Co-op Development

Starting A Co-op?

If you are considering creating a new co-operative business in the Worcester area or converting an existing business into a co-op, contact Worcester Roots for information on how we can help!

(508) 343-0035

What does Worcester Roots offer?

1. Education

Worcester Roots organizes Co-op Academies with curriculum on mission/vision/values, meeting facilitation, conflict mediation, financials, market analysis, youth in co-ops, legal documents, membership and governance, greening the co-op, raising capital, and more. Much of our popular education and youth-focused curriculum is available on HERE on our website or at HERE.

2. Direct Support:

In addition to the Co-op Academies mentioned above for in-depth mentorship, training, and support; we also offer over-the-phone or short-term advice year-round. For some co-ops that have a lot of mission match, we provide full incubation support and fiscal sponsorship for up to three years. The academy and incubation include one-on-one coaching with a successful entrepreneur, access to a peer-support network beyond the training, legal assistance with business incorporation & structuring, greater visibility and name recognition for your co-op, training and support in fundraising, web site development, and logo design. We also make referrals to appropriate technical assistance and financing institutions.

Find out about Co-op Training Intensives here!

3. Connections to other co-ops and the movement including a marketing and visibility boost:

Worcester Roots connects existing co-ops, individuals with interest in co-ops and cooperatives-in-formation as an ecosystem through regular events, trainings and the Worcester Solidarity And Green Economy (SAGE) Alliance. Access this network of dozens of groups and hundreds of Worcester residents by collaborating with Worcester Roots.

Working with Roots also connects you to national and international networks, including the Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy, US Federation of Worker Co-ops, New Economy Coalition and Grassroots Global Justice.

4. Our Staff-Collective and Grassroots approach:

Worcester Roots focuses on organizing, not traditional technical assistance or service provision. We work with our community to strengthen the movement, connect to resources and build power. We model the co-op structure in a our staff arrangement, using a staff collective, active board, and horizontal decision-making.

Check out our Full Incubation Checklist Here (PDF)


Interested in Fiscal Sponsorship? Fill out this form!

Prezi about Union Co-op Approach here.


What’s a Co-op?

International Co-operative Alliance defines a cooperative (or “co-op”) as an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.

Co-op Principles

The co-operative principles are guidelines by which co-operatives put their values into practice.

1st Principle: Voluntary and Open Membership

Co-operatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.

2nd Principle: Democratic Member Control

Co-operatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary co-operatives members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote) and co-operatives at other levels are also organized in a democratic manner.

3rd Principle: Member Economic Participation

Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their co-operative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the co-operative. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing their co-operative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the co-operative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.

4th Principle: Autonomy and Independence

Co-operatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter to agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their co-operative autonomy.

5th Principle: Education, Training and Information

Co-operatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-operatives. They inform the general public – particularly young people and opinion leaders – about the nature and benefits of co-operation.

6th Principle: Co-operation among Co-operatives

Co-operatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-operative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.

7th Principle: Concern for Community

Co-operatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.

Also, check out our RESOURCES page.

Check out more about our Co-op Academy HERE.

For more information, please contact us at