Second Round of D.C. Co-op Impact Grant Supports Region’s Cooperatives
Grants support the growth of four existing and emerging cooperative businesses led by underserved entrepreneurs
Washington, D.C./Arlington, VA (June 8, 2021) – The Washington Area Community Investment Fund (Wacif) and Capital Impact Partners today announced $40,000 in grant awards to four existing and emerging cooperatively owned businesses operated by people of color and/or workers living with low wages through the D.C. Co-op Impact Grant. In its second year, the grant advances community development by encouraging the growth of quality jobs, sustainable businesses, leadership development, and asset building through an equitable cooperative model.
“In its first year, the D.C. Co-op Impact Grant awarded $40,000 to seven local cooperatives in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, and helped these businesses pivot, survive, and even thrive during a time of tremendous uncertainty,” said Jennifer Bryant, Wacif Program Manager for Community Wealth Building Initiatives. “This year, as we chart a path to a new normal, the D.C. Co-op Impact Grant mobilizes 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. The D.C. Co-op Impact Grant’s support of cooperatively owned businesses led by members of historically disinvested communities accelerates this reality by providing catalytic capital to attract funders, increasing exposure of D.C.-area cooperatives, and delivering loan-readiness support for early-stage cooperatives.
“The co-ops supported by the D.C. Co-op Impact Grant fill gaps in their communities, create quality jobs that build economic mobility and assets, provide vital community services like healthy food and home care, and help workers to access the mainstream economy,” said Alison Powers, Cooperative & Community Initiatives Manager at Capital Impact Partners. “As we see an explosion of regional interest in the co-op model, this grant demonstrates that funding can be a catalyst for the local co-op ecosystem.”
The recipients of the D.C. Co-op Impact Grant range from a start-up, worker-owned grocery store in Ward 7 to a collective advocating for the rights of D.C.’s street and sidewalk entrepreneurs. Learn more about the four cooperatives and their visions below:
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) 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 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 opportunities to marginalized and underserved communities. Funds will support cooperative business infrastructure, planning, and operations.
About the Washington Area Community Investment Fund
The Washington Area Community Investment Fund, Inc. (Wacif) is one of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan’s area’s leading Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) focused on small business development. Wacif’s mission is to increase equity and economic opportunity in underserved communities in the Washington, D.C. area by investing knowledge, social, and financial capital in low-and-moderate-income entrepreneurs. To learn more about Wacif’s mission, visit www.wacif.org.
About Capital Impact Partners
Through capital and commitment, Capital Impact Partners helps people build communities of opportunity that break barriers to success. Through mission-driven financing, social innovation programs, capacity building, and impact investing, we work to champion key issues of equity and social and economic justice. Our commitment to community focuses on ensuring that individuals with low-to-moderate incomes have access to quality health care and education, healthy foods, affordable housing, and the ability to age with dignity.
A nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution, Capital Impact has disbursed more than $2.5 billion since 1982 to ensure that individuals with low-to-moderate incomes have access to quality health care and education, healthy foods, affordable housing, and the ability to age with dignity. Our leadership in delivering financial and social impact has resulted in Capital Impact being rated by S&P Global and recognized by Aeris for our performance. Headquartered in Arlington, VA, Capital Impact Partners operates nationally, with local offices in Detroit, MI, New York, NY, and Oakland, CA. Learn more at www.capitalimpact.org.