Co-Op Development Center

What We Believe In (It’s Our Mission)

To build a more just, healthy, thriving and inclusive economy through cooperative enterprises in

Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming

Free Co-op Education and Development Services Available for Lower-Income Denver Residents

DENVER, CO – Resources to help people organize and establish their own cooperative business enterprises are now available to lower-income Denver residents. The Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) Co-op Development Center is providing education, consulting, and technical development services at no cost to qualified individuals and groups.

“There’s so much knowledge already in our communities about helping businesses, but when it comes to cooperative ventures, the common reaction is bewilderment,” says Caroline Savery, RMFU’s cooperative development specialist. Ms. Savery is leading the outreach, education, and consulting work in Metro Denver.

The co-op business model offers many benefits to both their members and communities. In a co-op, the members are also the owners. In the case of worker co-ops, that can translate into job stability, better pay, increased opportunity to build financial assets and a positive workplace culture. Additionally, money spent in co-ops has been shown to circulate more within their communities which strengthens the local economies.

“Though our Center has been around for more than 20 years, we’ve generally served rural populations due to a lack of funding for urban co-op development. Once leading local foundations began to understand the multiple ways co-ops benefit their members and communities, co-op development began to be prioritized,” says Bill Stevenson, executive director of the RMFU Cooperative Development Center. “We are thrilled to be able to provide support that meets people ‘where they’re at,’ and leverages this recent wave of interest in co-ops,” he adds.

These efforts are amplified by a burgeoning commitment by “co-op supporters” in the region including organizations such as Rocky Mountain Employee Ownership Center and Metro Denver Community Wealth Building Network, and grassroots projects like the Colorado Co-op Investment Club and the Colorado Co-op Study Circle, which produces a monthly radio show on co-op topics (Co-op Power Hour on KGNU).

RMFU’s Cooperative Development Center aims to build a more just, healthy, thriving, and inclusive economy through cooperative enterprises. Serving Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming since 1997, the Co-op Center supports cooperative businesses during and after start-up with feasibility studies, business plans, capitalization support, board and staff training, fiscal sponsorship, and other services. The Co-op Center has recently supported several Denver-based co-ops, including Walk2Connect, My Nanny Solution, and Community Language Cooperative. For more information, contact Caroline Savery at 860-965-2758 or caroline.savery@rmfu.org.

WHAT: Free technical assistance, education, and information about the co-op model.
WHO: Lower-income individuals (and organizations that serve lower-income people)
WHERE: Metro Denver
WHEN: Immediately
WHY: Because cooperatives can have multiple benefits for individuals and their communities, including economic empowerment.
HOW: Please email Caroline Savery or call 860-965-2758


 

RMFU Co-op Development Center Putting USDA Grant to Work

Helping farm workers and people who provide rural home care develop their own cooperatives is taking a major step forward, thanks to the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Foundation and the United States Department of Agriculture. The Foundation applied for and was awarded a $200,000 Rural Cooperative Development Grant for calendar year 2018 to work on a wide variety of projects. Besides farm labor worker cooperatives and rural home care worker cooperatives, the RMFU Foundation’s 2018 work will include food hubs and value food chain businesses, land access for small and beginning farmers, and outreach to numerous groups regarding the benefits of the cooperative business model.

“These funds are essential to helping groups with common goals organize and own their own businesses,” says RMFU Executive Director Ben Rainbolt. “The cooperative business model works especially well in rural communities.”

“We applaud RMFU for their 20 years of assisting rural Colorado in cooperative and economic development, which strengthens our state’s agriculture industry,” says Senator Michael Bennet. “This funding from USDA will enable them to build upon their work and provide more opportunities for Colorado’s rural communities.”

Cooperative businesses are locally-controlled and managed to benefit both customers and the local owners. Typically, cooperative businesses provide services otherwise not available or at a lower cost and the earnings stay in the community.

“We are grateful for the support of U.S. Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado,” adds Rainbolt. “We are thrilled to be in this partnership to grow local economies and new opportunities across the state.”

The RMFU Cooperative Development Center is celebrating 20 years of bring cooperative businesses from the planning stages to full operation. The Center provides services ranging from feasibility studies and fundraising to start-up and ongoing support.