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The Cooperative Foundation financed a study of cooperative education needs and resources in 2014.

Cooperative Education Inventory Study – Summary

As a funder of groups developing new cooperative education materials, The Cooperative Foundation commissioned a study to answer the following questions:

  • How do we assess that the materials are being produced by the best available source?
  • How do we assure that the materials are available for use beyond the local or regional organization?
  • How do we assure that there is not unnecessary duplication of effort among these organizations?

Major lesson: Need for materials “in the middle.”

  • Basic information – plenty of documents and websites that provide basic information on what is a co-op, the seven co-op principles, the different types of co-ops.
  • Research information – a variety of academic level information provided by researchers in peer reviewed journals. (These materials can only be used among a well-educated audience.)
  • Mid- level information – Need for practical information beyond the introductory level.

Specifically, what should the mid-level materials cover?

  • Human resources specific to co-ops
    • Leadership challenges in the co-op setting
    • Conflict management
  • Cooperative finance
    • Co-op financial structure
    • Internal capital accounts for worker co-ops
    • Financial decision making for members and boards
  • Co-op law
    • State specific
    • Incorporation options (LLC, L3C, nonprofit vs. for profit)
  • Operations and governance specific to co-ops
    • alternatives to Roberts Rules of Order and Carver model of policy governance

How should the mid-level materials be presented?

  • Culturally varied
  • Simple vocabulary, less text heavy layouts, break down materials into manageable units without oversimplifying the information
    • Easily modified for use among underserved or cultural groups
    • Easily translated
  • Participatory and interactive methods of presentation
    • Easily placed on websites
    • Use of games (such as co-opoloy)
    • Suggestions for group exercises, interactive simulation activities

Who should produce co-op education materials?

  • Those with experience in co-op development
  • Those with demonstrated skills in curriculum development and popular education techniques
  • Those willing to share materials

Related Materials:

Cooperative Education Inventory Study: Complete Report

List of cooperative educators and developers

Annotative bibliography of useful cooperative education materials

Cooperative Education Inventory Study Webinar: