What's New

  • August 1, 2016

    The Howard Bowers Fund is offering grants to support leadership training and education for the staff and boards of food cooperatives. Applications are due on September 1, 2016.How to Apply   Grant Guidelines and General InformationGuidelines 1 through 3 should be used to determine if your organization or project is eligible for funding.

    1. The Cooperative Development Foundation (CDF) sparks economic development through the cooperative model. Cooperatives, cooperative development organizations, cooperative-related groups, groups forming a cooperative, and members, staff, and board members of cooperatives may apply. 
    2. Grants will not fund general operating expenses, endowments, capital improvements, tuition, or salaries and benefits of applicant organization staff. 
    3. Applications and supporting materials will be reviewed by the Fund's advisory board and the CDF board if the amount applied for is over $1,000.  All applicants will be notified as to the status of their applications. 
    4. Grant recipients must report on the use and results of the project funded.
    5. Applicants may re-apply to the Fund on condition that CDF has received a final or interim report on all previous grants the applicant has received. 
    6. CDF must receive credit in notices, articles, websites, etc.
    7. Download Application
  • October 8, 2015

    Food Co-op Initiative is excited about our dynamic new logo. Each circle of the logo represents a stage in startup development.- Inquiry & Organizing- Feasibility & Planning- Impletmentation Watch for our new logo, and the three stage icons, as we begin to use them in workshops, resources, and more.

  • June 22, 2015

    At the 2015 CCMA conference in Boise, Idaho, June11-13, Food Co-op Initiative was excited to present the award for 2015 Startup of the Year to Durham Co-op Market (DCM). This award is given to a startup that opened in the last twelve months, after showing careful planning, persistence, and and the skill to bring an idea to fruition as a retail grocery store .   Located in Durham, North Carolina, DCM opened in March with overwhelming support from the community. Commitment, perseverance, and patience paid off! Since 2007 this community has never lost sight of their vision and have been rewarded with a beautiful new store that is exceeding expectations. Sales in the first few weeks ran up to 50% above projections and 500 new member-owners joined in their first 6 weeks.   Durham's general manager Leila Wolfrum was at CCMA to accept the award on the co-op's behalf. She cited the waves of volunteers, board members, community organizations, and staff that worked though the ups ad downs of a startup in an urban area. When the first site selection failed to prove feasible, they had to shift gears and reboot the project. The result is an amazing store that will serve a large community with integrity.   You can read more about Durham Co-op Market and several other new co-ops that opened their doors in the last twelve months in the upcoming issue of Cooperative Grocer.   This award is spondored by Food Co-op Initiative, CDS Consulting, and Northcountry Cooperative Development Fund.

  • June 19, 2014

    trophyWe are delighted to announce that Co-op Market Grocery & Deli in Fairbanks, AK is the winner of this year's Startup of the Year award. Lauded for its leadership, retail excellence, and commitment to building the local economy, Co-op Market beat out twelve other co-ops that opened storefronts since June of 2013. 

    The Startup the Year award recognizes achievement by a retail grocery cooperative in organizing and opening a successful co-op grocery store. The award--and shiny grocery cart (above)--was presented to Co-op Market's General Manager, Mary Christensen, at the annual Consumer Cooperative Management Association conference in Madison, WI in front of a crowd of 500 cooperative managers, staff, board members, and consultants.

    The 6,000 square-foot store opened in March 2013 and was brought to fruition by the grassroots efforts of city residents as part of a broader downtown revitalization strategy. Today Co-op Market has 2,680 member owners, 20 employees, and its sales for 2014 are on track to reaching $2.8 million.

    Co-op Market has experienced strong growth, far exceeding sales predictions, despite the many challenges of operating in Alaska. Co-op Market sits in a food desert tract where 46% of low-income residents lack access to a healthy food store within a half-mile. This new store serves a community with a high percentage of Native Alaskan households, and one where the average income is only 54% of the median. The Co-op emphasizes local products, providing a retail outlet for small farmers, ranchers, fishers, and producers in the region to sell to their own community.

    As Stuart Reid, FCI Executive Director, presented this year’s award, he stated, "Fairbanks’ Co-op Market is a role model for how an organized community can work together to create a cooperative business to meet its needs. While more distant than any startup in modern history, it took advantage of the full support that we and the food co-op community have to offer, inspiring fellow Alaskan communities to do the same." There are currently three new food co-op initiatives organizing in the state.

    There are currently 113 food co-op in development across the nation, and 70 have opened in the past five years, totaling over $155 million in annual sales, 1,006 new jobs, and 88,000 members. Forty more have stated their intention of opening in the next 18 months.

    The past year’s store openings include:

    1. Co-op Market Grocery and Deli (Fairbanks, AK)
    2. Second Kitchen Co-op (Boulder, CO)
    3. Near East Side Co-op (Columbus, OH)
    4. Honey Creek Market (Plain, WI)
    5. Hometown Harvest (Mitchell, NE)
    6. All Things Local Co-op (Amherst, NE)
    7. Waimanalo Market Co-op (Waimanalo, HI)
    8. Doylestown Food Co-op (Doylestown, PA)
    9. Purple Porch (South Bend, IN)
    10. Local First Grocery (Manitou Springs, CO)
    11. Dubuque Food Co-op (Dubuque, IA)
    12. Orcas Food Co-op (Eastsound, WA)

    The Startup of the Year award is sponsored by CDS Consulting Co-op and coordinated by Food Co-op Initiative.

    Download the full press release

  • September 10, 2013

    Food Co-op Initiative today announced Seed Grants totaling $100,000 have been awarded to ten communities organizing co-ops across the US, to be matched with equal amounts in local investments. These grants combine a $10,000 cash award with in-kind services from FCI’s experts including technical assistance, on-site training, and continued mentoring. The Initiative received 38 applications—a record high—requesting just under $380,000.

    Who were these ten co-ops, and what made them stand out from the crowd?

    This year’s grantees have all of the essential elements we look for in a startup,” says Stuart Reid, FCI Executive Director.  “They demonstrate community support, a balance of cooperative ideals with practical business requirements, commitment to best practices, and potential for retail success.“ Reid says that the caliber of applications has risen significantly over the three years FCI has offered Seed Grants, which suggests the program and the Initiative’s early support services are positively impacting food co-op development.  "These co-ops epitomize what is possible with strong leadership and access to professional support and guidance."

    Food Co-op Initiative congratulates our grant recipients!

    What follows is a very brief profile of each co-op.

    Maynard needs a co-opMaynard, MA, is an economically diverse community with a walkable downtown and a small-town feel. Assabet Village Co-op will be the only grocery store. They’ve met with strong community interest since their first meeting in February 2012. Like most of our grantees, Seed funds will be used to finance a market and feasibility study, along with training for the board.

    Baraboo Cooperative in Baraboo, WI, combines the concept of a consumer co-op (owned by the shoppers) with a worker co-op (in which employees buy equity). Their vision is a 7,000 sq. ft. full service grocery store with unparalleled service and democratic control. This group wowed us with how far they’ve come in just a year of organizing.

    group shot of bisman ownersBisMan Co-op aims to serve Bismark and Mandan, ND, with a 3,000 sq. ft. store. There is little to no access to local or organic foods in the area. They plan to use funds to support their membership campaign.

    Before deciding to create Eastwood Market & Café in Louisville, KY, organizers contacted over 275 commercial grocery chains, asking them to look at opening a store in the area. A market study indicates significant potential for a 16,000 sq. ft. natural foods grocery and café. The Eastwood organizers have strongly engaged the co-op community as they have moved forward.

    Hudson Grocery Cooperative aims to bring back a grocery store to downtown Hudson, WI. They have excelled at connecting with local business and the co-op community.

    local roots logoLocal Roots’ market study shows good potential for a 5,000 sq. ft. store in Buffalo, MN. Their store will be an outlet for the many organic farms in the area. “Not only will Local Roots be a store,” they tell us, “It will also be an education center, a community center, and an incubator for small businesses to get their start.”

    The Manchester Food Co-op currently has 755 members. They hope to open a 15,000 sq. ft. store in populous Manchester, NH. They are preparing to launch a capital campaign and hire a project manager.

    Paso Robles logoPaso Robles Food Co-op in Paso Robles, CA, is perhaps the “youngest” co-op ever to be awarded a Seed Grant. They began organizing in spring, 2013. Careful focus on the Four Cornerstones in Three Stages development model has led them to build an exceptional foundation of leadership and community support in such a short time.Richmond chalboard

    Richmond Food Co-op in Richmond, VA, hopes to open a 10,000 sq. ft. store. They’ve led a strong membership campaign and will hire a project manager this fall.

    The strong organizing team at South Philly Co-op in Philadelphia, PA, currently has nearly 500 members despite working in an area with low household incomes and limited site options. They are working closely with existing Philadelphia co-ops.

  • June 17, 2013

    Seed Grants Image

    Food Co-op Initiative is now accepting applications for grants up to $10,000 for development of new grocery co-ops. The Seed Grant program provides a cash award along with proven resources to help organizations achieve success. Food Co-op Initiative advisers will work closely with awardees throughout their organizing process, including making at least one in-person visit to the community.

    Download application guidelines

    If you are thinking about applying for a grant from FCI this summer, please plan on attending our how-to webinar, July 16 at 1PM Central. RSVP.

    Food Co-op Initiative’s Seed Grant program is designed to streamline the startup process to foster the maximum number of successful, sustainable co-ops. These competitive grants must be matched by the co-op with funds raised locally. Grants may be used for payment to professional consultants; registration fees and expenses to attend training opportunities; and initiatives supporting member recruitment, capital-raising, community outreach, or other aspects of organizing the co-op.

    In 2012, Food Co-op Initiative awarded $100,000 to 14 organizations in 12 states. Grants are funded by the USDA, Blooming Prairie Foundation, and the kind support of cooperators nationwide. The deadline for applications to be received is August 1st.

    Download application guidelines

  • June 11, 2013

    Placerville is openWhat happens when the community purchases an existing grocery store and turns it into a cooperatively owned business? What challenges are encountered, and how can this kind of project best be accomplished? A new case study by Food Co-op Initiative explores two such projects in detail.

    One is Placerville Co-op in Placerville, California. The other is Old Creamery Co-op in Cummington, Massachusetts.

    Download the PDF to learn about Placerville Co-op and Old Creamery Co-op's conversion experiences.

  • March 29, 2013

    CCMA bannerA draft schedule of startup-focused workshops to be offered at this year's Consumer Cooperative Management Association conference has been released. As in past years, Food Co-op Initiative curates this track of workshops to ensure maximum benefit to emerging co-ops.

    CCMA, to be held June 6-8 in Austin, TX, is the food co-op industry's premier event. Each year, hundreds of co-op managers, directors, educators, and consultants, plus their national allies gather for speakers and trainers from inside and outside the food co-op sector.

    You can download a schedule of workshops aimed at startups here

    Visit the CCMA website to learn more and register for the conference.

  • January 30, 2013

    Third Tuesdays at 1 PM Central, Food Co-op Initiative will be offering a series of webinars on a variety of topics relevent to startups. Expect in-depth information from subject-matter experts and a chance to get your questions answered. A full schedule of topics is available on our Events page.

  • December 20, 2012

    Ever wonder When should we incorporate? How soon can we plan on opening? or How big should our store be?

    We've been updating our FAQS page to reflect recent inquiries. There are many more questions we hope to add over the next few months, but you may enjoy what we have so far. Take a look!

    Got questions? Drop us a line.