Our Study Circles program is under way! Drawing on African American and Philadelphia cooperative history as well as PACA’s 20 Book Clubs → 20 Cooperative Businesses program, this year’s study circles will continue to focus on utilizing cooperative enterprise to steward public spaces.

For the first time, our program is running with two tracks: Study and Build. In the Study track, we are hosting 4 groups to explore community ownership and cooperative enterprise through study over the course of six months. In the Build track, we work with 2 groups from previous Study Circles cohorts who are interested in continuing to develop their idea with the support of PACA staff through a collaboratively designed Technical Assistance (TA) contract.

Check out our blog posts to learn more about this cycle's participants and what they're learning!

More about the Program

PACA believes study is a key component to cooperative business and enterprise development. Pre-development through group study and research lays the groundwork for developing successful cooperative businesses and enterprises, particularly for those communities for whom access to institutional knowledge and resources around business development has been made inaccessible.

Each of the 4 study circles will meet twice a month for six months to explore needs and visions for public space stewardship in their communities. Through study, reflection, and discussion, they will explore how cooperative enterprises could address these needs and visions, and how and why people form cooperatives. They will choose resources like books, articles, oral history, videos, field trips, comics, and podcasts to support their learning. 

Having a business idea is NOT a requirement for participation. If, after this period of study, groups want to move forward with a business idea, they may access training, technical assistance, and other support through PACA and our partners.

Jessica Gordon Nembhard Quote

As mentioned above, this year’s study circles are centered on utilizing cooperative enterprise to steward public space. You may be interested if you are connected to a park, urban farm/garden, library, or recreation center, or if you have ideas or hopes for shared physical space in your neighborhood. Community-based organizations and groups of individuals with a shared interest are both welcome to apply, as long as your group has at least five (ideally 6-12) people who are committed to engaging in the study process.

We prioritize applications from people who have been exploited by our current economy and excluded from economic prosperity. For example, we prioritize applications from people who are formerly incarcerated, coming from poverty, people of color, refugees, and immigrants.

Moreover, PACA is committed to practicing language justice by questioning English domination in our society and supporting cooperative businesses run by people who speak languages other than English as well as people of various literacy levels.

If you have questions that have not been answered after reading this page and visiting our FAQs, please email studycircles@philadelphia.coop or call (215) 971-3803 ext. 701.

We look forward to studying with you!

The William Penn Foundation provides lead support.