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Grant Spotlight: Cooperative Leaders & Scholars Institute

Thanks to a grant from CDF and its Cooperative Education Fund, the Cooperative Leaders and Scholars Institute (CLSI) welcomed 21 cooperators to Washington, DC from September 30 – October 4. Participants came from as close as Washington, DC to as far as Uganda. The program offers participants the opportunity to engage with cooperative leaders and policymakers, attend the Co-op IMPACT Conference presented by NCBA CLUSA, and take part in activities tailored to their interests. In addition to CDF, Nationwide, CoBank, CUNA Mutual Group, CHS Foundation, Organic Valley, Wisconsin Farmers Union, NCBA CLUSA, and Judy Ziewacz also provided financial support to the program.

The Institute began with an orientation and group dinner in the NCBA CLUSA offices where the 2019 cohorts first met, learned about CDF and NCBA CLUSA, and heard about the Washington, DC cooperative eco-system from guest speaker Jennifer Bryant, Program Manager, Washington Area Community Investment Fund.

The following day, the cohort joined others in the Cooperative Management course presented by St. Mary's University.  The course covered the co-op principles, the significance of democracy in the co-op model, the cooperative lifecycle, and the abilities of co-ops to meet community needs. That evening Organic Valley and the Wisconsin Farmers Union hosted CLSI participants at Founding Farmers, a farm-to-table restaurant owned by the North Dakota Farmers Union. They were joined by NCBA CLUSA President and CEO Doug O'Brien, NCBA CLUSA Board Chair Erbin Crowell and Organic Valley Vice President of Cooperative Affairs Jerry McGeorge.

From Wednesday to Friday, scholarship recipients attended the Co-op IMPACT Conference, including an exclusive mentoring session with cooperative professionals from a wide array of sectors. 

"CLSI has been a great opportunity to meet leaders in various cooperative sectors and figure out how to translate the work that they're doing in their sectors into the student housing sector. I'll be taking back loads of names and contact information of people I want to work with going forward to grow the cooperative and student housing movement" said Bronwyn Walls, NASCO.

"There's a lot that I will be taking back with me to share with my cooperative" adds Gilbert Engulu, NCBA CLUSA YETA "I came with the knowledge that we only have producer cooperatives in my country of Uganda, but getting to learn that there are other cooperatives that are operating in different sectors is very helpful for me." 

About the Cooperative Education Fund

The Cooperative Education Fund supports cooperative research, sponsors cooperative education events and scholarships, and develops cooperative education materials and programs. The Fund provides $90,000-$100,000 in grants, scholarships, and sponsorships annually. 

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