Building a Culture of Excellence

Thanks to everyone who attended the third workshop in our 2019 “Commit to Co-ops” series. Beth Beutel of Wheatsville Food Co-op explored performance issues within cooperatives, and how you can overcome organizational challenges to help your cooperative achieve long-term excellence. She explained how you can use six simple steps to create concrete solutions to problems such as absenteeism or lack of engagement. As a bonus her presentation is full of amazingly adorable animal memes!


Below we have the third episode of our Commit to Co-ops! podcast hosted by ACBA Board member and co-op leader Ryan Nill! You can hear the workshop in its entirety, including responses and questions from the audience, and follow along with the presentation. This handout can also help you to work through the issues discussed in the workshop.

Stay tuned for the next episode and recap of our fourth workshop, Beyond with the Breakdown: Communication in Co-ops, presented by Kavita Koppa, coming sometime in the summer.

Also be sure to attend the next workshop on July 20, Convert Your Business to a Co-op, a panel moderated by ACBA President Donald Jackson. More details coming!

"Building Resilient Communities" Panel Podcast


This podcast is the “Building Resilient Communities” panel that was held at the New Story Festival. The panel is moderated by Annelies Lottman, from the Yard to Market Co-op and the Texas Rural Cooperative Center, featured on the panel are:  

·         Frankie Bayne from the Central Texas Farmer’s Co-op

·         Dana Curtis from Key Figures Cooperative

·         Ryan Nill from Community Housing Expansion of Austin and ACBA board member

·         Robert Burns from College Houses co-ops

Participatory Bylaws and Cooperative Practice


Thanks to everyone who was able to attend the second workshop in our 2019 “Commit to Co-ops” series. Kristin Scheel and Myra Dioquino of Scheel Legal explored how bylaws development presents co-op owners with an opportunity to have important conversations, create clarity and transparency, build trust, and increase access to power. They explained how bylaws development can also go terribly wrong if they are difficult to understand, exclude people, or reproduce oppressive dynamics. By engaging in a living bylaws development process, co-op owners can consider the impact of structure and agreements on co-op culture, and learn from the experiences of other co-ops of various sizes and shapes.

This workshop is also the second episode of our new podcast from ACBA Board member and co-op leader Ryan Nill! You can hear the workshop as well as Q&A with Kristin and Myra in the link below and follow along with the presentation.

Stay tuned for the next episode and recap of our third workshop by Beth Beutel of Wheatsville Co-op on “Developing a Culture of Excellence” at your co-op.

Also be sure to attend the next workshop, Beyond the Breakdown: Communication in Co-ops, hosted by Kavita Koppa, on Saturday, April 6th.

Back to Basics: Credit and Capital Purchases


Thanks to everyone who was able to attend the first workshop in our 2019 “Commit to Co-ops” series. Kavita Koppa explored different options for making big purchases as a cooperative business with a focus on how to be eligible for a loan. It included basics on business finances as well as myths about business finance, how to minimize financial risk as a business, and Texas-specific resources to help move forward with your business purchases.

This workshop is also the first episode of our new podcast from ACBA Board member and co-op leader Ryan Nill! You can hear the workshop as well as Q&A with Kavita in the link below and follow along with handouts Protecting Your Credit, Credit 101 & Myths, and Co-op Credit & Big Buys.

Please be sure to attend the next workshop, Participatory Bylaws and Cooperative Practice, from Scheel & Dioquino, on Wednesday, February 27th. And stay tuned for the next podcast covering this important topic.

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2019 Speaker Series Announcements

Exciting news!

As a result of recently received grant funding from the Cooperative Foundation, the Austin Cooperative Business Foundation (ACBF) is pleased to announce 9 cooperative-specific workshops for the upcoming year.

Building on the success of our 2018 Co-op Summer School, we’re offering a series of training sessions united around the theme “Commit to Co-ops.” Whether you’re a seasoned cooperator or interested in learning more about cooperatives, these workshops are for you. There is no cost to attend but we ask for a small Pay-What-You-Can donation ($5-15) to help fund our work.


Here is the full schedule, with more details on specific times and locations to come!

January - Back to Basics: Credit and Capital Purchasing for Cooperatives with Kavita Koppa
February - Participatory Bylaws: to Distributed Power and Equity with Kristin Scheel
March - Developing a Culture of Excellence with Beth Beutel
April - We Goin’ to Be All Right: Communicating in Co-ops with Kavita Koppa
May - Co-opensation, fairness, and compensation with Wavell Watson
July - Converting your Business to a Co-op with Don Jackson
September - Legal Considerations for Housing Cooperatives with Daniel Miller
October - Union Co-ops: Examples and Opportunities with Ryan Pollack
November - Cooperative staff evaluations: good for everyone! with Daniel Miller

The Cooperative Foundation is a steadfast supporter of Cooperative development, research, and education. For more than 60 years, vision and generosity has guided the work of the foundation and in turn benefited cooperative members and communities. Formed by cooperative leaders in 1945, The Cooperative Foundation received much of its financial assets through the vision and generosity of St. Paul architect Thomas Ellerbe Sr. and his family. That endowment and contributions from cooperative benefactors continues to support the work of the foundation. Through its mission to expand and enhance cooperatives through research, teaching, extension, innovation, and development, The Cooperative Foundation remains a vital part of the past and future of cooperation in the United States. For information about funding priorities and the competitive grant making process, visit the Foundation’s website:

Commit to Co-ops! Research Projects

Commit to Co-ops! Research Projects

The ACBF is looking for qualified researchers for two exciting projects investigating the impact and potential of the local cooperative economy. We are in search of qualified researchers for two projects investigating opportunities and resources for the local cooperative economy. These projects are part of our upcoming year-long educational programming series, Commit to Co-ops, which also offers educational workshops for local cooperators and cooperators in training.

Researchers may apply for one or both of the following research projects:

  1. Cooperative conversions:

    This research project will investigate the opportunities for conversions of traditionally managed local businesses in Central Texas into cooperatives (worker, consumer, purchasing or otherwise). The research will illuminate the potential economic impact of converting local businesses to cooperatives, as well as the best opportunities and techniques for doing so that are currently locally viable. Sectors of focus could include, but are not limited to, the food and agriculture industry, retail businesses, the service industry and restaurants, arts and culture businesses and organizations, construction, and professional services. The final result of the research project will present qualitative and quantitative evidence and analysis of the possible impact of cooperative business conversions for our region. Data should be presented in a visually engaging format, both for print and online, easy adaptable and useful for scholars, activists, and local policymakers.

  2. Technical assistance capacity building:

    This research project is an investigation into the existing gaps in technical assistance for those looking to start or improve their cooperatives here in Central Texas. The researcher(s) will 1) compile a guide of existing technical assistance resources, and 2)  identify specific ways and sectors in which local cooperative development assistance can be improved. The study should focus on local and Texas-level resources, including things like loan funds, software useful for cooperatives, and technical assistance consultants. It will also be more focused on figuring out the specific ways in which the Texas cooperative ecosystem should grow in order to foster the development of new cooperatives and the flourishing of already existing ones.

Final products

The final format of the research projects should be both print and digital. We highly encourage the use of interactive maps, data visualizations, and other easily shareable and visually engaging ways of presenting your robust quantitative and qualitative research on the topics identified above. All data sources must be cited and copyright or other permissions obtained.

The final products will be shared on the ACBF’s website and used by advocates, other researchers and policymakers in Austin, Central Texas and beyond. Summaries of the research will also be distributed to the local and national press and shared directly with the members of other organizations the ACBF is a part of.

Responsibilities of the researchers:

  • Perform and document research based on the research proposals that is logical, coherent, repeatable, and well-cited

  • Create engaging, well-designed, and digitally-distributable final products

  • Facilitate connections with local and national groups, as needed to conduct and deepen research findings, to aid ACBF’s networking and outreach efforts

What we’re looking for in a workshop designer/facilitator:

  • Passionate and knowledgeable about cooperatives and excited to help build the local cooperative economy

  • Experience with large-scale, in-depth independent (if applying independently) or team-based research projects (if applying as a team)

  • Background in small business development, cooperative economics and development, urban planning and policy, and graphic design or related skills is preferred but not required

  • Bilingual in Spanish/English (preferred, not a requirement)

Diversity Encouraged:

We aim to build a multi‐racial and class‐diverse organization that reflects the future of our member cooperatives. Women, people of color and others who may be underrepresented in non-profits, cooperative development, and cooperatives are strongly encouraged to apply.

Further details:

Researchers will be contracted by the ACBF for a total of $1500 per research project. Individuals or teams are encouraged to apply for one or both of the research project topics. You may apply as an individual or a small group to do a workshop; however, note that due to limited funding, the payment is per research project, not per person.

Research must be completed within six months of contract signing, and at the latest by September 2019 (whichever comes first).

Please submit your application here.

The deadline to submit proposals has been extended to January 31, 2019.

If you have questions, reach out to Carol Fraser, Grant Administrator, at

The Commit to Co-op Workshop Series and Research Projects are partially funded by the Cooperative Foundation. Austin Cooperative Business Foundation is supported by donations from people like you. Please consider a tax-deductible donation to the ACBF today.