2008 Grants and 2009 Plans at the Howard Bowers Fund

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Training and education are critical to the success of any co-op, and the Howard Bowers Fund helps provide them for staff, management, and board members of food co-ops. Since its founding in 1993, the Bowers Fund has given $220,165 in grants, invested $50,000 in both Northcountry Cooperative Development Fund and Cooperative Fund of New England for loans to food co-ops, and has built its endowment from $50,000 to over $250,000! All this has been possible because of the generosity of individuals and cooperatives in the food co-op community. Thank you!

The grants have supported education and programs that include board training for individual cooperatives, scholarships for CCMA participants, the Traveling Co-op Institute, the “How to Start a Food Co-op” manual, the Manager on Contract program, a CoCoWorks produce workshop, the Livable Wage model, the flow chart section of Food Co-op 500, and a regional seminar on starting a food co-op.

In 2008, the Fund made 12 grants: $14,136 to UW-Madison for CCMA scholarships, $1,000 to Plainfield Co-op for board governance, and $14,200 in Bowers Day grants to Yahara River, Mandela Foods, Fiddleheads, Miami-Oxford, Harvest Moon, Sierra Vista, Friendly City, Community Market, Company Shops, and Vancouver food co-ops. In early 2009, the Fund made a $5,000 grant to NCGA to update the “How to Start a Food Co-op” manual.

To support Food Co-op 500, in 2007, the Bowers Fund trustees decided to dedicate the Howard Bowers Day contributions to co-ops that are new or about to open. That year, 10 new or almost-open co-ops received grants of $1,700 or $1,000, and this focus was maintained for Howard Bowers Day 2008. The following organizing co-ops will receive grants of $1,000 each for management and board training:

  • Big Spring Co-op in Lewistown, Mont.
  • Canaan Community Co-op in Detroit, Mich.
  • Chatham Real Food Market Co-op in Chatham, N.Y..
  • Harvest Moon Natural Foods Co-op in Long Lake, Minn.
  • Indy Food Co-op in Indianapolis, Ind.
  • New Orleans Food Co-op in New Orleans, La.

In 2009 the Bowers Fund will recruit new trustees, oversee the awards at the CCMA conference, and continue to strengthen the food co-op sector through raising contributions and disbursing grants. CCMA (held in June) will feature a silent auction, another fun fund-raising event for the Bowers Fund that will include local and regional specialties, co-op products, and unique items. In October, co-ops participating in Howard Bowers Day donate 1 percent of their sales that day to the Bowers Fund.

The trustees of the Howard Bowers Fund are: Alex Gyori of Brattleboro Food Co-op, Paul Harton of Briar Patch Co-op Market, Annie Hoy of Ashland Food Co-op, Mari Niescior of Outpost Natural Foods Cooperative, Bob Noble of Weavers Way Co-op, and Karen Zimbelman of NCGA. The Bowers Fund is managed by the Cooperative Development Foundation (CDF), a national community fund for cooperatives.

For more information, or if you are interested in being a trustee of the Bowers Fund, please see www.cdf.coop or contact Ellen Quinn at [email protected] or 202/383-5474.

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