The 5th Co-operative Principle is a cornerstone of our work. Education of the public, of our community and of ourselves are all activities to which we are strongly dedicated. Here are some examples of how we use this critical co-op principle.

VAWC Peer-to-Peer Support

VAWC is owned and controlled by its member worker co-ops. Our meetings feature peer-to-peer support where co-operators can express their needs and goals together to gather information and shared solutions to challenges in their business. These sessions feature how best to hire or fire, marketing and training strategies, taxes and accounting expertise and more. Peer-to-peer support is a cornerstone of our work and we aim to be a center for institutional knowledge about bast practices and support of worker co-ops in our region and beyond.

UMass Certificate in Co-operative Enterprise

We are very proud to work with faculty, administration and students in the Economics Department at UMass, Amherst, and the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) on the Certificate in Co-operative Enterprise. Made up of curriculum focusing on the co-operative model and internships with NFCA or VAWC co-ops, the Certificate is a one-of-a-kind program for undergraduates to experience co-operation first hand. We have reached hundreds of students over dozens of courses in more than a decade of partnership in this Certificate and our members have had dozens of interns supporting their work since 2010. Read more about our Certificate and work of our interns here.

 Scholarships to Conferences

VAWC sponsors one to two people to the regional or national worker co-op conferences every year. We use the proceeds of our VAWC Interco-operative Development Fund to share among those who made it possible. Last year, we supported Oxbow Design Build in sending a representative to the United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives conference in Philadelphia.

On-going Technical Assistance

Through its staff, board and years of resources, VAWC provides on-going technical assistance to its members. From articles and bylaws to marketing and business development, VAWC is active in ensuring its members are realizing their full potential.

Conferences and Events

We hold workshops at several nearby and co-op movement conferences where you can come and learn about us and co-op led development. We’ve had the pleasure of presenting at the Eastern Conference for Workplace DemocracyUnited States Federation of Worker Co-operativesCenter for Popular EconomicsWestern Worker Co-op ConferenceWestern Mass Jobs With JusticeNortheast Organic Farming Association (NOFA)Advancing Development of Worker Co-opsSlow Living Summit, and co-op board and member meetings and more.

We also support events about co-ops and the co-operative model. We’ve had the pleasure of hosting or co-hosting Nobel Prize winners, Program Directors of co-operative education universities, co-operative delegations from Mexico, and board and staff from national co-op organizations. We’ve co-hosted numerous co-operative businesses openings, on air round tables on co-operation, speaking engagements from co-operative leaders, welcomed cross country bicycling co-op enthusiasts and more. For event information try  facebook and twitter.