Cooperation in Childcare

Last month researchers, developers, academics, and cooperators got together to discuss the following question: how can we use success stories to build out childcare cooperatives as a solution to the problems in NYC? The convening centered around a report done by the Federation of Protestant Welfare Communities, the Democracy at Work Institute, and the ICA Group. According to this research, 52% of low income families in NYC are in need of subsidized childcare, and only 1 out of every 4 of these families are actually accessing these programs (the most common of which are Early Learn, Universal Pre K, Head Start, and Family Child Care).   The problem? Some of these programs are seasonal; for example, Universal Pre K only runs until June. Costs remain between $16,000 and $21,00 per year per child; with inadequate government reimbursement, many New Yorkers (including childcare workers themselves) cannot afford childcare High worker turnover (25%-50%) in an industry that is part time for most workers Low wages, with the average childcare worker making $12 an hour in NYC, combined with lack of benefits Inadequate […]

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LGBTQ Accessibility in Co-ops

Just last month, worker-owners from Sunset Scholars Tutoring Cooperative and Trusty Amigos Dogwalking Cooperative held a workshop on LGBTQ competency for worker-owners and allies. A representative from the NYC Commission on Human Rights came to meet the following goals: Increase cultural competency so that co-ops can work professionally with members of the LGBTQ community, including both clients and members Build awareness within cooperatives so that they can be more open, welcoming, and safe spaces Help members understand the difference between ‘gender’ and ‘sexuality’ Support members in practicing how to effectively communicate with/about LGBTQ issues The workshop contained detailed and shocking statistics, increasing awareness around the disparate wages earned, education accessed, and promotions received amongst queer-identified workers, especially people who identify as transgender and gender non-conforming. Participants shared stories, strategies, and questions in a lively and important conversation. Given that queer- and trans- identified individuals are actively shut out of our current economic system, it is especially important that cooperatives—which have the potential to provide necessary access to dignified workplaces for so many marginalized communities—push conversations about LGBTQ inclusion forward. Further, […]

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Snapshot: Joe Rivera and Carlos Martinez

Founding members of Sunset Scholars Tutoring Cooperative How did you first get into this work? I was actually the youngest member in Sunset Scholars. What motivated me the most was my drive to help others and I guess one of the big causes was when  Jia Lin was telling us about the actual education problems within Sunset Park and how some kids are falling behind. While she talked about the Asian community, I already had some input about what the expectation was of Hispanics in this kind of environment. I heard a lot of kids say that they weren’t really motivated to go to college or college wasn’t really an option for them. – Carlos My friend’s grandmother was a social worker at Center for Family Life and knew I was in education, so she suggested I go in. I liked the idea of unity and being my own boss and I am really into this old/new method of collaborative working. I just really liked it. – Joe What does ‘Solidarity Economy’ mean to you? Solidarity means all people working […]

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Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy

From June 9-11, cooperators from around the country gathered at Fordham University Lincoln Center to attend the Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy (ECWD). The ECWD is a non-profit cooperative organization. It is managed by a coordination council elected by the ECWD general membership, and they work in close partnership with the United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives. The conference, held every year in the Eastern United States, exposes people to the concept of worker-ownership, and develops relationships between cooperatives, labor institutions, and resource organizations. This year’s conference featured a variety of workshops, starting off with a day of pre-conference sessions which included a day-long workshop on “Advancing the Development of Worker Cooperatives,” facilitated by Jessica Gordon Nembhard. Participants discussed not only the practical aspects of building and sustaining a worker-owned business, but also the political and theoretical framework and future of the cooperative movement. Other Friday sessions included a legal intensive as well as a bookkeeping intensive. Saturday and Sunday were filled with different workshops, including some shining a spotlight on important aspects of the solidarity economy movement that get less […]

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Board of Directors Training

On July 15th, people from different cooperatives in different sectors—Bushwick Food Cooperative, the New York Network of Worker Cooperatives, Central Brooklyn Food Cooperative, the Real Estate Investment Cooperative, and Westchester Food Cooperative (in Pennsylvania)—came out to Brooklyn Commons to learn about how to better serve as a cooperative Board member. Facilitators Jim Johnson and Lauryl Berger Chun—both seasoned cooperators and certified facilitators—went over a range of topics with participants, including but not limited to: fiduciary responsibility, cooperative principles, job descriptions, and fundraising. Participants were given time to break out and workshop issues they are facing in their particular cooperative while troubleshooting with other folks with different perspectives. This training, intended as an introductory survey workshop on being a Board member of a cooperative, served as a great entry point for those new to either cooperatives or Board seats. We are looking forward to developing this assistance further and continuing to utilize popular education methods and peer-to-peer learning in order to facilitate stronger conversation across cooperatives and across sectors. Thank you so much to Brooklyn Commons for offering the space and Bed Stuy Fresh […]

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