Worker Owned Academy Spring 2021

May 18 6:00 pm — 7:00 pm

Event Details

About Worker Ownership

Worker owned cooperatives (co-ops) are entities that buy and sell goods and services, just like traditional businesses, but they are owned by their workers, rather than by shareholders. Worker cooperatives empower workers to make decisions that impact their lives and livelihoods, learn new skills, and share equitably in a business’s profits.

Cooperatives are businesses owned and run by and for their members. Whether the members are the customers, employees or residents they have an equal say in what the business does and a share in the profits. Whether it is a new business idea or a current business that wants to convert, we are here to help you through the necessary steps – and to coach you in the most important aspect that sets co-ops apart from other businesses; to work as a group, equally taking part and sharing in the work and rewards.

About the Worker Owned Academy

The Cooperation Humboldt / North Coast SBDC Worker Ownership Program is committed to supporting existing co-ops and incubating new co-ops. We offer the Worker Owned Academy below as the foundation for deep-dive coaching and support for your team as you work together to create or convert to a worker-owned enterprise.

When you’re done you’ll understand some of the basics and know whether you want to move forward… and then the REAL work will begin!

Orientation: Learn more first at the Introduction to Worker Ownership free orientation at 6 pm on May 4th.

Dates: Worker Owned Academy takes place over six sessions: Tuesdays from 6 to 7:30 pm on May 18, May 25, June 1, June 8, June 15, June 22.

Cost: $60 for the Academy. Income based scholarships available. Please complete this voluntary, confidential income self-certification form and send to Rowan Seaman at We will let you know asap if you qualify.

Method: All sessions will be virtual, using Zoom. You will need a computer, good internet speed, a microphone and speaker. 

Approach: This program follows a “reverse classroom” approach. Everyone will receive access to a Google Classroom with learning content they can absorb outside of sessions. The sessions themselves will be interactive and practice-focused. Participants get the most out of this Academy if they do the “homework” beforehand and schedule private coaching sessions for their worker-owner team during and/or after the program.


1 – Introduction to Cooperatives: This session focuses on what a co-op is, what makes them different from other businesses, and what is the same. Special attention is on the participants introducing the business ideas, giving feedback and answering questions and worries.

2 – Process of Starting a Cooperative: This session focuses on the process of starting a co-op; what do you need to do before you incorporate your business: Start with an idea, Form a Team/Steering Committee, Make a Business plan and a Feasibility study, and Decide on bylaws and legal structure for the business.

3 – Working in a Co-op Development Team: Facilitation and Consensus: This session focuses on the work in a Co-op Development Team with special emphasis on facilitation and consensus decision making.

4 –  Decision Making Structures and Meeting Dynamics: This session focuses on different decision-making structures and the power distribution in a development team and a larger cooperative. We also look at agendas and notetaking for effective meetings.

5 – Financing and Funding: This session focuses on the money; how to plan for it, how to distribute it, how to get hold of it. Based on what is called the patronage dividend, or how to share the surplus, we will touch upon investors, lenders, community support, as will basic budgeting and cashflow.

6 – Governance and Next steps: This session focuses on the governance of a co-op (Bylaws and Operating Agreements), legal structures (Cooperative Corporation and LLC), and the concrete steps you will have to take after the Academy to actually incorporate your cooperative.


Register for this event through eCenter.