NCBA CLUSA Supports Youth Cooperative Movement Before Puerto Rican House of Representatives

NCBA CLUSA Supports Youth Cooperative Movement Before
Puerto Rican House of Representatives

(SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO)—In a meeting with the Commission on Cooperatives and Non-profit Organizations today in San Juan, NCBA CLUSA Chief Operating Officer, Amy Coughenour Betancourt, supported a newly formed youth cooperative—Coopare— focused on advancing youth development and leadership among Puerto Rican youth. The meeting with the Commission was intended to promote the mission of Coopare and seek resources and support.

“Puerto Rico has a rich and long history in the cooperative movement, and in many ways, has been a pioneer. However, it is important to continue to foster the next generation of leaders, and Coopare is a great vehicle for this,” explains Coughenour.

Coopare focuses on the development of the arts, recreation, and business among youth. It formed with the support of COSIANI, an early childhood education services cooperative that provides professional development, training, and services within the early childhood education field.

Puerto Rico Congressional VisitPuerto Rico Congressional VisitLeft to Right: Meeting with NCBA CLUSA, Coopare, and the Puerto Rican Commission for Cooperatives and Non-profit Organizations of the House of Representatives. Amy Coughenour Betancourt, COO, NCBA CLUSA; Leonel Rodriguez, Member; Gian Franco Vazquez, Member; Jessica Carnivali, Secretary; Jose Miguel Ortiz, Vice President; Jan Milton Bayon, President; Michael Rivera De Jesus, Commission Technical Officer; Gisela Crespo, Member.Coopare got its start by addressing two particular needs—first, the need for quality summer camps for children, and the need for Puerto Rican youth to develop job and leadership skills. They worked with COSIANI to support its network of summer camps by recruiting and vetting youth volunteers. These camps are carried out in collaboration with the housing cooperative sector.

As Coopare developed, it recognized the need for leadership training and the provision of services to organizations interested in reaching the youth segment. It began delivering workshops, training, and other outreach services to help young people develop their skills.

Now, the 42 youth member owners of Coopare have a bigger vision. “We want to bring together the youth cooperatives around Puerto Rico and create a network of cooperative development and leadership,” shared Coopare’s President, Jan Milton Bayón. DeMarie Valentin, Director of COSIANI added: "This vision includes learning from one another and connecting with other youth cooperatives in other parts of the world."

“The potential of this group is tremendous,” stated Michael Rivera de Jesus, technical officer of the Commission. “There is a big demand for the services that they provide.”

“NCBA CLUSA’s role today is to lend our organization’s voice in support of this youth-led effort, just like we do in many other parts of the world, such as Kenya, Mozambique, and 13 other countries,” stated Coughenour. With the support of the Commission and the rest of the cooperative community in Puerto Rico, I believe Coopare can have a very bright future.”

The National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International (NCBA CLUSA) is the apex association for cooperative businesses in the United States and an international development organization working in areas such as food security, climate-smart agriculture, and cooperative development. NCBA CLUSA provides cross-sector education, support, and advocacy that helps co-ops thrive. For nearly 100 years NCBA CLUSA has sought to advance and protect cooperative enterprises, highlighting the impact that cooperatives in bettering the lives of individuals and families. In the last 60 years, NCBA CLUSA has the improved economic and social well-being of millions of farmers and their families in over 100 countries.


NCBA Launches Financial Counseling Certification as Part of Community Development Initiative

NCBA Launches Financial Counseling Certification as Part of Community Development InitiativeNCBA Launches Financial Counseling Certification as Part of Community Development Initiative

Washington, DC – February 19, 2013 – Today, the National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International (NCBA CLUSA) announced a community development initiative that launches with a program to certify credit union staff as financial counselors, ready to protect their most vulnerable members from predatory lenders. The Community Development Certified Financial Counseling (CDCFC) program trains credit union staff to identify financial distress and work directly with members to prevent financial catastrophe. CU Strategic Planning created the CDCFC training, and NCBA CLUSA is the certifying body for the program.

“Working people have been having a difficult time in this economy,” said NCBA CLUSA President and Chief Executive Officer Mike Beall. “All cooperatives—especially credit unions—have a role to play in improving the lives of their members. Having a concern for the community is one of the core principles of cooperatives. Credit union staff members that participate in the CDCFC program will understand how best to support working people that are finding it hard to make ends meet. Without this type of support from the credit union, these people can fall victim to predatory lenders.”

The national member association representing cooperatives in the United States, NCBA CLUSA provides to its members a variety of tools and resources to assist in strengthening and developing cooperatives. The community development initiative complements existing programs by providing practical tools, training, and capacity building that aid cooperatives in becoming more capable of participating and succeeding in community development work. 

Beall considers the CDCFC program a key component of NCBA CLUSA’s community development efforts. “This tool is a great piece to help us get where we want to go domestically,” he said. “NCBA CLUSA is working with cooperatives on developing community based, sustainable wealth-building strategies and increasing collaboration among cooperatives. The CDCFC program can involve credit unions in building community wealth and enable them to promote their financial products to complement established community-building efforts.” 

“Having the NCBA CLUSA as a certifying agent for our CDCFC online training program is a boon for low-income communities nationwide to have the tools to build a solid foundation of financial stability – and ultimately wealth,” says CU Strategic Planning Founder and Instigator of Goodness Jamie Chase. “We look forward to a long and prosperous relationship with NCBA CLUSA to help each other assisting consumers gain a solid financial footing for their futures that ultimately transfers to more flourishing communities.” 

One credit union has recognized the value of the CDFC program as a way to assist members. Pelican State Credit Union ($200 million: 33,530 members; Baton Rouge, LA) CEO Jeff Conrad noticed that over the last five years the credit scores of Pelican’s members had dropped, sometimes leaving them ineligible for loans for which they formerly qualified. Conrad certified all of his staff through the CDFC program so that every staff member is empowered to help its members build wealth and improve their financial state. 

During an event to launch NCBA CLUSA’s community development initiative on Feb. 26, 2013, Beall will recognize Pelican State Credit Union as the nation’s first financial institution to certify its entire staff through the CDCFC training program. 


The National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International (NCBA CLUSA) is the trade association for cooperative businesses in the United States and an international development organization. NCBA CLUSA provides cross-sector education, technical assistance, and advocacy that helps co-ops thrive. For nearly 100 years, NCBA CLUSA has sought to advance and protect cooperative enterprises, highlighting the impact that cooperatives have in bettering the lives of individuals and families. In the last 60 years, NCBA CLUSA has worked in over 100 countries in the areas of food security, agricultural development, strengthening of communities and farmer organizations, community-based health, natural resources management, and empowerment of smallholder farmers, women, and youth. We currently work in 15 countries in Africa, Latin America, and Asia.

About CU Strategic Planning (

Headquartered in Tacoma, WA, with satellite offices in San Diego, CA and Boston, MA, CU Strategic Planning is the only strategic planning facilitator in the United States with the mission to help credit unions realize their potential through the International Credit Union Operating Principles. It is widely considered the #1 writer of credit union Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) grant applications. No firm serving credit unions writes and wins more CDFI awards than CU Strategic Planning. Its “Miracle Makers” have 100 percent success with CDFI certification.


October is Co-op Month 2015!

CoopMonth-stamp-web c64ecCoopMonth-stamp-web c64ecNCBA CLUSA invites you to participate in the 2015 Co-op Month, celebrating all the ways co-ops build a better world—through equality, through ownership and by investing in people and their communities. 

Since 1930, co-ops across the United States have convened every October to celebrate the cooperative movement's history and economic impact on communities nationwide. The annual awareness month provides a key opportunity to reflect on the legacy of cooperative impact and celebrate the many ways co-ops are building better businesses, better communities and, ultimately, a better world. 

We're thrilled to work together this October to energize the cooperative network and help generate the awareness and recognition the movement deserves. Together, we can build a better world with businesses consumers consistently rate as more trustworthy than for-profit businesses, according to the results of the first public opinion survey on cooperatives in more than a decade. Click here to learn more. 

We hope the 2015 Co-op Month Communication Toolkit helps you advance this shared goal. The toolkit includes print-ready posters, sharable social media graphics, sample social media posts and ideas for celebrating Co-op Month.

Use or adapt these sample documents to start planning your own Co-op Month celebration. 

Print Ready Posters 

Print and display in your co-op or include in your cooperative newsletter or other member resource. 

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Design 1




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Design 2 




Sharable Social Media Graphics

We've created graphics that are optimized for social media to help you celebrate Co-op Month. Please consider using them on your co-op's website and social media platforms during the month of October, as well as posting to your personal Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media accounts. 

Horizontal stamp .png CLICK TO DOWNLOAD

Round stamp .png CLICK TO DOWNLOAD

Sample Social Media Posts 

Post the following samples or create your own for your co-op's Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account. Be sure to tag all of your Co-op Month posts with the hashtags #CoopMonth2015, #GoCoop and #Cooptober so you can see how your friends and colleagues are celebrating, share your own ideas and get some new ones. 

October is #CoopMonth2015. Support your local co-ops! #GoCoop #Cooptober 

Happy #CoopMonth2015. See the great work [your organization] is doing: [link to your website]. #GoCoop #Cooptober 

Build a better world through cooperation! #GoCoop #CoopMonth2015 #Cooptober [insert Co-op Month poster jpg]

Build a better world with businesses you trust! #GoCoop #CoopMonth2015 #Cooptober [insert Co-op Month poster jpg]

Did you know one in three Americans is a member of a co-op? Join in! #GoCoop #CoopMonth2015 #Cooptober 

Did you know co-ops are consistently rated more trustworthy than for-profit businesses? Help spread the word! #GoCoop #CoopMonth2015. 

Ideas for Celebrating Co-op Month

Use these suggestions to help kick off your Co-op Month event planning. However you celebrate, let us know by tagging your social media posts with the hashtags #CoopMonth, #GoCoop and #Cooptober. 

  • OwnIt! Embrace your co-op identity by owning a .coop domain and registering to use the co-op mark. These public-facing visual identifiers make it easy to promote the cooperative difference. You already own your business. Now own your identity! 

  • If you'll be in the Washington, D.C. area on October 3, register to run in the 27th Annual Co-op 5K at Hains Point Park. This year's race is a great opportunity to show support for NRECA President Jo Ann Emerson, who remains hospitalized after suffering a brain hemorrhage earlier this year. 

  • Join your local co-op. Already a member of a credit union? Start shopping at your local food co-op, and look for other cooperative businesses to support in your community. October is a great time to #GoCoop by example. If you're already a member of your local co-ops, consider encouraging those co-ops to join NCBA CLUSA. Or, show your personal support and become an individual member

  • Reserve a booth at your local community fair or festival to promote your co-op. 

  • Host a co-op themed block party with food catered by your local food co-op. 

  • Organize a roadside or river cleanup project to demonstrate your co-op's concern for community. 

  • Work with a local health clinic to organize free health screenings or flu shots at your co-op. 

  • Open your co-op as a community space for tutoring or ESL classes. 

The sky's the limit when it comes to getting involved and sharing the impact your co-op has on your community! Let's start sharing all the ways co-ops are building a better world.

NCBA CLUSA webinar reveals consumer knowledge, perception of co-ops

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(August 24, 2015)

NCBA CLUSA’s VP of Advocacy Alan Knapp and Director of Communication John Torres unpacked the results of a survey of more than 1,000 Americans during a webinar last week called, “Consumer Knowledge and Perception of Co-ops.”

Based on the results of the first public opinion survey on cooperatives in more than a decade, the webinar revealed data critical to the growth, visibility and impact of the cooperative movement in the U.S.

The survey, conducted by ORC International in April, reveals that Americans rate member-owned co-ops higher than for-profit businesses in each of the following value indicators—often by margins of 15 – 20 percentage points—despite slim overall knowledge of the co-op business model:

• Have the best interest of the consumer in mind
• Run business in a trustworthy manner
• Committed to/involved in their communities
• Committed to the highest quality of service
• Offer fair, competitive prices
• Can be counted on to meet customers’ needs
• Provide products/services of high value

For-profit businesses scored higher only in the “offer customers more choices” category, and only by 5 percentage points. The survey results assume a 3 percent margin of error, with a 95 percent confidence level, Knapp told webinar participants.

Of the respondents, only 25 percent identified as co-op members, but when counting respondents who said they belong to a credit union, utility co-op or mutual insurance company, the number rises to 43 percent.

Still, “well over half of the people surveyed said they don’t belong to a co-op, yet they think co-ops are highly valuable in the marketplace,” Knapp said. “I think the key takeaway here is that while awareness level is still very low, consumer confidence is high, so how do we bridge that gap? I think we use this value proposition to drive better awareness and more understanding of what co-ops are and do.”

Questions based on gender, age, region, race/ethnicity, household income, household size, number of children and education level were critical in revealing the demographics of co-op membership. The survey indicates that consumer knowledge and understanding of co-ops is the narrowest among young adults, low-income households and people of color—groups Knapp and Torres said the co-op community must make a better effort to serve.

Familiarity with the organization and philosophy of cooperatives and co-op membership grew as education, household income and age increased. The survey found that most co-op members are age 65+, college educated and earning more than $100,000 per year. They were also largely white and mostly concentrated in the Midwest and South.

Thomas Bowen, NCBA CLUSA Former Director of Membership and webinar moderator, said that while surveys provide significant data, the numbers alone don’t suggest a clear path forward.

“What should we do with the data? I think the answer is, telling our story. We say this on every webinar, but it’s so important to share the changes in communities because of co-ops,” Bowen said.

Torres agreed, adding that surveys such as this one help co-op members and supporters avoid misdirecting those stories. “I think we often end up telling our story to people who already recognize the co-op difference. Surveys like this one allow us to identify the key audiences we really need to work on reaching, focusing our efforts to have the greatest impact.” 

NCBA Budget Deal Statement


No Tax Increase for Cooperatives in New Bipartisan Budget Deal

Congressional budget negotiators approved a spending plan this week without including measures that would increase taxes on cooperatives. H.J. Res. 59, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a 332-94 vote yesterday and is expected to be approved by the U.S. Senate as well and signed by the president next week. It will set spending levels for the rest of the current fiscal year as well as fiscal year 2015. The $85 billion deal restores $62 billion in scheduled sequester cuts that were slated in fiscal years 2014 and 2015 and preserves the remaining $23 billion toward overall deficit reduction.

“We are delighted to hear that Congress has negotiated a bipartisan budget plan that moves us forward on setting the nation’s spending levels without using tax increases that would affect cooperatives to pay for restoring cuts slated to take affect because of the sequester,” said Michael Beall, president of NCBA CLUSA. “We have been in ongoing contact with key House and Senate staff as the process unfolded. This is a testament to the work of the cooperative community in helping to create an environment where that discussion was left off the table this time.”

The Bipartisan Budget Act caps discretionary spending in fiscal year 2014 (which lasts through September 30, 2014) at $1.012 trillion and at $1.013 in fiscal year 2015. Without this agreement, sequestration levels would have capped spending at $967 billion in fiscal year 2014. Under this plan, non-defense spending would increase approximately 5% during this period from about $469 billion to $492 billion. This potentially would affect many agricultural and foreign affairs programs that NCBA CLUSA advocates for.

Many of the offsets and revenue raised to pay for this added spending comes from various forms of fee revenue, such as increases in security-related fees charged by the Transportation Security Administration, and again not from tax revenue as some policymakers had proposed as an option early on in these negotiations.

Congress will still have to pass a continuing resolution or omnibus appropriations bill with these new budget caps for fiscal year 2014 by January 15, 2014 or the country will face another government shutdown. Stay tuned.


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