• Independent Drivers Guild Driver stands in front of banner

Investing In The Cooperative Model To Scale Social Impact

Cooperatives are an integral part of the fabric of our economy and have real power to transform low-income communities into strong, vibrant places of opportunity. With momentum growing around the power of cooperatives to create economic opportunity for underserved communities and communities of color, Capital Impact Partners created the Co-op Innovation Award in 2015, designed to further this movement and the impact that cooperative organizations are creating nationwide. Organizations are chosen yearly to receive a portion of a $100,000, one-year grant to recognize innovative strategies to increase the number of food, housing, and worker co-ops serving low-income communities.

Members of a housing cooperative in front of their property.

Bringing Co-ops to Scale
Co-ops afford disinvested communities nationwide the opportunity to break barriers to success and pursue shared prosperity and self-determination. Capital Impact supports Co-op Innovation Award winners that focus on methods for expanding equity, innovation and impact for low-income communities nationwide through food, housing, and worker co-ops, creating jobs and economic and social justice.

Three members of a Latina-run cooperative.

Active Partnerships
Capital Impact’s community development work is based in the cooperative model. Our history of amplifying the potential of the co-op model for all people – through strategic financing and capacity building – positions us well to work directly with cooperatives to activate and mobilize their models for food, housing, and worker collectives.

Two men in conversation.

Connecting Communities with Influencers
Through the award, Capital Impact acts as a bridge between the co-op community and foundations, impact investors, community development organizations, and policy makers. This provides a platform on which to showcase promising models and attract other grant dollars, policy change, and public interest.


Sponsorship Opportunities

In addition, there are exciting sponsorship opportunities for organizations that would like to support the Co-op Innovation Award.


Reach out to Alison Powers, Director of Economic Opportunities, at apowers@capitalimpact.org.

Join our upcoming webinars:

June 1 at 2 p.m. ET – Register here

June 13 at 1 p.m. ET – Register here

Proud Sponsors of the Capital Impact Partners Co-op Innovation Award

National Cooperative Bank Logo




Community safety group members smile at the camera

Title: Northside Residents Redevelopment Council – 2022

Northside Residents Redevelopment Council in Minneapolis focuses on cultivating safe, supportive, and economically vibrant neighborhoods where families can thrive. They are creating a state-certified Community Safety Specialist apprenticeship program, formalizing and professionalizing a community-led patrol program that has existed in North Minneapolis for decades.

Find out more about Northside Residents Redevelopment Council’s work

Community members at health day

North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO) – 2022

North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO) based in Chicago is an alliance of group-equity housing cooperatives helping to build a world where every community benefits from resident-controlled housing. They are establishing a group-equity cooperative for housing primarily for Cambodian refugees and their families in Stockton, California. This pilot works with tenants’ unions and residents of apartment buildings facing displacement and gentrification to provide training, and give them the tools to buy the properties and own them through the group-equity model.

Find out more about NASCO’s work

A woman at a sewing machine smiles

The Industrial Commons – 2022

The Industrial Commons in Morganton, NC founds and scales employee-owned social enterprises and industrial cooperatives to help erase the inequities of generational poverty. Their project, Seat at the Table, takes the need for skilled labor and turns it into a multi-layered business that trains workers to become upholsterers, one of the highest paid jobs in furniture. Their long-term vision is to create a direct-to-consumer furniture manufacturing co-op whose member-owners will come from the training program.

Find out more about The Industrial Commons’ work

Boy swings at pinata while family watches

Pilsen Housing Cooperative (PIHCO) – 2022

Pilsen Housing Cooperative (PIHCO) – started by Latino artists and families in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood – helps owner families secure affordable homes, earn equity and build wealth, build leadership skills, increase democratic participation in civic life, and take a pragmatic stand against displacement. To support its expansion, PIHCO is acquiring a third property, a “generator building” that will help make the co-op’s ongoing growth sustainable. By buying the building via donations rather than debt, PIHCO can then use the building to help fund subsequent acquisitions and supplement capital improvements across its portfolio.

Find out more about PIHCO’s work

A street vendor sells food

Beloved Community Incubator – 2022

Beloved Community Incubator is a nonprofit co-op incubator that fosters living wage work with communities in Washington, D.C. They support the Vendors United Food Cooperative, a group of street food vendors in Washington, D.C., many of whom have been locked out of the mainstream economy. The vendors are starting an online, cooperatively-owned marketplace to sell their food.

Find out more about Beloved Community Incubator’s work

Co-op Cincy staff speaking on a panel

Co-op Cincy – 2021

Co-op Cincy is an organization that fosters cooperative development in Greater Cincinnati. They are piloting a three-month co-op development course with racial justice education and co-op history. Created in response to the racially exacerbated effects of the health and economic crisis, this BIPOC-focused co-op development course starts with three Black-led cohorts, providing ongoing technical assistance and mini start-up grants, enabling 6-8 Black co-op entrepreneur teams to launch their worker-owned businesses successfully and provide feedback to create a “train-the-trainer” course.

Find out more about Co-op Cincy’s work

Co-op Dayton staff jumping for joy

Co-op Dayton – 2021

Co-op Dayton is an organization that fosters cooperative development in Dayton, Ohio. They are supporting Unified Power, a real estate investment co-op that organizes the residents of West Dayton to own and control land and development in their neighborhoods; create quality, affordable rental and homeownership opportunities; and revitalize disinvested commercial and residential streets.

Find out more about Co-op Dayton’s work

Collective REMAKE stand and smile

Collective REMAKE – 2021

Collective REMAKE in Los Angeles is an organization that supports the creation of worker-owned businesses and other kinds of cooperatives for people who have been incarcerated and/or excluded from the mainstream economy. Collective REMAKE is operating several programs that were created during the economic and health crisis that were a result of the COVID pandemic: a Train the Trainers Program that will engage trainers with lived experience to facilitate participatory cooperative workshops; a Co-op Development Program to support start-up cooperatives; and a Wellness Hub that will focus on barriers to reentry and mental health services.

Find out more about Collective REMAKE’s work

Woman at a sewing machine looks at the camera

Custom Collaborative – 2021

Custom Collaborative in New York City is an organization that empowers Black and brown, low-income, and immigrant women who have been excluded from business and the sustainability movement with the tools and platform to lead in the creation of new solutions for the fashion industry and our planet. Custom Collaborative launched Fashion That Works Production (FTWP), a worker cooperative that centers marginalized women as learners and leaders. Custom Collaborative will be used as a pilot for the fashion industry, expanding the capacity of their visual education platform which includes on-demand and live interactive lessons.

Find out more about Custom Collaborative’s work

People stand among plants, smiling

Cooperation Humboldt – 2021

Cooperation Humboldt is an organization based on California’s North Coast that runs a no-cost, six-week, bi-lingual, project-based educational program for aspiring cooperative entrepreneurs. The program was developed collaboratively with community colleges, local Indigenous tribes, immigrant communities, and Community Development Financial Institutions. It will train cooperative business advisors from rural, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities living with low incomes, including the Wiyok and Yurok tribes. In addition, the program will include supportive services like childcare subsidies, remedial education, trauma-informed support, remote community access, and direct capital infusion that will mitigate barriers to worker ownership.

Find out more about Cooperation Humboldt’s work

The ChiFresh Kitchen – 2020

ChiFresh Kitchen is a Chicago-based women- and minority-owned worker cooperative, owned and determined by formerly incarcerated Chicagoans, primarily Black women. ChiFresh is delivering prepared meals that are freshly cooked, healthy, delicious, and rooted in the culture and traditions of the people being served. ChiFresh pushed forward its intended launch in response to the COVID-19 crisis and its impact on Chicagoans of color and residents with low incomes.

Find out more about ChiFresh Kitchen’s work

The Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative – 2020

The Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative is a community-led economic development organization focused on building an equitable, democratic economy that creates shared wealth and ownership for people of color with low incomes. BCDI is supporting the creation of a worker-owned integrated pest management (IPM) co-op that provides living wages and the opportunity to scale through demand from institutional purchasers.

Find out more about BCDI’s work


The Guild – 2020

The Guild in Atlanta is focused on building community wealth through real estate, entrepreneurship programs, and access to capital, creating equitable and sustainable communities by addressing the root causes of economic inequality. The Guild is providing technical assistance to Black and Brown enterprises through its Community Wealth Building Accelerator; launching its Integrated Capital Fund that will coordinate and deploy different types of capital and investments to entrepreneurs of color; and launching the Groundcover Community Investment Trust to introduce an alternative real estate development model to the Atlanta community.

Find out more about The Guild’s innovative model

Community Labor Environment Action Network – 2019

The Community Labor Environment Action Network (CLEAN) is a grassroots, immigrant, car wash worker-led organization that seeks transformative change to the exploitative car wash industry. CLEAN is establishing CLEAN Carwash, a worker-owned car wash cooperative in Los Angeles that prioritizes worker and environmental rights, while working for improved pay and working conditions.

Find out more about CLEAN’s work

Independent Drivers Guild – 2019

The Independent Drivers Guild (IDG) represents more than 85,000 for-hire vehicle drives in New York City, 90 percent of whom are immigrant workers. IDG plans to launch a purchasing cooperative that will reduce expenses for drivers, and a worker cooperative to provide culturally appropriate meals-on-the-go for drivers.

Learn more about IDG’s innovative ideas

Centro de Trabajadores Unidos – 2019

Centro de Trabajadores Unidos: United Workers’ Center (Centro)’s goal is to transform the local economy in Chicago by empowering low-wage workers, especially immigrants, to achieve economic resilience through cooperative ownership. Centro is funding a dual-language, culturally appropriate train-the-trainer curriculum for both worker cooperative developers and individuals seeking to start worker cooperatives.

Learn more about Centro’s work

Sustainable Economies Law Center – 2018

Supporting residents in the Oakland area, the Sustainable Economies Law Center is incubating the East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative. EBPREC is piloting an innovative model that engages everyday people to organize, finance, acquire, and steward land and housing, particularly important for communities of color in and around Oakland that are experiencing rapid gentrification.

Take a Look at this Innovative Model

Association for Black Economic Power – 2018

Working to disrupt predatory lending practices in communities of color, the Association for Black Economic Power will create a Black-led financial cooperative credit union on the northside of Minneapolis called Village Trust Financial Cooperative. Fostering racial equity within financial services, the credit union will provide consumer loans to residents in the local area, as well as technical assistance and financial support for Black-led cooperatives throughout Minnesota.

Learn more about ABEP’s work

Food Co-op Initiative – 2017

Food Co-op Initiative used its award to establish a program providing support and guidance to the most promising low-income, urban food startup efforts. The program includes seed grants, technical assistance, and the creation of a strong support network among participating co-ops.

Learn more about Food Co-op Initiative’s work

Project Equity  – 2016 & 2017

Focusing on expanding its efforts to convert successful businesses to worker ownership, Project Equity seeks to increase access to quality jobs and create wealth building opportunities for low- to moderate-wage workers.

Learn more about Project Equity’s work

Democracy at Work Institute – 2015 & 2016

With more than $40,000 in grants through our Co-op Innovation Award, The Democracy at Work Initiative has spearheaded a national effort to help small, minority-owned businesses transition to worker-owned cooperatives.

Learn more about DAWI’s work

Interested in Our Cooperative Financing?

Learn More about Our Cooperative Work


We track and measure transformation in and among the communities we support. This ensures that the investment of capital and commitment translates into real, sustainable change. Ultimately, these efforts support the work of cooperatives to build communities of opportunity.


Graphic illustrating that Capital Impact has provided $283 million in financing to 213 cooperative businesses retailers serving more than 850 thousand customers