Communities of Color Are Driving the Co-op Movement

Since 2010, 60 percent of new cooperative worker-owners are people of color and more than two thirds of total worker-owners are women.

These are some of the findings from Cooperative Growth Ecosystem: Inclusive Economic Development in Action, Melissa Hoover of the Democracy at Work Institute, the nonprofit arm of the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives, and Hilary Abell of Project Equity, a San Francisco Bay Area-based worker co-op developer consultancy. 

Additionally, their report finds that nearly a third of U.S. worker co-ops operating today have been formed since 2010.  

This represents a remarkable change. Democracy at Work Institute data found that for the 100-plus worker co-ops founded nationally between the mid-90s through 2010, fewer than 3 in 10 members were people of color. 

Overall worker co-op numbers, to be sure, remain modest. At present, Hoover and Abell estimate that there are 7,000 worker co-op member-owners. Yet it is clear that cooperatives, once largely overlooked in the community development field, are now an important part of the community wealth building discussion. As Sanjay Pinto argued in a recent Surdna Foundation report, Ours to Share: How Worker-Ownership Can Change the American Economy, “We see this moment in history as an ideal time to push for greater investment in the formation and expansion of worker-owned businesses as one method for closing the income and wealth gaps and increasing economic activity.”

Read the rest at


Go to the GEO front page