The program has 3 components: (1) the Grant Program, (2) the Co-op Index Program, and (3) the free CWCF Staff Consultation Program. In the first two components, there is a total of $9,000 available per year[i]. Generally, 6 worker co-ops or multi-stakeholder co-ops[ii] will be able to receive assistance under the Grant Program, and/or the Co-op Index Program each year.
Due to the small amount of funds available in this program and the limited administrative resources in CWCF, the enclosed application provides the CWCF with preliminary screening of the potential projects. To pass this first stage, your group must be approved as an eligible co-op that meets the strategic priorities of CWCF. CWCF will seek to ensure that grants are allocated fairly over different regions of the country.
There is no set deadline, as applications are reviewed on a rolling basis.
 NOTE: Worker co-op member dues in CWCF are the equivalent of under $1 / week for each $33,000 in wages, and this formula has never changed since CWCF was started over 20 years ago. The thinking is that as the worker co-op movement grows, our dues base grows – and this has held true. CWCF receives no ongoing government support, so in order to offer this and other member benefits, member dues are important.
Co-ops wishing to access the Grant and Co-op Index Programs must complete a short application form which is attached below. For the Staff Consulting Program, no application is required.
1. GRANT PROGRAM
OUTLINE OF THE PROGRAM
The Canadian Worker Co-op Federation (CWCF) is offering small grants to assist worker co-ops which are, or agree to become members of CWCF to hire a co-op developer or other professional to help with a challenge which the co-op is facing. Assistance can be sought in any area needed such as marketing, financial administration, governance, conflict resolution, legal issues, etc.
The grants generally cover consulting services provided by members of the CoopZone Developers’ Network or Legal Network. If the person whom the co-op wishes to hire is not a member of the CoopZone Network, please speak to the Executive Director, Hazel Corcoran, and we will seek to make it work.
ELIGIBLE CO-OPS and EVALUATION CRITERIA
This is a benefit for members of the CWCF. In order to apply, a co-op must be a CWCF member. CWCF will evaluate the applications on the basis of whether the co-op is eligible and whether the assistance sought is judged likely to help meet the co-op’s stated challenge. Given the small amount of funds available, it may not be possible to approve all applications which qualify.
Start-up Groups: A few of the grants each year may be allocated to start-up groups working towards incorporation, especially if there is not sufficient demand from the existing members. These groups are required to commit to joining the CWCF upon incorporation. Please contact Hazel Corcoran to determine availability.
We will provide a $1,500 grant for you to hire help to carry out work as mutually agreed among the group, the Developer/consultant and CWCF. For those who will work on a pre-feasibility study, (which we strongly recommend for start-ups & conversions if you have not already completed one), we can provide a list of requirements for a pre-feasibility study.
2. CO-OP INDEX PROGRAM
The Co-op Index is a tool through which you can compare your co-op to an ideal worker co-op, on a long list of variables regarding operations and governance. The focus is on the perceptions of the members and other workers. The analysis prepares the foundation for determining key areas and ways in which to improve the co-op.
The following was written about the tool by Joy Emmanuel, a Co-op Developer with CoopZone:
“This innovative, new diagnostic management tool for worker co-ops was recently developed through the leadership of CWCF members, along with academic partners, working together in a federally funded Community University Research Alliance (CURA) project.
The tool itself is a survey of over 150 multiple choice questions. The instrument is simply called the Worker Co-op Index, but it is a comprehensive tool that provides a snapshot of organizational effectiveness based on member/workers’ perceptions of their overall engagement in managing the affairs of the co-op and how well the international co-op principles and values are integrated into daily operations and processes of the co-op. The Index is based on research which indicates that, as a worker’s engagement in organizational management increases, it is accompanied by increases in worker productivity, motivation and satisfaction, as well as in overall organizational efficiency. This research is grounded in the Total Participation Management theory and provides a guide for understanding the systems and processes concerned with governing a sustainable co-operative enterprise.
As a democratically run business, members of worker co-ops are both employees and members of their collectively run enterprise. Whether the co-op is set up to allow for interchangeable roles among workers or they have designated roles based on acquired skill sets, the worker co-op model encourages a strong level of engagement and a sense of ownership in collectively governing the affairs of the business. One of the underlying assumptions embedded in the tool is that organizational health is reflected in the perceptions and attitudes of the workers. These perceptions can be measured and the aggregate information used to adjust the operations of the co-operative.”
For more information on the tool, contact Kaye Grant. If your co-op may be interested in using the tool, ask Kaye for names of co-op developers in your area who are trained to administer the Index. Kaye can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. The Co-op Index web site is available here .”
Under the Co-op Index program, up to 3 member co-ops can receive support to implement the Co-op Index ($1,500 each) each year.
3. CWCF Staff Consultation Program
Kaye Grant, CWCF Communications Manager and a co-op developer, is available to any member co-op for telephone or Skype-enabled consultations. Start-up groups are also eligible to receive these limited consultations. These consultations are similar to the Free Consulting program held at the CWCF AGMs. Member co-operatives facing any issue may contact Kaye to discuss their situation and to receive suggestions for sources of information, approaches to addressing the issue, or referrals to other co-op developers or professionals. Although these consultations are independent of the Grant Program, they may lead to a recommendation to apply to that program. No application is required; just email Kaye to schedule a consultation (email@example.com).
[i] Over the last several years, CWCF has worked hard to build up our reserves. Because of the success in doing this, we are in the position to offer this program to the members.
[ii] CWCF can work with worker co-ops, multi-stakeholder co-ops as long as there is a class of membership for workers with substantial worker control, and worker-shareholder co-ops.
If you wish to apply here is the application form.