Annual D.C. Co-op Impact Grant
Grants for emerging and existing cooperatively-owned businesses
Washington Area Community Investment Fund, with support from Citi Community Development and Capital Impact Partners, launched the inaugural D.C. Co-op Impact Award in 2020 to support the growth of emerging and existing cooperatively-owned businesses in the Greater Washington Region.
Nationwide, cooperatives are on the rise to create dignified employment, ownership, and wealth-building opportunities. More and more, communities are seeing the benefits that democratic ownership can provide, particularly in marginalized communities. The purpose of the D.C. Co-op Impact Award is to support early-stage cooperatives while catalyzing growth, boosting the localized economy in marginalized communities and providing catalytic capital to attract other funders. The awardees are expanding the cooperative model in the District, Maryland, and Northern Virginia led by people of color and/or members of a historically disinvested community.
Historically, communities of color in the District, and low-income communities, developed co-ops to create sustainable work, community-led micro economies, and truly affordable housing. The benefits that cooperatives provide are particularly important in the context of the economic hardships brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 grants were awarded in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, and helped the businesses pivot, survive, and even thrive during a time of tremendous uncertainty. The 2021 grants helped mobilize necessary support for early-stage cooperatives as they create resilient infrastructure and economic opportunity for both their businesses and communities. As the Greater Washington region undergoes a period of economic recovery, funding relief is critical to maintaining the resiliency of the region’s small businesses.
Get notified when applications open
The next round of funding will be made available in the spring of 2022.
0%of awards went to existing or emerging cooperatively owned businesses operated by people of color and/or workers living with low wages
$0in grant awards were distributed
0grant recipients across the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Northern Virginia
CareWorks Community Homecare Cooperative
CareWorks Community Homecare Cooperative will create quality jobs for Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) workers and enhance homecare service delivery for residents in Highland Park (Ward 8), a community facing some of the highest chronic health conditions and disparities in Washington, D.C. The co-op will be supported by Dynamic Solutions for the Aging, LLC, a minority–owned health and housing organization located in Ward 8 that focuses on aging and community development. Funds will be used to conduct a feasibility study of the local market and proof of concept for the homecare co-op.
Vendedores Unidos / Vendors United (VU)
Vendedores Unidos / Vendors United (VU) is a collective, looking to create a cooperative, formed in response to laws penalizing street and sidewalk vendors, including a 90–day prison sentence for operating without a license. Black, African, and Latinx street entrepreneurs face deep systemic barriers, and VU has tirelessly advocated for policy changes to increase the safety and accessibility of street vending. The co-op will ensure equitable wages and jobs for vendors, and will provide some of the most vulnerable workers in the city an opportunity to transition out of an informal economy and gain control over their workplace. The funds will be used to formalize the co-op and provide technical assistance, including bookkeeping, conflict resolution, and personal financial literacy.
Deanwood Co-op (name TBD) is a start-up, worker-owned grocery store bringing organic and locally grown foods to the neighborhood, supporting local Black and brown farmers, and creating jobs for Ward 7’s Deanwood community. The grocery store will be the cornerstone of a community-focused mixed–use development called Deanwood Station, supported by CDC Medici Road. This innovative model will enable members of the community to obtain ownership equity and benefit from the success of a business that they co-own. Funds will support business planning and worker-owner training.
The D.C. Language Co-op
The D.C. Language Co-op will launch in 2021 to provide language access for monolingual, non-English speakers, subsidized services for organizations unable to afford interpretation services, and training and mentorship for bilingual young people pursuing interpretation careers. The co-op will formalize the group currently providing freelance services (recently working at a Vendedores Unidos/Vendors United event), and will deliver professional development
Bloc by Block News
Bloc by Block News will launch a news portal (platform media co-op) in Howard County, MD. Through a mobile app, communities that have historically been ignored and marginalized in the media will receive credible and relevant journalism, and become empowered to take informed action on local issues.
Community Grocery Cooperative
Community Grocery Cooperative is organizing a cooperative, consumer-owned grocery store in Ward 7 or 8 that will provide local healthy food to residents that is affordable, sustainable, equitable, and reliable. The funding will be used to launch a mobile pop-up shop to test locations and products, engage with residents, and build momentum for a permanent location.
Community Kitchen Cooperative (CKC)
Community Kitchen Cooperative (CKC) plans to launch a cooperatively-operated, commissary kitchen space to support entrepreneurs of color, from and within historically disinvested communities. CKC has engaged Dreaming Out Loud to steward alumni from its accelerator program into this cooperative commissary space, targeting people of color. This co-op will serve as a model for inclusive food enterprise that is focused on quality jobs and cost savings through collective capacity.
The D.C. Pop-Up
The D.C. Pop-Up is a collaborative of D.C.-based makers who create products through the Made in D.C. program. Their goal is to address the market barriers for women and minority-owned brands by providing a cooperative retail space for owners to sell their products and increase brand exposure. D.C. Pop-Up will utilize this grant to formally organize as a cooperative.
Earth-Bound Building is a worker cooperative in Prince George’s County, MD, created by black farmers and activists in 2014 in response to a severe lack of skilled tradespeople of color. Earth-Bound Building will use this grant to subsidize a four-day Intensive Timber Framing workshops for Black, Indigenous, women, and queer tradespeople, with the goal of creating a safe educational environment for new builders to develop new skills that are in high demand in the region.
The Farm Cooperative
The Farm Cooperative (name TBD) is a collective of three women of color who operate local farming operations through Three Part Harmony Farm (DC), flowers x flores (DC), and Deep Roots Farm (MD). This collaborative creates connections between urban and rural farm systems. The grant would enable them to transition to operating as a cooperative, formalize their operations, and fund corresponding legal expenses.
Starseed Earthroot is a collective of trans and gender-expansive queer activists looking to be a catalyst for land access, food sovereignty, and restorative agricultural practices. This grant will build capacity and leadership structures that align with their social justice vision, allowing members to acquire skills that have been hard to access in many professional spaces due to structural barriers that create unsafe spaces for people of color and gender non-conforming individuals.