(SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO)—In a meeting with the Commission on Cooperatives and Non-profit Organizations in San Juan, NCBA CLUSA Chief Operating Officer, Amy Coughenour Betancourt, supported a newly formed youth cooperative—Coopare—focused on advancing youth development and leadership among Puerto Rican youth. The meeting with the Commission was intended to promote the mission of Coopare and seek resources and support.
“Puerto Rico has a rich and long history in the cooperative movement, and in many ways, has been a pioneer. However, it is important to continue to foster the next generation of leaders, and Coopare is a great vehicle for this,” explains Coughenour.
Coopare focuses on the development of the arts, recreation, and business among youth. It formed with the support of COSIANI, an early childhood education services cooperative that provides professional development, training, and services within the early childhood education field.
Coopare got its start by addressing two particular needs—first, the need for quality summer camps for children, and the need for Puerto Rican youth to develop job and leadership skills. They worked with COSIANI to support its network of summer camps by recruiting and vetting youth volunteers. These camps are carried out in collaboration with the housing cooperative sector.
As Coopare developed, it recognized the need for leadership training and the provision of services to organizations interested in reaching the youth segment. It began delivering workshops, training, and other outreach services to help young people develop their skills.
Now, the 42 youth member owners of Coopare have a bigger vision. “We want to bring together the youth cooperatives around Puerto Rico and create a network of cooperative development and leadership,” shared Coopare’s President, Jan Milton Bayón. DeMarie Valentin, Director of COSIANI added: “This vision includes learning from one another and connecting with other youth cooperatives in other parts of the world.”
“The potential of this group is tremendous,” stated Michael Rivera de Jesus, technical officer of the Commission. “There is a big demand for the services that they provide.”