Worker Co-op Academy

 

The Canadian Worker Co-op Federation (CWCF) is excited to offer its online Worker Co-op Academy. We worked 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 at the start of the Covid19 pandemic, Parcours pivoted to online training.   CWCF’s Worker Co-op Academy, also offered by distance, has been inspired by the Parcours but includes its own unique elements. 

CWCF’s Academy enables 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 next Worker Co-op Academy will be delivered online tentatively starting in June 2022.  This is the second offering, with CWCF having tested the Academy’s process, tools and virtual aspects first in 2021.   

The training is delivered by Russ Christianson, who leads the groups through 14 workshops over a period of approximately five to six months.

Key topics covered include:

  1. Enterprise concept, vision, mission, and value proposition
  2. Co-operative Entrepreneurship
  3. Collective Management
  4. Marketing
  5. Finances
  6. Operations
  7. Governance

Each group receives 20 hours of one-on-one coaching by a professional co-op developer, who 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, in most cases, 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 requires 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 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 encourages applications by groups led by equity-deserving populations including BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour), youth, people with disabilities, 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“, offered monthly except in July and August.   Note that this is also a prerequisite for those who are planning to apply for the program.  

The intake process, intake form and application form can all be found here. If you have any questions feel free to contact Kaye Grant

*Note that if your co-op will launch in Quebec, we refer you instead to the Parcours COOP program; see this link