Worcester Roots began its latest Co-op Academy this month—an advanced-level academy for co-ops that have already been through a basic co-op academy. Building on their knowledge from the previous academy, co-operators dig deeper into topics with the intention of making decisions and moving their co-ops forward.
On Wednesday, October 8th, 15-20 co-operators from approximately 8 start-ups or conversions met in Worcester, Mass., to discuss in more depth their options for legal entities and governing documents (by-laws or operating agreements). Students from the Roger Williams University School of Law Community Economic Development Clinic in Rhode Island as well as Attorney Donald Kreis from Vermont presented on the topics. In keeping with the advanced format, the presenters briefly highlighted the main issues and then broke into separate discussion groups so that participants would have a chance to ask questions specific to their co-ops. Some of the themes the groups talked about were setting up an equitable internal governance structure that accounts for experienced members versus newer members, the applicability of new legal entity forms to cooperatives and issues concerning financing including accepting outside investors while maintaining co-op principles.
The academy will run for eight weeks. In addition to in-depth legal and governance support, it will provide business planning assistance, mentorship and a community of co-ops facing similar challenges.
–Gowri Krishna, Director, Community Economic Development Clinic, Roger Williams University School of Law. We are delighted to have Gowri join CDI as our latest board member!