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About the Cooperative Leadership Institute (CLI)

The CLI is a six month program structured in three weekends — Leading Yourself, Leading Others, and Leading Your Cooperative — and two standalone workshops to be determined based on the skills and interests of cohort members.

The CLI aims to strengthen the cooperative economy in the Philadelphia area by:

  • Providing rigorous leadership training opportunities for cooperative leaders.
  • Supporting the leaders we have and teaching them the skills to be more effective.
  • Establishing a network of local cooperative leaders for peer-to-peer learning and skill sharing between co-ops in the Philadelphia area.
  • Developing a Philadelphia co-op identity and a cadre of leaders to grow the regional cooperative movement.
Grace Lee Boggs (yellow)


CLI participants will develop skills that are applicable across co-op sectors. The topics include leadership, co-op culture, goal setting, delegation, accountability, trust building, conflict resolution, communication, creative problem solving, and participatory management.

The CLI utilizes project based learning, skill practicing and simulations, and mentorship or coaching opportunities. The CLI will increase participants’ awareness of their personal learning and communication styles, as well as their leadership strengths and challenges.

The CLI curriculum focuses on:

  • Leadership Development: Building leadership capacity (individual, organizational, and network/movement);
  • Skill Building: Building the knowledge base and core competencies related to managing and growing a cooperative business.
  • Network Development: Building and connecting the network of people and cooperatives here in the Philadelphia area and beyond.

CLI 2016 Graduates Speak

“I'm very satisfied with the work I did at the CLI, personally and professionally. The course challenged me and helped me transform my relationships at work and beyond.”

— Rosie Glade, 2016 CLI graduate from W/N W/N Coffee Bar

“I've already started sharing this information with my co-op and I've noticed a marked improvement in how we communicate with each other, not only about tasks but about our deeper interests and emotions that play into discussions within the co-op. ”

— Claire Pope, 2016 CLI graduate from Rad Dish Co-op Cafe

“Thank you for a wonderful training experience.”

— Stephanie Erby, CLI 2016 graduate from Oaks Management

“What I liked most about the program was the networking opportunities. I built strong relationships with individuals in the programs and with presenters, I value this very much”.

— Staff Member and CLI 2016 graduate from Mariposa Food Co-op

“I've said to several friends and colleagues that the experience was one of the most rewarding professional experiences I've had yet, and I continue to feel that way. We were challenged in meaningful ways, found common ground, and built relationships that (like all good relationships) have honest and clear communication at their cores.”

— David Morgan, CLI 2016 graduate from Toolbox for Education and Social Action

1) Group CLI 2016

Our approach:  

We believe that relationships are at the heart of good leadership. Participants will learn skills to strengthen the relationships within their team, their cooperative and their community to sustain and grow the business. The CLI is inspired and informed by the models of Servant Leadership and Distributed Leadership.  

"We need group-centered leadership."
— Ella Baker
"We need group-centered leadership." — Ella Baker

Who Should Apply

Eligible applicants will:

  • Currently be employed at a cooperative in the Philadelphia area.
  • Have worked at a cooperative for a minimum of one year.
  • Be in a leadership position.
  • Have a strong desire to learn new skills and grow their leadership capacity.

Preference will be given to applicants from PACA member cooperatives.

You should apply if:

  • You want to improve your skills as a cooperative leader and be more effective.
  • You have amazing ideas and need help implementing them.
  • You are a manager or department coordinator.
  • You are a leader of an advanced start-up cooperative.
  • You consider yourself a leader at your cooperative or consistently find yourself in leadership roles.
  • You would benefit from a peer network of cooperators.
  • You want to connect to the Philadelphia cooperative community.
  • Your cooperative business is growing and you want to grow with it!
  • You are ready to move up and take on more responsibility.
2) CLI Working 2016

How to Apply

Apply online to the CLI using this form. Applications are due on Sunday, April 16 at 11:59 pm.

Program Cost and Scholarships

Participation in the CLI 2017 cohort will cost $1,100 per participant. Principle Six Club and PACA members will receive a $100 off the tuition of the CLI. We strongly encourage participants coming from food cooperatives to apply for the Howard Bowers Fund, and rural folks, regardless of industry, the Ralph K. Morris Fund.

  • Howard Bowers Fund - Grants for training and education of food co-op staff, managers, and board members, $1000 – $3000. The application deadline is March 15!
  • Ralph K. Morris Fund - provides financial support to help cover costs associated with training, professional development and educational programs for rural young leaders interested in the future of cooperatives and rural communities.




Monday, March 13
12-12:45 pm

Sunday, March 26
11-11:45 am

Thursday, April 13
6-6:45 pm

Informational Webinars

Before applying, please attend a CLI Applicant Informational Webinar. Email to RSVP and to receive the login information.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Applications due by 11:59 pm EST

Monday, May 1, 2017

Selection Committee notifies participants of acceptance to program.

Weekend of June 16-18

Friday 1:00-6pm

Saturday, 10:00 am-6:30 pm

Sunday, 10:00 am-3:30 pm

Leading Yourself

Three day kick-off retreat (required)

Weekend of July 22-23

Saturday, 10:00 am-6:30 pm

Sunday, 10:00 am-3:30 pm

Leading Others

Two day retreat (required)

September 7

Thursday, 10am-2pm EST

Workshop One


Weekend of October 7-8

Saturday, 10:00 am-6:30 pm

Sunday, 10:00 am-3:30 pm

Leading Your Cooperative

Two day retreat (required)

November 2

Thursday, 10:00 am-4 pm EST

Workshop Two

Final Presentations & Graduation (required)


How can area cooperatives support their leaders throughout the CLI program?

  • Provide financial support
  • Apply for the Howard Bowers fund scholarship due on March 15, 2017 on behalf of your cooperative so that individual leaders don’t have to scramble to do it
  • Provide paid time to attend the trainings
  • Be thoughtful about scheduling on Mondays and Fridays so that leaders have a time to process their learning before rushing back to work
  • Cheerlead their success!
  • Look for growth opportunities for them by inviting them to important meetings or providing a challenging task where they can practice their new skills and learnings
  • Before they start the program ask them to create a plan for how they will share their learnings with the rest of the cooperative_
  • Ask what they are learning about