Helping Over 100 co-ops this past year!

Riverwest & Harambee Credit Union Organizing Committee

Rick Banks and Javon Dean at a community event promoting their startup Riverwest & Harambee Credit Union. Find out more at

It might seem early for a “year in review”, but our fiscal year ended on August 31, so we’re both looking back at what we’ve accomplished AND looking forward to opportunities for increased impact in the year ahead.


 At our November 15 Annual Meeting in Stevens Point WI, the CDS board will receive both an “Ends Report” from me, describing the results we have had this past year, and an independent auditor’s review of our finances. Both will be used in the Annual Report to be completed and posted to our website in January. 

Some highlights of the year past:

  • We significantly touched over 103 co-ops and 27 start-ups in multiple sectors!
  • CDS staff were key partners in planning and delivering an annual 2-day conference for 300 board members and managers of 59 senior housing co-ops; we also helped plan and deliver an annual conference and supporting webinars that benefitted 24 small existing food co-ops and 10 emerging food co-op start-ups in the region.
  • Supported by individual charitable contributions and a city contract, we innovated by extending our work to urban communities. We created and delivered a curriculum for start-up co-ops in Minneapolis, helping at least eight different groups advance their ideas for new co-ops. We provided assistance to three co-ops in Milwaukee, including a start-up credit union being organized to bring greater economic democracy to citizens of the Riverwest and Harambee neighborhoods; we also launched in Minneapolis our first effort to start a new worker-owned cooperative!
  • A dozen co-ops benefitted from business analysis and advanced governance support. This newsletter shares an example of that work with Whole Earth Grocery Cooperative in River Falls WI. Read more
  • Our clients accessed over $400,000 in federal and state funding for their projects as a result of our grant writing assistance.

Clearly there is much there to celebrate!   So what’s next?

We continue to shape a new program to use cooperative approaches to address community development needs in urban and rural places.  We are doing individual projects now with worker owned co-ops, investment co-ops, and shared services co-ops to understand the potential of these approaches, and to better estimate the skills and resources we will need to be effective in the region. Be listening in 2017 as we describe that program.

Our impact on local communities is magnified when we are supported by individuals and co-ops who believe in the power of people working together as a better way of doing business. Give to the Max Day is November 17. Read more  We are again asking for your tax-deductible support, electronically through GiveMN or with a check to CDS, that helps people meet their needs for livable neighborhoods, equitable jobs, and strong local economies. Donate now

Kevin Edberg, Executive Director