and institutionalize portions of the academy curriculum into a course and, hopefully, a certificate program, so it may be offered at community colleges across California.”

Applications are being accepted through August 1st for Phase 1 of the Coop Academy, with a run-time of mid-September through mid-December. Phase 2 will consist of more individualized coaching and legal counsel for a subset of Phase 1 participants.

Interested? Learn more about the scheduled program and apply to the academy. The below SlideShare and Webinar offer more detail about the Bay Area Blueprint for Increasing Worker Ownership and the Worker Coop Academy.



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Cat Johnson


Cat Johnson | |

Cat Johnson is a content strategist and teacher helping community builders create strong brands. A longtime writer, marketing pro and coworking leader, Cat is the founder of Coworking Convos and