The Canadian Worker Co-op Federation (CWCF) is excited to launch its online Worker Co-op Academy. We have been working together with the Réseau COOP (Quebec’s multi-sector worker co-op federation) to adapt and translate their Parcours worker co-op training and development program, which is taught in French in Quebec, for provinces outside of Quebec.* Parcours was initially delivered in Montreal in a classroom format, but in March 2020, Parcours pivoted to online training because of the pandemic. CWCF’s Worker Co-op Academy has been inspired by the Parcours, but will include its own unique elements.
CWCF’s Academy will enable start-up groups to work collaboratively to develop their worker co-op enterprises with the help of experienced co-op developers. Like Parcours, the goal is to facilitate the launch of successful worker co-op enterprises.
The Academy is open to groups of entrepreneurs (minimum 3 members) who have already developed a working relationship with each other and have a business concept that is ready to move forward into the business planning stage of their enterprise. In addition to worker co-ops (enterprises owned by their employees or by independent contractors), we will also welcome multi-stakeholder co-operatives that have substantial worker control.
The Worker Co-op Academy will be delivered online tentatively starting in the week of June 21. This initial pilot delivery will help CWCF test its process, tools and virtual aspects.
The training will be delivered by Russ Christianson, who will lead the groups through 14 workshops over a period of five months.
Key topics covered include:
- Enterprise concept, vision, mission, and value proposition
- Co-operative Entrepreneurship
- Collective Management
Each group will receive 20 hours of one-on-one coaching by a professional co-op developer, who will also review the groups’ draft documents.
The cost of the program is $3,000 +G/HST per group. CWCF Is offering bursaries for up to $2,350 +G/HST of this amount for a cost to the group of $650 + G/HST.
It is expected that the group members will actively participate in the Academy, including one group session per week of approximately 2.5 hours, reading documents, and working on various elements to launch their worker co-op: creating a shared vision, market research, business plan, incorporation documents, etc. This will require a time commitment of approximately 5 to 7 hours per week, on average.
Upon review of your group’s application, CWCF will determine whether or not to admit your group to this first training program. If your group is accepted, your group will need to commit to the expectations of the Worker Co-op Academy’s program which are outlined in a letter of agreement. One of the commitments is that if co-op launches, it will be expected to become a Regular Member of CWCF, both so that you can have the advantage of supports from the Federation and so that you can help “pay it forward” to other groups. Your new co-op’s first year of dues will be covered by the tuition in the Academy. You can review CWCF member benefits here; the types of members here; and about dues at this link.
Although the Academy is open to all, CWCF would like to encourage applications by groups led by equity-deserving populations including BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour), youth, women and non-binary people.
If you want to find out more about what a worker co-op is please join us in our webinar “What is a worker co-op“. Note that this is also a prerequisite for those who are planning to apply for the program.
*Note that if your co-op will launch in Quebec, we refer you instead to the Parcours COOP program; see this link.