The Mutual Service Foundation


People Helping People - the cooperative way

In its more than 30 years of existence the Mutual Service Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Minnesota-based Mutual Service Insurance Companies and the Mutual Service Cooperative, gave over $1 million in grants to support the growth and development of cooperative enterprises and organizations, with a particular focus in the agribusiness area.

In 2004 the Mutual Service Foundation’s board decided to terminate its existence and agreed with CDF to establish the Mutual Service Cooperative Fund (MSC Fund) within CDF to further the objectives of both organizations.  In 2005 the MSC Fund board of advisors decided to focus the Fund on cooperative development initiatives that enhance the quality of life of seniors living in rural areas.  The MSC Fund is governed by a board of advisors composed of some of the Mutual Service Foundation’s board and other cooperative leaders.

The MSC Fund gives grants that:

  1.  Contribute to the development of systemic approaches to replicate successful cooperative models that already serve seniors in rural areas.
  2. Provide technical assistance to help develop cooperative ventures that serve seniors living in rural areas.
  3. Provide a better understanding of lessons learned from cooperatives that have served or are serving seniors living in rural areas.

CDF received a $200,000 grant (with $70,000 of CDF matching funds required) from USDA’s Rural Cooperative Development Grant program to further expand its work to bring the cooperative model to issues facing rural seniors, with a focus on energy-efficient manufactured cooperative housing.  This grant continues CDF’s work as a national cooperative development center that helps deliver technical assistance, conducts research, and does outreach activities related to the use of cooperatives to meet the needs of senior citizens living in the rural U.S.  Work began on December 1, 2013 and it will include case studies of two home care cooperatives (Circle of Life in Bellingham, WA and Paradise in Volcano, HI), formation of a national and regional steering committees on home care cooperatives, production of a “tool kit” on manufactured co-op housing, a one-day dialogue on “Cooperative Housing Opportunities in North Dakota” on May 22 in Mandan, ND, and a public Forum on May 7 at the National Press Club in Washington DC.



Application Grant Information and Forms

Grants are awarded once a year.  In 2014, the MSC Fund is looking for proposals that promote cooperative solutions for seniors in rural communities in the United States.  We encourage you to discuss your proposal with the staff at CDF to ensure that it meets the Fund’s criteria for 2014.  Applications will be due in the fall of 2014.

Download the Application Packet (.zip)