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The Cooperative Leaders and Scholars (CLS) program is an opportunity to participate in multi-sector programming and events, and to engage with co-op industry thought leaders, policymakers, and other stakeholders. The experience is open to new and emerging cooperators: current employees or board members, post-secondary students, or others interested in working for, creating, or leading a cooperative or cooperative organization.

Designed to deepen and broaden knowledge of cooperatives and the role the model plays in meeting economic and social needs of communities, the program is structured to empower participants to shape their experience for maximum value as they connect and collaborate with peers and industry experts.

Contact Kirstie Boyette at for more information.

"Being a part of the CLS cohort has broadened my understanding of the international history of cooperatives and helped me to make connections with likeminded individuals who are doing amazing work promoting democracy, equity and workers' rights today. I have left wanting to continue to grow the connections I made, and make promoting cooperatives the mission of my work."

- Isa Fernández, 2022 Cohort Member

Emerging cooperators (ages 18-35) pursuing a career in or working with cooperatives, credit unions, and mutual insurance.

Individuals new to cooperatives, credit unions, and mutual insurance with less than 5 years of experience


  • Emerging cooperators (ages 18 - 35) pursuing a career in or working with cooperatives, credit unions, and mutual insurance.

  • Individuals new to cooperatives, credit unions, and mutual insurance with less than 5 years of experience.

  • Post-secondary students of any age with an interest in cooperatives, credit unions, and mutual insurance. 

Applicants must qualify under one of the three categories and reside in North America. 

  • December 8 - Application portal opens

  • February 16 - Applications due by 11:59 pm ET

  • March 1 - Applicants notified of status

  • April 3 - Program kick-off (virtual)

  • April 23 - 26 - Multi-day in-person meeting in Denver, CO sponsored by CoBank

  • June - September - Virtual programming

  • September 30 - October 4 - Weeklong in-person convening in Washington, DC

  • November - Virtual programming

Program Content
  • Engage in an 8 month program designed to deepen and broaden knowledge of cooperatives 

  • Be a part of a community that can provide ongoing peer support and professional development opportunities

  • Co-create a capstone project 

  • Participate in exclusive networking events

  • Learn from industry experts in a series of webinars

  • Get to know the cohort in-person in Denver, CO from April 23 - 26 that will include co-op tours and training workshops. Sponsored by CoBank.

  • Attend a weeklong event in Washington, DC from September 30 - October 4 featuring NCBA CLUSA's Co-op IMPACT Conference, CDF's Cooperative Hall of Fame, a one-day course from the International Centre for Co-operative Management at Saint Mary's University, and co-op tours

  • Registration for the Co-op IMPACT Conference, Cooperative Hall of Fame, and International Centre for Co-operative Management at Saint Mary's University course

  • Denver, CO and Washington, DC co-op tours

  • Access to exclusive networking events and webinars from industry experts

  • Peer-to-Peer and Mentor-to-Mentee opportunities

  • Travel stipend ($1,000 total), accommodations, and meals for two in-person events

  • $25 metro card for Washington, DC

  • $600  honorarium

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Testimonials from Alumni

"I was most surprised by the caliber of people I met during this program. It was incredible to meet and learn from people across all skill levels, co-op sectors, and areas of the world."

"I built essential relationships with key stakeholders and learned about best practices and innovations in the cooperative field. The program helped me learn about the nuances and flexibility of the cooperative model."

"It was the most inspiring week with the most awesome co-operators. So much to learn from each other and learn together from the best co-op practitioners."

"This was an incredibly rewarding experience and in addition to gaining an in depth understanding of the cooperative movement, I gained a whole network of individuals who are knowledgeable and available to assist me in projects moving forward."

CLS Alumni Network

Since the 1990s, CLS has undergone various iterations, the most notable being an expansion in 2023 from a one week event to an 8-month fellowship experience. 

The newly formed network strives to connect CLS alumni for lasting impact by fostering connections and building enduring relationships to create a strong network of changemakers building a better world together, one cooperative at a time. 

Connect with alumni from other cohorts who are at different stages in their cooperative paths.

Thank You Sponsors!

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