Worcester Youth Cooperatives was founded in September 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.
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 a year-round program for stewardship of a youth-owned co-op network in the city of Worcester that serves as an example for youth and their allies in other communities.
Our core message is “youth are not the future, WE ARE THE PRESENT.” We do not need to wait until adulthood to organize resources and make decisions that create, impact and uplift communities. We value education and we understand that learning and teaching are embodied practices that don’t start and end in the classroom. We also recognize that people do not need specialized degrees to identify problems and design courses of action and a rhythm of socio-economic life that becomes healthy communities.
Thank you for visiting our page and joining us on this journey! We will continue actively recruiting youth, adults, and elders who have the desire and capacity to unite meaningfully and effectively with us in our work. If you have questions, suggestions, or ideas for us, please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org