The Workers to Owners Collaborative

Workers to Owners is a national collaborative of organizations working to transition small businesses to worker- and employee-ownership.  Members share tools, practices, and innovations, aggregate data, broadcast a shared message in media and public presentations, and engage with companies, places, and governments. The Democracy at Work Institute acts as a backbone organization for the collaborative, with a goal to expand the volume, impacts, and accessibility of conversions across the country. To do this DAWI works to:

  • Ensure there is meaningful dialogue and skill sharing among conversion practitioners that leads to innovation and scale
  • Ensure there is access to conversions support that reaches workers who can be most positively impacted
  • Ensure there are metrics and best practices so that the success of the field can be measured

Core members

General members

Capital Impact Partners

Capital Impact Partners is a national Community Development Financial Institution that invests capital and commitment to help people and communities break the barriers to success. As part of its larger mission-driven efforts, Capital Impact supports the cooperative model as a tool to disrupt income inequality, steward community ownership, and empower workers who have been locked out of the mainstream economy. Over the years, CIP has disbursed over $305 million in loans to over 220 food, worker, and housing cooperatives across the country. Capital Impact Partners was one of the initial funders to support the creation of the W20 collaborative through our annual Co-op Innovation Award and continues to support the ecosystem through grant funding and financing.

Center for Community Based Enterprise

Since 2007, C2BE has been working to strengthen businesses, including those owned by members of historically under-served communities and those seeking conversion to employee ownership. Our vision is an inclusive new economy in Detroit anchored by a supportive network of worker-owned businesses. C2BE’s mission is to build a sustainable, more equitable and inclusive living-wage local economy, by developing a cooperating network of worker-owned businesses and increasing the number of worker owners.

Co-op Cincy

Co-op Cincy is a non-profit business incubator, building a network of worker-owned businesses. Since 2011, we have worked with groups of entrepreneurs, organizations, communities and retiring business owners to create and sustain worker- and community-owned cooperative businesses. We strive to create an economy that works for everyone — that supports family-sustaining jobs, provides business ownership opportunities for underserved and marginalized people, and is accountable to the communities that drive it. Our work is inspired by Mondragon, the largest and most successful cooperative network in the world. By bringing Mondragon’s resilient model to the SW Ohio region, we are developing an integrated network of cooperative businesses to grow the economy and develop community wealth from the ground up, drawing on community members’ untapped potential.

Cooperative Development Institute

Cooperative Development Institute (CDI) is the source for cooperative development in the Northeast. CDI is a regional 501(c)3 non-profit founded in 1994 by co-op leaders in the Northeast. Cooperative Development Institute’s mission is to build a cooperative economy through the creation and development of successful cooperative enterprises. We are transforming ownership of our economy, so all people can meet their basic needs.

Democracy at Work Institute

The Democracy at Work Institute advances the worker cooperative field in order to create a fairer economy and better jobs. As a think-and-do-tank, the Institute brings on-the-ground experience with cooperative business to a birds-eye view of the national stage. We develop standards and leaders, gather models and best practices, coordinate existing resources, and advocate for worker cooperatives as a community economic development strategy. The Institute was created by the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives (USFWC) to expand worker ownership in a movement that is adequately supported, effective, and strategically directed. Our work ensures that our growth is rooted in worker cooperatives themselves at the same time as it reaches new communities most directly affected by inequality.

The ICA Group

The ICA Group is a leading expert on worker ownership and the oldest national organization dedicated to the development of worker cooperatives.We are a mission-driven nonprofit organized as a worker cooperative and are dedicated to bringing strategic analysis and industry-focused supports to the worker ownership sector. Our business expertise is bolstered by a deep understanding of worker ownership and other worker-centered structures and a commitment to serving low-wage workers and communities of color. Since 1977, ICA has launched dozens of worker-owned cooperatives and social enterprises, helped dozens of companies convert to worker ownership, and created and preserved over 10,000 jobs.

Nexus Community Partners

Nexus Community Partners, based in St. Paul, MN, works to advance equitable and just communities in which all residents are engaged, recognized as leaders and have multiple pathways to opportunity. By supporting business conversions to worker-ownership, Nexus aims to ensure communities of color have mechanisms to own the wealth their labor has helped to create. As an intermediary, Nexus supports cooperative ecosystems to leverage the resources of public, private, philanthropic and nonprofit partners.

Northwest Cooperative Development Center

NWCDC fosters community economic development in Pacific Northwest primarily through the cooperative business model. NWCDC is a full service agency providing support in a number of co-op sectors (housing, consumer, producer, and worker). This allows us to transfer innovate practices in one sector to another. NWCDC has a seasoned staff of co-op development specialists able to assist owners and employees with conversion to an employee-owned business and provide continuing support after the transition.

Pennsylvania Center for Employee Ownership

The Pennsylvania Center for Employee Ownership (PaCEO) promotes better understanding of the values of employee ownership among business leaders, public officials, employees, members of the media, students, teachers, nonprofit leaders, consumers, and other persons and organizations in Pennsylvania. The PaCEO has a single focus – to assist businesses in the State of Pennsylvania in understanding employee ownership and its benefits. We lend guidance by educating interested parties and by supplying a listing of subject matter experts who have become known to us through their expertise and working support of our organization, and who have demonstrated extensive experience in working with ESOP clients.

Project Equity

Project Equity is a national leader in the movement to harness employee ownership to maintain thriving local business communities, honor selling owners’ legacies, and address income and wealth inequality. Headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area, Project Equity works with partners around the country to raise awareness about employee ownership as an exit strategy for business owners, and as an important approach for increasing employee engagement and wellbeing. We also provide hands on consulting and support to companies that want to transition to employee ownership, as well as to the new employee-owners to ensure that they, and their businesses, thrive after the transition.

Shared Capital Cooperative

Shared Capital Cooperative is a national CDFI loan fund that connects co-ops and capital to build economic democracy. Working with capital invested by the cooperative sector and its allies, we provide financing for the expansion and startup of cooperatively-owned businesses and housing throughout the United States. We are a cooperative ourselves with over 250 members nation-wide in 35 states who are aligning their needs and goals with each other and their co-operative lender. We understand cooperative capital needs and have supported member-led co-op structures with more than $52 million in loans to cooperatives since 1978.

U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives

The United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives (USFWC) is the national grassroots membership organization for worker cooperatives. Our mission is to build a thriving cooperative movement of stable, empowering jobs through worker-ownership. We advance worker-owned, -managed, and -governed workplaces through cooperative education, advocacy and development. Our Federation represents nearly 200 business and organizational members representing 6,000 workers across the country. We organize through local cooperative networks while building power with national and international partners to advance an agenda for economic justice rooted in community-based, shared ownership.

Adirondack North Country Association

ANCA is an independent, nonprofit corporation with a transformational approach to building prosperity across northern New York. ANCA’s community-informed, results-driven strategies for local food producers, small business owners, would-be entrepreneurs, and municipal innovators offer targeted interventions that are designed to keep wealth and value in local communities. ANCA’s model is distinguished by its community-based approach that relies on identifying barriers and needs through boots-on-the-ground relationships and networks, finding the resources to address those needs, developing and implementing solutions, measuring results and course correcting as we scale up programs. Our role in policy making is a critical element of our success; we give voice to the unique challenges facing our region and the strategies that work in rural places, informing policy decisions that support our goals.

Carolina Common Enterprise

Community wealth building in the Carolinas through cooperative development, education & training.

Cooperative Development Services

Cooperative Development Services is a 35 year old nonprofit with substantial experience in startup and growth of consumer and producer owned cooperatives. Since 2018, we have nurtured an eco-system of co-op finance, education and technical assistance partners to support conversion of small businesses to employee ownership via worker-owned cooperatives. We particularly seek to work in MN, WI and IA. Our objectives are to support individual conversions, create opportunities for mutual support in the region, and to influence state policies to support worker ownership.

Cooperation Buffalo

Cooperation Buffalo is a community-led resource center, a team of cooperative business developers and educators, and a community-controlled non-extractive loan fund. We mobilize workers to achieve economic security through cooperative business ownership, generating wealth and power in communities most affected by inequality.

North Carolina Employee Ownership Center

The North Carolina Employee Ownership Center (NCEOC) serves as the central hub for employee-owned businesses in North Carolina. Its primary mission is to educate business owners and their advisors (lawyers, bankers, accountants, wealth advisors) on the benefits of employee ownership via Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs), worker cooperatives, and Employee Ownership Trusts (EOTs). Exiting via employee ownership can provide a selling shareholder with excellent tax benefits while preserving their legacy, local jobs, and community impacts. The NCEOC provides resources, case studies and articles, and a list of service providers who can assist with employee ownership transitions. NCEOC serves the entire state of North Carolina, with a particular focus on outreach to minority-owned businesses.

Ohio Employee Ownership Center

The Ohio Employee Ownership Center, a non-profit outreach center of Kent State University, supports the development of business across Ohio and around the world by its efforts that are proven to save jobs, create wealth, and grow the economy. The OEOC’s work rests on a simple philosophy: broader ownership of productive assets is a good thing for employees, communities, and our country.

Rocky Mountain Employee Ownership Center

The Rocky Mountain Employee Ownership Center (RMEOC) is an independent, non-profit organization that works to advance employee ownership across the state of Colorado, through outreach, education, policy advocacy, and technical assistance to businesses seeking to become employee owned.

Southeast Center for Cooperative Development

The Southeast Center is a newly formed non-profit with the mission to increase economic opportunities and benefits by creating and strengthening cooperative businesses and networks that grow an equitable economy. We give priority to developing the power and capacity of low-income, minority, and/or underserved areas of Metro Nashville, Tennessee, and beyond. Our goal is to increase economic opportunities for people who have been left out of entrepreneurship through employee-ownership in the Southeast. We also offer technical assistance and education to businesses considering converting to employee-ownership.

The Industrial Commons

The Industrial Commons founds and grows interconnected enterprises that solve industrial problems for businesses and workers and manufactures hope for the people of Western North Carolina.

Sustainable Economies Law Center

We provide legal services, educational resources, and policy advocacy to support conversion of conventional businesses to worker cooperatives. We are located in the Bay Area and licensed to practice law in California, so our primary focus for our services are local; however, our legal guides and template documents are being used around the country. We co-produced and published a Legal Guide for Cooperative Conversions, maintain an online cooperative law resource (, provide regular workshops on the benefits and mechanics of conversion, and have supported a few clients with the legal aspects of their conversions. We also helped pass the first Worker Cooperative Corporation law in the state, and are advancing city policies supporting cooperatives and coop conversions in the Bay Area.

University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives

The University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives (UWCC) is a trusted and unbiased voice on the cooperative business model serving the needs of cooperatives in Wisconsin and beyond. With a strong public service orientation and access to world-class university resources, we leverage research, education, and outreach capabilities to foster critical thinking and understanding about cooperatives. As the only U.S. university-based center that studies and supports all forms of cooperative business, UWCC provides valued education, research, and business development support to a diverse range of communities.

Vermont Employee Ownership Center

Founded in 2001, the Vermont Employee Ownership Center is a statewide non-profit whose mission is to promote and foster employee ownership in order to broaden capital ownership, deepen employee participation, retain jobs, increase living standards for working families, and stabilize communities. We provide information and resources to owners interested in selling their business to their employees, employee groups interested in purchasing a business, and entrepreneurs who wish to start up a company with broadly shared ownership.