The Bowers Fund was established in 1994 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! All grants recommended by the advisors must be reviewed by the CDF board, which also meets quarterly. The Bowers Fund does not approve grants for travel to CCMA, a large grant is made to the conference and a separate scholarship application is required.
To donate to the Bowers Fund, please use the “donate” button.
Types of Grants
Please note that grants are only available to co-ops within the United States
Howard Bowers Day Grants
Grants for training and education for new food co-ops (opened in the past 12 months) and groups starting food co-ops (will open in the next 12 months). Up to $1000
Grant Cycles 1 & 2
Grants for training and education of food co-op staff, managers, and board members. $1000 – $3000.
The Bowers Fund does not approve grants for travel to CCMA, a large grant is made to the conference and a separate scholarship application is required.
Howard Bowers Day is October 24th!
Donate to the Howard Bowers Fund
This year we are asking your co-op to commit to an annual donation to the Bowers fund. As in years past, this donation will be used to help food co-op startups. The first six co-ops to commit to donating $500 or more will get the chance to host one of the infamous Co-op Quilts for two months in 2015. The quilts are a huge part of the fund’s history and truly show your members the importance of Principle Six: Cooperation Among Cooperatives. The quilts will come with any collateral you may want to put out to show your members how you give back to the co-op community. The months are first come-first serve, so we hope you decide to continue your tradition of supporting the Bowers Fund with an annual donation. October 24th is the official Howard Bowers Day to celebrate food co-ops during co-op month.
If your grant request does not fit within the parameters above, please contact CDF at email@example.com
Cooperative Excellence Awards
Do you know someone in the food co-op community or a food co-op that deserves an award?
Here is your opportunity to recognize them!
CDF and the Bowers Fund manage the awards for cooperative excellence that are presented at CCMA. These awards, which recognize excellence and outstanding achievement, are Cooperative Service, Cooperative Innovation and Achievement, Cooperative Excellence (also known as Retailer of the Year), and Cooperative Board Service. This is the food co-op’s opportunity to honor colleagues and cooperatives for their achievements and accomplishments. Nominations are made by the food co-op community. If you know of a food co-op or someone in the food co-op community who deserves an award, please nominate them! Nominations for the 2014 awards will be due in April 18th, 2014.
The Cooperative Milestone Awards are also presented at CCMA to cooperatives that have reached significant anniversaries. If you are reaching such a milestone this year, contact Karen Zimbelman and Dave Gutknecht – firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Things to consider when nominating:
- Cooperative Excellence (Retailer of the Year)
- Cooperative Innovation/Achievement
- Cooperative Service
- Cooperative Board Service
How well the board and management set priorities, how the co-op addresses its responsibilities to the public and practices good citizenship, and how the co-op practices business ethics and works to protect public health, safety, and the environment
The co-op board and management set strategic directions and the focus is on the future, i.e. sustainable growth and market leadership
Learning is valued and practiced at all levels of the co-op, the co-op looks for opportunities to effect significant change and to do better, the co-op has the capacity for rapid change and flexibility, and the co-op strives for success in design, management, and improvement of the production, delivery, and support processes
The co-op establishes a climate of member-driven excellence, the co-op enables its workforce to develop its full potential, and the co-op makes member education a priority
Customer and member satisfaction, financial and marketplace performance, human resource, supplier and partner performance, operations performance, governance, and social responsibility
Need for innovation: the urgency, relevancy, and complexity of the problem or opportunity addressed by the innovation
The creativity of the innovation and how it breaks with traditional approaches
Impact: Is there a measurable record of improvement or achievement because of the innovation
What is the relevance and replicability of the innovation to other co-ops?
The innovation strengthens, expands, or reflects the co-op’s mission
Outstanding contribution above and beyond the normal course of work
Accomplishments viewed as models within and outside the work environment
Exhibits highest standards of excellence, dedication, and accomplishment
Has made a profound difference in store operations and member services
Has been willing to take risks to achieve positive change
Has fostered a more democratic organization
Has been a champion of cooperative principles
Has demonstrated skill and success in managing a cooperative
Has dedicated a substantial amount of career to the cooperative movement
Is a motivator of employees and colleagues
Has instituted significant changes in the way a co-op operates that allowed it to better achieve its goals
Has achieved substantial savings in operations
Is highly regarded as a mentor
Is highly regarded as an innovator
Is highly regarded as a leader
– Has enhanced the stature, reputation, and overall strength of the cooperative community
– Outstanding contribution above and beyond the normal course of work
– Accomplishments viewed as models within and outside the work environment
– Exhibits highest standards of excellence, dedication, and accomplishment
– Has made a profound difference in store operations and member services
– Has been willing to take risks to achieve positive change
– Has fostered a more democratic organization
– Has been a champion of cooperative principles
– Has demonstrated skill and success in managing a cooperative
– Has dedicated a substantial amount of career to the cooperative movement
– Is a motivator of employees and colleagues
– Has instituted significant changes in the way a co-op operates that allowed it to better achieve its goals
– Has achieved substantial savings in operations
– Is highly regarded as a mentor
– Is highly regarded as an innovator
– Is highly regarded as a leader
– Has enhanced the stature, reputation, and overall strength of the cooperative community
With an $800 Howard Bowers Day grant, Stone’s Throw Market Co-op in Troy, OH gave scholarships to help send nine members of its organizing team to the February 2011 “Up and Coming, Up and Running” regional start-up food co-op conference in Bloomington, IN. They participated in two days of learning and networking with fellow cooperative organizers; connected with food co-op experts from Cooperative Development Services, Food Co-op Initiative, and the Indiana Cooperative Development Center; explored Bloomingfoods’ three store locations; and established mentor relationships with Bloomingfoods staff. “It was one of most effective conferences I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been to quite a few in a variety of fields. It was just loaded with information.”
Every year the Bowers Fund gives a grant to the University of Wisconsin that helps about 20 food co-opers attend CCMA. Some would not be able to attend without this support. “I really enjoyed all of the workshops that I attended…Receiving the Howard Bowers Fund scholarship to offset the conference cost allowed me to attend this year’s conference, when I would not have been able to attend otherwise. The issue my Board had to struggle with in making this decision for me to go was the financial commitment. Receiving this scholarship made it easier for them to send me and they thank you for your generosity.”
The Bowers Fund made a $5,000 grant to the Indiana Cooperative Development Center in 2009 to help fund its 2010 Food Cooperative Development Conference, which was jointly hosted by the Center, Bloomingfoods, Lost River Market and Deli, and Food Co-op 500. “Honestly, the most useful part was just being there, able to ask questions to other human beings and have a discussion about these matters with others who are knowledgeable. I remarked to my compatriots that things like the Manual or the Co-op 500 website are wonderful resources, but you can’t ask them questions. And e-mailing is helpful, but just not the same as being face-to-face, able to ask, and then continue the exchange. That by itself was worth the time for the seminar.”
The Bowers Fund made grants of $3000 and $5000 to produce and update the on-line manual “How to Start a Food Co-op.” Since it became available in 2002, it has been one of the most used references for groups starting a food co-op.