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The Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance (PACA) is seeking candidates for its 2020 Co-op Developer Fellowship. Funded by CCHD, this program is a paid 5-month opportunity for individuals from low-income/working class backgrounds who are also people of color, including immigrants, looking to strengthen cooperative development skills through training, self-directed education, and hands-on experience. Fellows should live in Philadelphia and will be provided a stipend of $2,000 for their work and study (approximately five hours per week) from July-December 2020. Interested candidates must apply by Monday, June 1, 2020.

Background 

Philadelphia has a deep and colorful history of cooperative economics. From the Lenni-Lenape folks who have been stewarding this land for countless generations, to the Free African Society, to Ben Franklin and the first energy cooperative, Philadelphians of every creed and color have been developing co-ops and organizing mutual aid networks to address collective needs for generations. Our current co-op culture, however, is not reflective of that rich history. 

People of color own only 23% of all businesses in Philly, despite being over 75% of the population. This disconnect is seen through our region’s co-ops as well, with few people of color (and even fewer from immigrant or low-income communities) in leadership positions. And yet, we are definitely seeing a shift. Since 2016, interest in developing co-ops in Philadelphia has been most significant from Latinx immigrants and Black entrepreneurs. It is essential that co-op developers support this shift by providing guidance to co-ops in a culturally appropriate, anti-oppressive manner. PACA believes the best way to do this is through training co-op developers of color from the very communities whose interest in and need for co-ops is growing. With this in mind, PACA seeks to provide this Fellowship opportunity to three people from immigrant and low-income communities of color.

Centering emergent strategy and self-paced and experiential learning, Fellows will work closely with PACA’s staff to deliver services and information to PACA’s stakeholders. They will strengthen research, facilitation, leadership, and outreach skills. Fellows will deepen their knowledge about cooperatively-owned businesses including how they form, ownership structures, operations and governance issues, and the unique challenges and opportunities co-ops face. In addition to providing education about co-ops to the general public, Fellows will have opportunities to provide direct technical assistance to start-up and existing co-ops. 

Responsibilities

Fellows will:

  • Commit to 5 hours per week of work from July – December 2020
  • Craft a self-directed study plan with support from PACA staff, as well as at least one original co-op workshop to deliver to community members
  • Support PACA staff in delivering technical assistance to start-up co-ops, businesses aiming to convert to a co-op structure, and operating cooperative businesses to enhance and improve internal learning about the co-op business model, leadership skills, strategy development, and delivery on business development goals 
  • Participate in multiple workshops, discussions and hands-on experiences to be facilitated by PACA staff
  • Complete occasional “homework” assignments, to be included within the 5 hour per week limit
  • Facilitate and co-facilitate workshops to community members and fellow cooperators on topics such as “Co-op 101” and leadership development

Qualifications 

Successful candidates are:

  • Looking to flex their skills in business development, community organizing, and/or adult learning/workforce development
  • Excited to support Black, Brown and immigrant-led co-ops across Philadelphia through multiple phases of development
  • Eager to deepen their understanding of democratic workplaces, organizations, and communities
  • Fluent in English and/or Spanish, with strong verbal and written communication skills 
  • Able to work collaboratively and autonomously, while managing multiple tasks, priorities, groups, and deadlines with discipline and self-direction


Successful candidates also meet multiple of the following qualifications:

  • Familiarity with and support of the seven international cooperative principles
  • Experience with social group work including meeting facilitation and coordination, democratic decision-making, member orientation, and/or conflict management
  • Legal expertise
  • Current or previous status as a business owner
  • Experience in business finance
  • Current engagement in justice/liberation movements in the Philadelphia region
  • Experience working with cooperatives and/or democratic workplaces

Logistics

Given the current moment, this Fellowship will be held largely remotely. Fellows will participate in regular Zoom calls, be given access to a Google Drive to centralize their study resources, and access PACA office supplies if necessary. Fellows must have access to strong internet and phone connection as well as have their own computer and phone for use. Pending the COVID-19 situation, Fellows may periodically be able to work from PACA’s Center City office location.

What Will Fellows Do? 

Co-op developers provide a full range of support to co-ops in different phases of business development — from start-up to expansion. PACA’s Co-op Developer Fellows will receive training in and contribute to the following: 

  • PACA’s Cooperative Education Initiatives. Study is an integral part of PACA’s cooperative development pipeline. Fellows will, as needed, be provided an overview of the cooperative business model, with opportunities to learn more through research, hands-on experience, and knowledge-sharing. With chances to support PACA staff in developing presentations and workshops, Fellows will be able to share resources with the greater community. 
  • Cooperative Leadership Intensive (CLI). Fellows will attend PACA’s CLI workshop offerings in the fall/winter. They may support curriculum development and will provide facilitation support. 
  • Hands-on Technical Assistance. Fellows will have the opportunity to work with an individual co-op to learn more about specific co-op sectors, understand and work out common issues and best practices, as well as to provide support to the business operations. Note: Some of our co-ops conduct business primarily in Spanish.


What Will Fellows Gain from this Experience?

Upon completion of the program, Fellows will have the tools to effectively: 

  • Educate a variety of audiences on co-op basics, including governance, structure, local resources, and best practices for development
  • Organize and facilitate group meetings, trainings, and workshops for start-up co-ops 
  • Support start-up co-ops with leadership development needs including decision-making, conflict management, developing a steering committee, and more 
  • Consult with co-op leaders to identify needs, develop solutions to commonly occurring problems for start-up co-ops, and provide administrative and research support to co-ops

How to Apply

To apply for the PACA Co-op Developer Fellowship, send a letter of interest and resume by Monday, June 1 to dominique@philadelphia.coop.  Applicant interviews will be conducted the week of June 15.