IMPACT 2021 sessions echo challenge to embrace our co-op identity


Under the theme, “Embracing Our Co-op Identity,” the 2021 Cooperative IMPACT Conference will challenge cooperators everywhere to deepen their understanding of the values and principles that truly make cooperative enterprise unique.

Embracing the cooperative identity goes beyond understanding it in the academic sense; it also provides an opportunity to act on that deeper understanding. Whether working to dismantle racism, build resilience in the face of climate change or preserve small businesses during a pandemic, last year reminded us that cooperatives have the greatest impact when cooperators live up to their values and principles.

This year’s programming echoes the challenge to embrace our cooperative identity. Keep reading for a snapshot of some of the sessions we’re working to bring you this fall, and look for new sessions coming soon!

We hope you’ll be a part of this year’s hybrid conference from October 4-8. Early-bird pricing is only in effect through August 15, so register now to lock in our exclusive rate of $50 for NCBA CLUSA members and $75 for non-members on all virtual programming. Please note that our in-person programming on October 7 and 8 is available at an additional fee to help cover venue and food costs. If you plan to attend one or both days of our in-person programming at the National Press Club on October 7 and 8, please add “Thursday In-Person” and/or “Friday In-Person” under “Additional Items” during registration.

As always, our dedicated international development programming is available to practitioners free of charge.

Register now

Actualizing the Cooperative Difference in Home Care

Backed by three years of sector benchmarking data, we know that home care cooperatives provide better jobs to caregivers than non-cooperative agencies. Home care cooperatives pay better wages, go above and beyond state minimum required training, reduce isolation, and provide meaningful opportunities for caregivers to engage in ownership, advocacy and career growth. While these are meaningful gains for an industry that’s rooted in slavery and has been upheld by systematic racism and sexism, values-driven employers continue to struggle for long term sustainability in order to provide caregivers their dues. In order to make a career in caregiving a desirable profession, we must meaningfully transform the industry, and the path to transformation is cooperation.

Cooperatives and the Post-COVID Economy

Expert researchers led by NCBA CLUSA’s Cooperative Economics Council (CEC) will detail the economic conditions shaping the near future for cooperatives. The COVID-19 pandemic and resounding calls demanding social justice have changed how cooperatives approach remote work, workforce development, marketing and more. Questions considered will include: “Which economic realities did the COVID-19 pandemic expose?”, “How do we recruit and retain emerging talent in our cooperatives?”, “What are cooperatives saying about COVID-19’s lingering impacts on their businesses?”, “What can forecasts tell us about cooperative economics going into 2022?” and “How do we ensure that our business practices align both with our cooperative identity and with calls for creating an equitable and just society?”

Made for Co-ops, By Co-ops: The Development of Cooperative-Designed SDG Indicators

This interactive workshop will amplify the opportunity to make a difference globally by measuring and reporting on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Through measuring and reporting on SDG impact, individual co-ops and the co-op sector can differentiate from other businesses or enterprises, thus enhancing and living the cooperative identity.

Place-Based Co-op Development Through a Racial Equity Lens

This year, the country confronted the repercussions of systemic racism from the widespread protests against police violence to the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on communities of color. As communities look to rebuild their economies, the cooperative model is responding to the needs, opportunities and challenges of specific geographies. This panel will feature two organizations that are developing co-ops with a place-based focus on racial equity and building wealth—the Washington Area Investment Fund (Wacif) and North Carolina Employee Ownership Center.

Reimagining Cooperative Appalachia

The “ReImagine Appalachia” (ReIA) policy transformation initiative, representing a powerful coalition of more than 60 activist, business, think tank and community organizations from across Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, is gaining nationwide attention and traction. An important subset is “Appalachia Cooperates” led by pioneering practitioners and leaders represented by the six panelists who have agreed to showcase examples of how the rising Appalachian Cooperative Economy enables America’s “Just Transition” in “building back better and fairer.” Vernon Oakes, who grew up in West Virginia and unites the U.S. cooperative community through the weekly “Everything Coop” radio broadcast, will moderate this panel.

Scaling Cooperatives Through a Multi-Stakeholder Network: A Case Study in the Colorado Solar Energy Industry

Based on a case study by Júlia Martins Rodrigues and Nathan Schneider, this session offers a powerful approach to expanding the cooperative economy. Starting with entrepreneurs in the Colorado solar energy industry, they developed a multi-stakeholder network of single-stakeholder co-ops, combining a worker co-op, purchasing co-op, shared-services co-op, credit union and investment co-op. This network offers what could be a replicable model for scaling cooperative businesses despite the challenges of accessing capital. Bringing together co-op employees and researchers, this session will highlight specific strategies for how others can learn from this example.

The Road to Equitable Recovery: What’s Now Possible With Worker Ownership?

Communities across the country face a long and uneven road to recovery. Worker ownership offers a proven strategy for retaining and creating quality jobs, cultivating and anchoring local ownership, and saving long-standing businesses from preventable closures. The question is how can we make sure worker ownership is included in local and state recovery plans? During this session, the Democracy at Work Institute and the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives will explain why now is the time to embrace the identity and values of worker ownership when making the case government action.

Understanding Governance Practices Across Sectors

In 2021, the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives (UWCC) launched the Cooperative Governance Research Initiative (CGRI), the first national, cross-sector, longitudinal survey on cooperative governance practices in the United States. This session will feature an overview of CGRI’s preliminary findings as well as a dialogue on the opportunities and challenges of working across sectors and with practitioners to collect good data on cooperative governance practices. The discussion will be based on the direct experiences of those working to launch CGRI. Participants will be invited to reflect on the prospects and pitfalls of this type of research and how the lessons we are learning through this project can be used to improve governance practices across sectors.

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