How To Convert a Business into a Worker-owned Cooperative

Cooperatives represent a growing segment of the economy with an estimated 30,000 enterprises and 100 million members in the U.S. alone. A great way to bring democracy into the workplace, coops can be built from scratch, but they can also be created by converting existing businesses into worker-owned cooperatives. For retiring business owners as well as entrepreneurs, selling a business to employees is a way to strengthen the business while getting a return on investment.

Melissa Hoover, executive director of the Democracy at Work Institute (DAWI), says that coop conversions are one of the most promising sources of new cooperatives as they already have customers, assets and employees, which makes it less risky than a startup. She also notes that those coops created from conversions are among the most passionate members of the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives.

Read more here.

The New Deal Cafe — A Co-op and a lot more

The New Deal Cafe, in Historic Greenbelt, MD is more than just a “Volunteer Cooperative”. It is an award-winning music venue (WTOP’s Top-10 2012 best music venue in the DC region) featuring live music six nights each week (Tuesday through Sunday), with special nights for Open Mic and Comedy, Wine and Beer bar, Middle East food restaurant, and gallery showcase for local artists. And a lot more…

Vernon Oakes Interviews Judy Ziewacz, Interim President of NCBA, today

Tune in to WOL 1450 AM tomorrow for Everything Co-op, hosted by Vernon Oakes. This week Vernon interviews Ms. Judy Ziewacz, Interim President of the National Cooperative Business Association. Vernon and Ms. Ziewacz will discuss her involvement in the cooperative movement, and initiatives of NCBA CLUSA..

For over 40 years, Judy has been a champion for cooperative development, articulating a steady and unswerving vision about the power of cooperation, and persistently reminding cooperatives and cooperative institutions that they exist to empower people. Her incredible capacity as a strategist has resulted in cross-sectoral coalitions that have created critical infrastructure for the co-op community domestically and internationally.

Ziewacz was instrumental in launching the nation’s first statewide cooperative development center – now known as Cooperative Development Services. She also played a key role in establishing CooperationWorks!, a national cooperative development network, which is responsible for the creation of hundreds of co-ops, thousands of jobs, and serving hundreds of thousands of members. As the Executive Director of the Cooperative Development Foundation, she led the charge for the creation of dotCoop, an important branding tool for cooperatives in the internet age.

The National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International (NCBA CLUSA) is the trade association for cooperative businesses in the United States and an international development organization. NCBA CLUSA provides cross-sector advocacy, education and technical assistance that helps cooperative businesses thrive.

To listen live online Click Here!
or Click Here! to Listen on your cell phone with Tune-in Radio

Steps to Starting a Cooperative webinar

As CooperationWorks continues to revamp their co-op developer training program, CW will be partnering with USDA to offer a webinar on steps to starting a new cooperative.

Are you interested in helping organize cooperatives? Not sure how to get started? Looking for a guide on what to do and in what order? Join Margaret Bau, Cooperative Development Specialist with the USDA Rural Development, to learn the steps to organizing a co-op. We will examine the steps from the perspective of a start-up co-op business initiated by a community group. Next we will discuss how the organizing process differs for a co-op incubated by a sponsoring organization. Finally we will outline the steps of converting an existing business to cooperative ownership. This free USDA webinar is presented in partnership with Cooperation Works, the national association of co-op development centers and professionals. The intended audience includes newly hired staff of co-op development centers and those engaged in community economic development.

Steps to Starting a Cooperative

When: Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Time: 2:00 – 3:30 pm EST
If using a phone: Dial: (303) 248-0285; conference ID: 20240324

If possible, please use your computer’s audio and “chat” feature instead of phone lines.

Exciting Worker Cooperative Developments in DC

From Allison:

Coop IA group of us — Jennifer Bryant, Eva Seidelman, Tracy McCurty, Adwoa Masozi, Silvia Salazar, Melody Webb, and a few others — have been meeting over the last year to create a worker cooperative incubator called Cooperation DC. It will be housed in and fiscally sponsored by ONE DC, and will kick off with a training in November.

November events
On Thursday November 5th from 6:30-8:30pm, there will be a community event where we’ll hear from our new and existing coops, make the connection with the national movement, and share ways everyone can support economic democracy in DC. Please RSVP here and spread the word!

Coop IIOn Friday November 6th, we’ll host two convenings — one is a training for small business support organizations so they’re able to include worker cooperatives in their offerings. Another is a convening with government and funders to get the national worker coop movement and our asks on their radar. If you have any suggestions for folks who should be at either of those, please reach out.

On Saturday November 7th, there will be a training for current and potential worker owners. It’ll include financial planning, governance, management structures, financing, and legal. If you know of worker cooperatives in formation who may be interested in attending, please reach out to with details. This one is not a worker coop 101 space — we’ll cover that base at the Thursday event!

We’re raising funds over the coming months to pay for the training and the follow up technical assistance. If you have suggestions for potential funders or donors, or if you can chip in a little yourself, it would make a huge difference in us being able to do this work!

the website
Since the website for Cooperation DC would include many of the same resources on the Coop DC website, we’d like to merge the sites. That would mean that our web developer (Adwoa) would take what’s on the Coop DC page, put it on a fancy wordpress template, add information about the upcoming training, and change the domain to Cooperation Jackson isn’t strictly worker coops, and likewise, it would be great to keep our other solidarity economy (housing coops, for instance) resources on there. Johanna, who’s been doing most of the blog updating, offered to continue doing what she’s doing on the new site, which is wonderful.



A multi-racial, values-driven organization dedicated to practicing democracy; race, gender, and economic equity; and solidarity with communities most affected by the ravages of the current economic system.

We are connectors and co-builders committed to being on the ground in communities and in policy spaces with the goal of greater policy alignment with communities’ experiences.

We are dedicated to working in multi- and interdisciplinary ways, thinking creatively, learning from one another, and sharing our experiences.

For more info:

Ambassador Andrew Young Appears on Everything Co-op 9/24

Vernon Oakes & Andrew YoungTune-in to WOL 1450 AM on Thursday, September 24, at 10:30 am, for Everything Co-op, hosted by Vernon Oakes. This week Vernon interviews Ambassador Andrew Young, Principal and founder of the Andrew J. Young Foundation. Vernon and Ambassador Young will discuss the role he and his Foundation has played in the advancement of the cooperative business model to create economic security for ALL, and the work that is ahead to improve lives and restore dignity.
Andrew J. Young has lived his life in response to a call to service he heard as a young man. From his ordination as a minister, to his work on behalf of civil and human rights, to his public service career as a member of Congress, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and Mayor of Atlanta, he has always answered the call to serve Today, the Andrew J. Young Foundation builds on his legacy by developing and nurturing new generations of innovative leaders to tackle this era’s global challenges.
He has shared his life’s work in three books including: “A Way Out of No Way: The Spiritual Memoirs of Andrew Young,” “An Easy Burden: The Civil Rights Movement and the Transformation of America,” and “Walk in My Shoes: Conversations between a Civil Rights Legend and his Godson on the Journey Ahead,” which was co-authored by Kabir Sehgal.
To listen live online Click Here!
or Click Here! to Listen on your cell phone with Tune-in Radio
To learn more about Ambassador Young, or the Andrew J. Young Foundation Click Here!

P.S. Unfortunately, due to personal circumstances Ambassador Andrew J. Young will not be able to appear on the show tomorrow. However, we are pleased to announce that Ms. Erma Wilburn, Civil Rights Activist and VISTA Volunteer will appear. Vernon and Erma will discuss her role in the Civil Rights Movement, and the worker-owned baking cooperative she is planning at this time.

Erma Wilburn is working as an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service To America), and supports programs and initiatives of the Southwest Georgia Project for Community Education, Inc. VISTA Volunteers serve in nonprofit organizations or local government agencies around the country that focus on addressing the issue of poverty in America. VISTAs provide service in many different capacities: implementing literacy programs and tutoring for underserved children; coordinating volunteers; creating businesses; organizing employment training programs; addressing issues of hunger and much more.
Ms. Wilburn started working on Civil Rights and Social Justice issues throughout Georgia at the tender age of fourteen, under the tutelage of her Aunt Atty, and State representative Mary Young Cummings. Due to her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement and her refusal to say the Pledge of Allegiance, she was expelled from school. She states: “I found it impossible to say the Pledge of Allegiance after spending time in jail for going to a public library.” Fortunately, being expelled gave her an opportunity to attend a preparatory school in Lenox, Massachusetts, which changed the trajectory of her life.
After graduating, she returned to Georgia in 1971, attained her RN Degree, and continued working on voter registration and civil rights issues that concerned her community. Later she became a part of New Communities, a 5,700-acre land trust and farm collective, owned and operated by approximately a dozen black farmers from 1969 to 1985. It was once one of the largest-acreage African American-owned properties in the United States situated in Southwest Georgia. Today, she is in the planning stages of establishing a worker-owned baking cooperative, to address the high employment issue among Black Women in her region.