Jackson Rising conference brings together social justice and cooperative activists
While the words “co-op” and “civil rights” do not commonly appear in the same sentence, with more than 300 cooperative and social justice activists gathered in Jackson, Mississippi, last weekend, the question was hard to avoid.
The Philadelphia Free School (PFS) is a democratic school operated by its students, staff, parents, and community members, with each individual within the school community having one vote in decision-making. Opened in 2011 with 16 students, PFS now has 80 students aged 4-19 who work collaboratively on self-initiated activities and govern themselves and the school.
The Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance (PACA) is a cooperative membership association for cooperatives in the Philadelphia region. Guided by a mission to improve the lives of people in the Philadelphia region by supporting democratically organized businesses, promoting the principles of the international cooperative movement, and growing the cooperative economy, PACA develops and implements programs to connect, educate, and serve Philadelphia area co-ops and cooperators. The nonprofit also advocates at the municipal, state, and federal levels for policies supporting the growth of cooperative businesses.
The Philadelphia Service Cooperative strives to bring people closer together and inspire them to be part of their local communities rather than isolating themselves and competing for resources. Its flagship project is its West Philadelphia-based Service House, an 8-bedroom housing cooperative comprised of resident-owners who perform regular community service. The house also serves as a venue for socially conscious events and as a base-of-operations for social entrepreneurship.
Beaumont is a resident-owned, resident-governed cooperative continuing care retirement community designed to fulfill the social, recreational, and health needs of adults aged 60 and older. Committed to reducing its environmental and carbon footprint, Beaumont composts nearly 50 pounds of biodegradables on a daily basis (which it then converts into organic compost for its gardens), relies on geothermal wells to augment traditional heating and cooling systems, and uses LEDs in all common area and exterior lighting, among other eco-focused practices. Beaumont has about 300 owner-residents.
Founded in 1977, Ardent Credit Union now holds $631 million in assets and has 32,000 members. To support its members, the credit union awards ten scholarships every year to members pursuing higher education and runs numerous seminars focused on financial education. Committed to its employees, Ardent offers staff up to $6,000 a year to cover job-related tuition expenses, has an on-site nutritionist, and has been recognized as one of the best credit unions to work for by CU Journal.
Noting that a majority of British residents support public ownership of the railways and key utilities, this new paper from the Co-Operative Party calls for modern forms of democratic public ownership. The authors outline how democratic public ownership can lead to productivity gains and protection from government underinvestment in critical infrastructure. The paper outlines what ownership could look like across rail, water, and energy, making actionable recommendations in each sector
This one-pager from the Democracy at Work Institute and the National Urban League provides a succinct summary of the benefits that employee ownership provides to employees, businesses, and local economies. Noting that the number of minority-owned businesses is increasing but that many of these businesses lack a succession plan, the info sheet highlights the opportunity to help these businesses convert to employee ownership to retain jobs and stabilize communities.
Founded in 1955 to serve the University of Alabama at Birmingham community, Legacy Credit Union now has over 38,000 members across the Greater Birmingham Metropolitan Area and holds over $420 million in assets. Committed to financial education, Legacy participates in a range of educational initiatives at local businesses, colleges, and high schools, and has developed an in-depth, 12-month financial literacy program for young adults.
Established in 1934 with just $70 in assets and a mission to serve telephone company employees, Avadian has grown into an institution holding roughly $750 million in assets. Headquartered in Birmingham, Avadian serves over 78,000 members through 20 branches across the state. To help its members develop and reach their financial goals, the credit union offers numerous programs including youth savings initiatives and free one-on-one financial management consultations. Committed to the community, Avadian also sponsors a range of area events and nonprofits, and has a particular focus on supporting efforts focused on education, financial literacy, and fostering connections between the community and chambers of commerce.
Founded in 1928 to serve area postal workers, Neighbors Credit Union now serves over 48,000 people living across the St. Louis region and holds over $352 million in assets. To encourage savings, the credit union runs several “clubs,” including Camp Cash, which rewards members 12 years and younger for every $10 they deposit. To support the community, Neighbors provides four college scholarships on an annual basis, and donates money and items to a range of community organizations.
First Community Credit Union is the largest credit union in Missouri with over $2.2 billion in assets, over 270,000 members, and 35 branches. Serving residents across St. Louis County, St. Louis City, Franklin County, Jefferson County, St. Charles County, Warren County, and three Illinois counties, the credit union strives to help members improve their economic and social conditions. Committed to the St. Louis region, First Community sponsors a range of local events and nonprofit organizations.