I’m very proud of my association with the Cooperative Development Foundation! It is my pleasure and honor to serve as the Chair of the CDF Board of Directors, a position that has provided me with an appreciation of how CDF contributes to the growth and development of the cooperative business model. Regardless of the size of its grant and loan portfolios, CDF’s work is always about finding ways to raise public cooperative awareness, to leverage additional resources for cooperative development initiatives, to partner with others in the cooperative development community and to assist in building knowledge and technical capacity among co-op managers and developers to meet the growing demand for new and sustainable cooperative business enterprises. Let me give you several examples:
- In recent years the food cooperative sector has grown dramatically, with expansions and start-up initiatives taking place throughout the Country. CDF has played a role in growing this sector’s capacity to support this growth and expansion through the educational mission of its Howard K. Bowers Fund. Over the past 20 years, the Fund has awarded close to $150K in scholarships (roughly 400 of them) for the sector’s emerging leaders to attend the major development conference where best practices are learned, capacity is built, and valuable networks are established.
- Conversions of rural mobile home parks to resident-owned communities have become a significant source of new co-op housing. In the past 7 years, CDF’s MSC Fund has played a supportive role in awarding just over $250K in grants that are developing capacity among co-op developers to both provide residents of these communities with assistance in submitting competitive bids and then working them through the steps of conversion to housing cooperatives. We’re proud that CDF has played a small part in the formation of 13 new rural manufactured housing cooperatives with more than 1,300 units of housing, many of them affordable senior co-op residences.
- Using the resources of the MSC Fund, over the past 3 years CDF also has leveraged more than $600K in USDA grant dollars to support a portfolio of work related to cooperative solutions for seniors living in rural America. We’ve partnered with cooperative developers across the country to deliver this educational programming and we’re proud of the capacity that we’re helping to build at the grass roots level through their work.
I hope that you, too, are proud of these and other CDF accomplishments. After all, many of you have been an important part of CDF’s work through your generous support! It’s not an overstatement to say we couldn’t do this work without your help. CDF relies on supporters like you to fund CDF’s operations. On behalf of my colleagues on the CDF Board of Directors, we can’t thank you enough if you’ve supported CDF in the past. We hope that you are able to make a tax-deductible contribution again this year. To make an online contribution or to get information for mailing a check, please go to http://www.cdf.coop/donate-to-cdf/. Many thanks for your consideration.
Yours in cooperation,
Gasper Kovach, Jr.