The Worcester Co-op Academy was successful in terms of participant knowledge improvement, as seen from the pre and post surveys. These written surveys asked participants to rate their knowledge in 9 areas on a scale of 1-5. The average pre survey was 2, where the average post survey was 4. All categories, in fact, saw an increase and most saw an increase of 2 or 3 points, resulting in a 4 or 5 in every category in the post survey results. The categories that saw the most improvement were:
- Understanding the risks involved in operating a business, and how to protect yourself from these risks.
- Understanding membership structures, bylaws, and patronage structures for cooperatives”.
- Understanding the formation of company policies such as hiring/firing, health and safety, grievances, reimbursements, etc.
The areas that saw the least improvement was “Understanding the importance of your personal finances and to be able to manage personal finances,” which was less of a focus for this academy. The category “Ability to determine market feasibility for your product or service, and write the Market section of your business plan” improved just under 2 points and could be an area of improvement for future academies.
Additionally, in the written evaluations, we received an average of 5 out of 5 in the following categories:
- Usefulness of training
- Mix of participants
- Trainers in general
The only remaining category, Meeting Space, received an average of 4 out of 5 and we have already moved all following trainings to an improved space at Stone Soup Community Center.
Quotes from participants:
The Co-op Academy was an incredibly reward group learning experience that has generated countless thoughts and ideas. We want to replicate this in Rhode Island so that more people we work with can participate! – Julian Rodriguez-Drix, Green dRIve
A cooperative economy is possible, and now we know how to get there! – Josie Shagwert, Fuerza Laboral
My experience at the Co-op Academy was a fun, interactive, informative class that I will never forget. – Abe Vargas, ECO Youth
The Co-op Academy guided us through the alien, uninviting terrain of business development without alienating anyone and in fact bonding us to the common project of co-op development and one another.
This was the first “101” course I’ve taken that was useful–the interactive sessions, useful hand-outs, availability of instructors, assignment of mentors and post-academy follow-up were all designed to ensure that participants would have the necessary resources to start a worker-owned business. – Judy Diamondstone, Diggers Landscaping Co-op
And for support from The Cooperative Foundation!