The purpose of the Bowers Fund is to strengthen the food co-op community and it does this by giving grants for the training and education of food co-op staff, managers, and board members. The Bowers Fund was established in 1993 with an endowment from the Hyde Park Cooperative Society to recognize the commitment and achievements of its general manager, Howard Bowers. He dedicated his life to the consumer cooperative movement and, in his five-decade career, worked for cooperatives throughout the Midwest, mentored hundreds of food co-opers, and was in large part responsible for reviving the Consumer Management Association, which he helped build into the organization for all consumer-owned food co-ops. He also served on the boards of the Cooperative Development Foundation and the National Cooperative Business Association.
The purpose of the Bowers Fund is to strengthen the food co-op community and it does this by giving grants for the training and education of food co-op staff, managers, and board members. While contributions are raised through events at CCMA and Howard Bowers Day, anyone can contribute at any time! At the end of every year, half of the contributions raised and interest earned that year is put into the endowment and the other half is used for grants, half of which is a grant to the University of Wisconsin for scholarships to CCMA. All grants recommended by the advisors must be reviewed by the CDF board, which also meets quarterly.
Grant applications are accepted in two cycles:
- Throughout the year for contributions raised at CCMA and random donations
Applications for these contributions are considered during the advisors’ quarterly meetings, which are held in February, May, August, and November. Applications should be received at least a week in advance. All grant recommendations must be approved by the CDF board.
- In December or January for contributions raised by Howard Bowers Day
In 2007 the advisors decided to dedicate contributions raised by Howard Bowers Day to new and about-to-open co-ops. Applications for these funds are considered once a year and are due January 15, 2013 for the funds raised by Howard Bowers Day 2012.Learn more about Howard Bowers Day.
The Bowers Fund is managed by the Cooperative Development Foundation and governed by a board of advisors made up of seven to nine representatives of the cooperative community. The current board of advisors is composed of Alex Gyori of Brattleboro Food Co-op, Jacqueline Hannah of Common Ground Food Co-op, Annie Hoy of Ashland Food Co-op, Ellen Michel of Bloomingfoods, Mari Niescior of Outpost Natural Foods, Bob Noble of the Keystone Development Center, Mid-Atlantic Food Co-op Alliance, and the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance, Michael Novak of NCB, Brenda Pfahnl of Northcountry Cooperative Development Fund, and Karen Zimbelman of NCGA. If you are interested in serving on the board of advisors, please contact email@example.com.
For information and technical assistance on starting a food co-op, see www.cgin.coop, the website of the Cooperative Grocers Information Network, and www.cdsus.coop, the website of Cooperative Development Services. To find an NCGA member food co-op near you, see www.ncga.coop, the website of the National Cooperative Grocers Association. For information on the Food Co-op Initiative, a program to create 500 new food co-ops across the U.S., see www.foodcoopinitiative.coop. For a case study of an attempt to start a food co-op in a rural town, click here. This case study was funded by CDF’s MSC Fund.