So It Begins! Youth Co-op Solutions Academy (YCSA) 2021

So it begins! Before February came to a close, we decided to Make Black History and launch our first youth-led co-learning space. Youth Cooperative Solutions Academy (YCSA) is planned as a 24-week program that supports youth to identify social issues they care about and create “cooperative solutions.” We welcomed an amazing group of WYC members and interns. First we got grounded talk about our origin story, reviewed our recent accomplishments, and mapped our network before going over logistics. We ended the session with a hour-long relationship-building activity that mixed various forms of self-expression.

“Dare to Co-op” Academy (DTCA)

“Dare to Co-op” Academy (DTCA) is FREE for youth (14-24) and young adults (25-29) to build cooperative solutions to social issues they care about. The purpose of DTCA is to provide the experiences, knowledge, resources, conditions, and relationships for small groups of 2 or more youth and/or young adults to design, plan, and launch their own cooperative businesses, programs, projects, or campaigns. No business or academic experience is necessary. The most important thing is the desire to do something for yourself and your community and the tendency to align with the Vision of Worcester Youth Cooperatives. FAQs What is “Dare to Co-op” Academy? a 24-week (meet once a week) learning experience with the goal of supporting your power to build community and launch your own cooperative. Is it free? Yes. You will also receive a stipend to support your participation. Is there an age limit? DTCA is open to youth and young adults in Worcester. Our target range is youth (14-24) and young adults (24-29), but there is some flexibility. If you fall outside of the range, reach out and we can talk. unite@worcesteryouthcoops.org When does the next DTCA start? Fall 2022 (Dates TBD) Do I have to have business experience? No What if I have a criminal record? Apply. Part of our mission is to provide opportunities for people outside of “mainstream” society. Do we have to apply as a group or can I apply just as myself? It is better to enter DTCA with a small group of friends or family members you already know and trust. However, if you already have a strong idea about a co-op you would like to start, please reach out and we can talk about helping you recruit members to your co-op from among our network. Is there a graduation? What happens … Continue Reading“Dare to Co-op” Academy (DTCA)

Towards Building Local Power and Self-Reliance in Worcester

Last month we had the chance to join Reggie Rucker and Luke Gannon on their podcast “Building Local Power” hosted by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. Follow the link below to hear WYC members Addison Turner, Mario Harper, & Samuel Posner discuss and unpack “[our] experience growing up in Worcester, lay out the social and cultural inequities that the city faces, and rewrite popular ideologies to encourage an active community.” https://ilsr.org/youth-present-episode157/ We developed the initial strategy of Worcester Youth Cooperatives after carefully considering the contradictory and complex ways our social, economic, and political relations are interwoven. We understand the ways in which daily life is reproduced through the motion of global economic imperialism challenges our desire build power locally in mutual self-determination with oppressed communities around the world. Our first experiments to genuinely change our community have yielded so many valuable results, connections, & lessons we are working to integrate into our evolving framework. Shout-out to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance for inviting us to join their Podcast to share our stories and uplift our local effort! Transcript provided by and available at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance Addison Turner: It’s not just about giving people things, and then walking away, but establishing a relationship with the intention of supporting the self-determination and survival of people who are at risk due to oppression, exploitation, and social exclusion. And that’s where we developed the Worcester Youth Cooperatives model is to work our own cooperatives so that we are producing value democratically. Reggie Rucker: Hello, and welcome to Building Local Power, a podcast from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance dedicated to challenging corporate monopolies and expanding the power of people to shape their own future. I am Reggie Rucker, one of the hosts on this journey. On today’s show, we are engaging … Continue ReadingTowards Building Local Power and Self-Reliance in Worcester

Save the Bridge!

Save the Bridge…and Advance the Peoples’ Struggle 🙂 The Bridge has been our home since we got started in October 2020. This page represents is meant to represent our feelings towards The Bridge as a community, our passion to continue fighting to preserve our home and live this community struggle. Here’s the story…The Sargent Card Clothing Factory (built 1866) is home to The Bridge, “a vibrant community of artists, educators and crafts people.” The Bridge and the famous Miss Worcester diner share a single deed owned by a trust, and the owner has an offer on the table for $950,000. Starting on March 16, 2021, the owner has given us a 2 week grace period to match the current offer and it starts today, March 16th 2021. If we don’t organize a critical mass of support soon we will likely be displaced and the building turned into luxury condos. Although $1,000,000 in two weeks seems like a lot, we understand that it’s the people who are decisive, not the money. If enough people show their support and back up their desire to Save the Bridge through action, the balance will shift. The situation will change, the building will be ours, and The Bridge will belong to the community as long as we hold the line that not only protects but advances our cause! We got this! Here’s some pictures of some of us celebrating our first day after moving to The Bridge: Media Coverage of the Campaign so far: Bill Shaner – “The Bridge’s Last Stand” – March 20, 2021 (Recommended Read) Mass Live – Tom Matthews – March 19, 2021 Telegram – Marco Cortolano – March 19, 2021 Some Next Steps March 24 (Wed) 4:30pm – 6:30pm – RALLY! March 27 (Sat) 1:00pm – 4:00pm – RAFFLE DRAWING AND ON-SITE FUNDRAISER … Continue ReadingSave the Bridge!

Serve-The-People (STP) Programs

Serve-The-People (STP) Programs are Cooperative Solutions that provide direct service to the community. Envisioned, planned, and operated by our youth and young adult members, STP programs serve as a model for people in general and young people in particular to take organized, concrete direct actions to meet peoples’ direct needs on the basis of Mutual Aid and Solidarity. STP programs are sustained in part by revenue from our Worker-Owned Cooperatives. Please visit the pages of the STP programs currently being run by our youth and young adult members: Survival, Outreach, and Solidarity Worcester (SOS 508) …Your STP program… If you are a young person in the City of Worcester who wants to volunteer for one of our existing STP programs, please contact us. If you are a young person in the City of Worcester who wants support in envisioning, organizing, and funding your own STP program, please apply to our next Co-op Academy where you will have the opportunity to participate in our 23-week curriculum and access our support network.

Worker-Owned Cooperatives

Worker-Owned Cooperatives are businesses in which the company is owned and managed by the workers themselves. Among other things, this means that the workers share in the profits (or losses) equitably. In other words, Worker-Owned Cooperatives are a form of Democracy applied directly in the rhythm of daily life at the workplace. There are over 40 Massachusetts-based Worker-Owned Cooperatives and Democratic Workplaces registered in the United States Federation of Worker-Owned Cooperatives’ and Democracy and Work Institute’s Directory. We intend to infuse Massachusetts’ growing Co-op community with the energy, direction, and focus that only our youth can bring to the table! Please Visit the Pages of the Worker-Owned Cooperatives Youth we are currently supporting: DoughBoyz HydroPros Farm Worcester Youth Co-op for Self-Defense & Power (WYC-SDP) 508 BikeLife Presents: BikeLife Delivery Co-op …Your Worker-Owned Cooperative… Worker-Owned Cooperatives are one of several kinds of “Cooperative Solutions” we support the youth and young adults in our community to create during our 24-week “Dare to Co-op Academy” If you and a small group of people have a business idea or a vision of to organize and improve your community by creating a youth-powered enterprise, please do not hesitate to contact us or sign up for our next Co-op Academy. Learn more about Worker-Owned Cooperatives at the United States Federation of Worker-Owned Cooperatives

We are Worcester Youth Cooperatives!

Welcome! We are Worcester Youth Cooperatives. We are an autonomous collective of youth-run cooperatives that pools together resources and skills to transform our communities, educate other youth to start their own cooperatives, and struggle together for collective liberation! In September, 2020 6 high school seniors founded WYCs in the midst of the CoronaVirus Pandemic. Genesis, Yari, Laci, Livingston, Jahir, and Mekhi saw that homelessness, the opiate pandemic, hunger, and other systemic problems were exacerbated by the global spread of the virus. The youth linked up with their friends, Mutual Aid Worcester, 508 BikeLife, and community allies to rapidly organize 3 “cooperative solutions” to social issues they cared about: “Hydroponic Healers Co-op” grows produce which, “BikeLife Delivery Co-op“ distributes along with items from food pantries and various other sources while “S.O.S. Worcester“ unites with the most vulnerable members of our community in the course of providing access to life-saving resources and even free basic medical services to the streets! This is just the beginning. We want to inspire more youth to start co-ops through our “Co-op Solutions Academy” and indirectly through our example. You don’t need any credentials to organize and NO ONE needs to give you permission to change your community! Find out how to Unite With Us, and all are invited to Support Youth Power by contributing monetary resources towards our organizing.

Youth (under 24) and Young Adults (25-29)

Internship Opportunities for ages 14-18 (Spring-Summer 2021) Youth and young adults can unite with us by participating in our annual Youth Co-op Solutions Academy (YCSA) which runs for 24 weeks from January until the end of June. successful completion of our (YCSA) is required in order to become a full WYC member.Applications for this year are currently closed, but feel free to reach out anytime. If you want to start a cooperative business, serve-the-people program, or social justice campaign, we can meet you where you’re at and support you in developing your project in other ways. You don’t need to be a member of WYC or complete YCSA to receive our support. Any questions? Let’s talk worcesteryouthcoop@gmail.com

Our Origin

Worcester Youth Cooperatives was founded in October 2020 by 6 high school seniors in the midst of the Corona Virus Pandemic. Genesis, Yari, Laci, Livingston, Jah’ir, and Mekhi saw that homelessness, the opiate pandemic, hunger, and other systemic problems were exacerbated by the drastic social restructuring required by the global spread of the virus. The youth linked up with their friends, Mutual Aid Worcester, and other community allies to rapidly organize 3 “cooperative solutions” to social issues they felt impacting their community. “Hydroponics Co-op” grows produce which “BikeLife Delivery Co-op“ distributes along with items from food pantries and various other sources while “S.O.S. Worcester“ has focused on developing deep relationships with the most vulnerable members of their community in the course of providing access to life-saving resources and even free basic medical services to the streets. Before September, the founders were part of an educational program where they grew hydroponic vegetables and learned the basics of cooperative economics. As their vision evolved and their concern for the intersecting issues of the opiate pandemic, homelessness, and gentrification grew sharper, they found the growth and application of their vision stunted by an inadequate support system where they were at. In a critical moment the youth made a consensus decision to set out on their own and co-create an answer. The organizational form and structure of Worcester Youth Cooperatives represents our desire to continue learning in the co-op movement while assisting other youth and young adults to self-organize, implement and design co-ops that become vehicles of social change. You can also witness our origin story by watching our short documentary “RADIX” here: By mid-October, we linked up with the City of Worcester Division of Youth Opportunities and leaders in the co-op and Solidarity Economy movement to design a “Youth Co-op Academy” Curriculum and … Continue ReadingOur Origin

Our Program

Worcester Youth Cooperatives provides free education and mentorship to under-served youth and young adults in the city of Worcester, Massachusetts. We support the capacity of program participants to coordinate their resources and abilities around individual and community needs and thereby aid and organize them in solving social problems. For that purpose, we have designed an 7-phase Youth Co-op Solutions Academy (YCSA) Curriculum and embedded it within a year-long cycle of youth mentorship, power-building, and cooperative ecosystem development. The 7 phases (Seeds, Radicles, Roots, Trunks, Branches, Buds, Flowers) of our Co-op Academy culminates into a celebratory Graduation Flower-phase in early Summer. During the summer, the youth embark on an intensive summer period of hard work within their co-ops. This summer season coincides with close mentorship to help them work through the kinks of the inner workings of their projects. As Summer transitions to Fall, the youth evaluate the fruits of their learning and labor. Once the annual evaluation is completed, the youth and their adult allies and elders present their findings and  enjoy the fruits of their labor during an annual Harvest Festival. The Harvest Festival will serve as a celebratory Annual Meeting at which individual and collective achievements will be honored and relationships of solidarity will be reinforced. The Harvest Festival is also an opportunity for youth participants to literally and figuratively invite new youth to the table through recruitment. Following the Harvest Festival, youth who are willing, able, and approved by the general membership and board to become facilitators and/or mentors during the next Co-op Academy season. Youth mentors and facilitators are trained toward the end of Fall and Beginning of Winter as they adjust curriculum for the cohort.