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Cooperative Academy

Cooperation Buffalo’s Cooperative Academy is an intensive 11-week training program that helps teams of cooperative entrepreneurs launch worker-owned cooperative businesses.


For 11 Wednesdays from October 5th through December 14th, teams will engage in classroom training with experts in the skills required to start successful worker cooperatives, including business development, finance, governance, democratic decision making, and participatory management.
After completing the course and pitching your cooperative business concept, Academy graduates will receive up to $2,500 in seed capital as a reimbursement for eligible start-up expenses, one-on-one technical assistance from Cooperation Buffalo to guide you through legal requirements, securing additional start-up capital, and navigating other resources on your way to launching your co-op.

  • Over 20 hours of training by skilled experts

  • Up to $2,500 of seed capital for eligible start-up expenses

  • One-on-one technical assistance from cooperative business developers

  • Training and support in fundraising, legal, and other start-up requirements

  • Access to a peer-support network beyond the length of the course

  • Greater visibility and name recognition for your cooperative

  • Meet and network with member-owners of existing Buffalo cooperatives

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Who is it for?


The Cooperative Academy is designed for teams working together on a single business concept, and intend to open their co-op within a year. Teams of at least 3 people are required to apply. 
While the Cooperative Academy is open to everyone, we give higher priority to applications from teams based in Buffalo and those made up of members of traditionally marginalized communities, including Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, immigrants, queer and trans folks, the formerly incarcerated, and others who have been historically excluded from participation in the mainstream economy and opportunities to build wealth.
Worker cooperatives are successful in any industry, so all business ideas are welcome, especially those that strive to meet the criteria of our Values Filter


  1. Shift economic control to communities

  2. Democratize wealth and the workplace

  3. Advance ecological restoration

  4. Drive racial justice and social equity

  5. Relocalize most production and consumption

  6. Retain and restore cultures and traditions


How many people can be on a team?


Teams of 3 or more individuals are required to apply. A worker cooperative is owned and managed by its workers, and your plan for your cooperative will be strongest if the team of workers participates together in creating it.
The application process for the Cooperative Academy is highly competitive. We're looking for strong, dedicated teams with a mix of talents and experience


Who can apply?


There are 4 requirements to apply:


  • Teams must be 3 or more individuals.

  • Each member of your team must complete the application form separately.

  • Each member that applies must be able to commit to the 11 weeks of the course, and plan to continue on your start-up journey after the course ends.

  • You must have a single business concept for your team when you apply.


Is there a fee to participate?


The Fall 2022 Cooperative Academy is offered free of charge thanks to support from charitable foundations and individual donors.


When is the Fall 2022 Cooperative Academy?


The Fall 2022 Cooperative Academy takes place on Wednesday evenings from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm, beginning October 5th and running through December 14th.

There will be no class held on Wednesday, November 23rd.

In addition to the weekly evening sessions, all participants are expected to meet weekly with your teams and dedicate additional time towards homework, including research, business planning, building democratic internal structures, and completing your Final Project and pitch.

Where is it held?


The Fall 2022 Cooperative Academy will be held virtually using Zoom and Google Classroom. Applicants should have access to a computer with a camera, and will need to create a Google account. It is possible (but not ideal) to attend Zoom sessions on a phone or tablet instead. This is a live course; it is designed to be interactive in an online group setting. We do not offer this as a recorded course.



We plan to provide simultaneous language interpretation during the Academy if applicants need it. We also ask during the application process for you to name any access needs that you may have, so we can do our best to accommodate them. If technology will be a barrier due to the online nature of the course, let us know so we can work it out together.


How to apply


You can apply today using this form! Applications are due by August 15th. We will review your application and contact you to set up an interview with your full team. We may also reach out via email or phone with further questions, or to follow up on any of your access needs or requests for more information. If you have any questions about the application, e-mail us at


Applicant interviews


All team members must complete the application and we will follow up to schedule a 30 minute interview over the phone with ALL team members. We will conduct interviews on a rolling basis between June 15th and September 9th. The earlier your team applies, the sooner we can interview your team.


What happens after the course ends?


Once your team completes the course, we continue to give technical assistance to support your co-op for 3 months. We have staff available to guide you through legal requirements, securing start-up capital, and navigating other resources and supports. Each team will also receive up to $2,500 in seed capital as a reimbursement for eligible start-up expenses incurred within 1 year of the end of the course.
The goal is to make sure your co-op is incorporated and in business within 1 year. After the first 3 months of technical assistance, we will evaluate your team’s progress and decide on a path forward together: you may be ready to launch, you may require a longer-term technical assistance relationship with our co-op developers, or you may be ready to pursue start-up capital through our membership in Seed Commons. Each cooperative has multiple needs and many decisions to make, and this will depend on your timeline.
We also provide structure for you to stay connected to the Fall 2022 Cooperative Academy cohort, as well as to past Academy cohorts, to build relationships and grow a cooperative economy together. We will also promote the co-ops that complete the Academy through our events, organizational networks, and media. We want your worker co-op to become visible and let other entrepreneurs see co-ops as an option for their business goals as well.

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