Are you connected to a garden, recreation center, school, library or other public space in Philly? 

Are you a member of a collective, community group, or organization working together to address an issue in your neighborhood? 

Have you been curious about cooperatives and how they might be a helpful tool for building power, community wealth, or sharing resources?

If you answered yes to the questions above, we welcome you to apply for our next cycle of Study Circles! 

From January to June 2024, PACA will host 6 groups across 2 tracks (Study and Build) to explore community ownership and cooperative enterprise through study over the course of six months. 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 the intersection between cooperative enterprise and practice and public space stewardship.

The Study Track, the entry point for our program, will host 4 new groups with the support of our Study Circles Coordinator. The Build track will host 2 groups who participated in previous Study track cycles to move from idea exploration to execution with the support of a Co-op Developer, via a collaboratively designed Technical Assistance (TA) contract. To learn more about previous cycles of the program – and participants- please check out our blog.

Applications to participate in the Study track will open Monday, October 2nd and are due Sunday, November 5th at 11:59pm. Access our live application here! The Study track will run from January 2024 to June 2024. Learn more about the Study track, and the philosophy behind our Study Circles program, by reading this page, our FAQs doc, and registering for a virtual info session on October 17th from 6-7:25pm OR October 30th from 12-1:25pm. If you have questions that have not been answered through those platforms, please email or call (215) 971-3803 ext. 706.

Photo by Bonfire Media Collective

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

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.

We look forward to studying with you!

The William Penn Foundation provides lead support.