“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.


  • 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 at the end?
    • Yes. After graduation you will receive a certificate of completion. After successfully completing the academy you will also have the opportunity to become a full member of Worcester Youth Cooperatives. You may also become a teacher in future DTCA seasons and/or a mentor through our year-round co-op incubation program.

Curriculum Structure:

Read More in-depth about Our Co-op Academy below:

The “Dare to Co-op” Academy (DCTA) Curriculum is an 8-unit structure through which small groups of youth and young adults (Solidarity Groups) will be able to create “Cooperative Solutions (CSs)” to Social Issues They Care About.” A CS may be worker-owned cooperatives, serve-the-people (STP) survival programs, social justice campaigns, or alternative economic organizational forms (time banks, alternative currencies, etc), or another creative form developed by Worcester youth. DTCA starts in the middle of each winter and ends at the beginning of summer (24 weeks). 

Each unit covers a fundamental theme of creating a Cooperative Solution such as forming a Solidarity Group, honing the idea itself, understanding the factors of production, determining the economic organization of your enterprise, etc. Each of the eight themes are approached from a practical and theoretical level. 

Each unit consists of three components: two group study sessions and one practicum (participant-organized activity). Each component lasts for about three hours. Feedback from potential participants suggests that we can only complete one component per week. Therefore, each unit will take about three weeks to complete. There will be about two hours of individual work to be completed between weekly sessions. Completion of all eight units of DTCA my will therefore cover 24 weeks including time to work on final projects and graduation. Final projects may be either drafted by-laws or a drafted business plan, plus a “Pitch.” The Academy concludes with a graduation ceremony during which graduating Solidarity Groups pitch their “Cooperative Solution” to friends, family, community leaders, potential investors, and other supporters. 

DTCA Curriculum Snapshot:

Span of Academy: 24 weeks
Number of group study sessions: 14
Number of group planning sessions: 14
Number of practicum sessions: 7
Length of sessions: 3 hours each
Total training hours: 72
Total hours of “homework”: 48

Conclusion: Graduation Ceremony
Primary Outcome: 15+ youth and young adults who have completed draft by-laws and business plans who have pitched their “Cooperative Solution” to friends, family, community leaders, potential investors, and other supporters.