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Building the Field

The Cooperative Education Fund supports cooperative research, sponsors cooperative education events and scholarships and develops cooperative education materials and programs.

Each year, the Cooperative Education Fund offers:

  • 10-15 grants to support cooperative education programs

  • 6-10 event sponsorships

  • Individual scholarship support through a grant to the Ralph K. Morris Foundation

The Fund provides $75,000 - $100,000 in grants, scholarships, and sponsorships annually. Grants range between $1,000 - $10,000. Over $1,000,000 has been given out in the past ten years. 

The Cooperative Education Fund will not support:

  • Development of proprietary materials. All materials developed with support from the Fund must be available to all at little or no cost.

  • Individual scholarships

  • Capital expenditures, general operating expenses or endowments

  • Sponsorship of local events

  • Projects outside of the U.S.

  • Projects or programs that have already occurred

Grant evaluations must be submitted within 30 days of the program/project completion. The evaluation is a narrative report on the program/project and must be submitted through Submittable. An organization must submit an evaluation to be considered for a future grant.

Grant Cycles

  • May 1

  • October 1

Applicants will be notified of their application status within 45 days of the close of a grant cycle.

Unsung Heroes.png

CDF’s Cooperative Education Fund will offer small grants to individuals interested in conducting research to identify and provide documentation for nominations of individuals from historically overlooked or marginalized groups whose work and achievements in advancing cooperatives have gone unrecognized.


Research will be used to nominate and advocate for the next Unsung Cooperative Hero. Researchers will be required to advocate for their nominee to a Selection Committee comprised of cooperative leaders from all sectors. If the nominee is chosen for induction into the Cooperative Hall of Fame, the researcher will receive a ticket to attend the ceremony. There will also be up to two tickets available for family members of the inductee.

Preference will be given to students associated with or supported by cooperatives or cooperative organizations. Applications due on February 2. Applicants will be notified of their status by February 16. If awarded, research is due on September 2.

Meet the Cooperative Education Fund Grantees

Include Education Fund Fundraising into your food co-op events

The “Neighboring Co-operator Award” acknowledges special contributions made to the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) and the advancement of our vision. As part of the award, the NFCA makes a contribution to the Education Fund in honor of the recipient and invites other co-ops, organizations and individuals to do so as well.

To make a tax-deductible donation to the Cooperative Education Fund in honor of our Neighboring Co-operators, please use the "Donate" button below!

At our 12th Annual Meeting in 2023, the NFCA honors Cornelius Blanding, Executive Director of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives / Land Assistance Fund, in appreciation of his leadership, commitment, and partnership as our associations have worked to build equitable trade relationships between Black-led co-ops in the U.S. South and food co-ops in the Northeast, expand access to education and training, grow awareness of the co-operative movement, and advocate for policies that support co-op development and efforts for social and economic justice.


Past recipients of the award have included Alex Gyori, former General Manager of Brattleboro Food Co-op (VT); Terry Appleby, General Manager of Hanover Co-op Food Stores (NH & VT); Kay Litten, NFCA Board Member and longtime Director of Hanover Co-op Food Stores (NH & VT), Roger Noonan, President of the New England Farmers Union; Patrice Lockert Anthony, President of GreenStar Co-op Markets (NY); Joanne Todd, Director at Willimantic Food Co-op (CT) and CEO, Northeast Family Credit Union; JQ Hannah, Assistant Director at Food Co-op Initiative (FCI), and Glenn Lower, former General Manager of Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op (VT).

Cornelius Blanding, Executive Director, Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund

2023 Neighboring Co-operator Award recipient

The Neighboring Food Co-op Association raises funds for the Education Fund with its Neighboring Cooperator Award

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