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What We Do

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 and research to a diverse range of communities.

Cooperative Development

Our team of cooperative development specialists is available to help you start a new co-op, strengthen an established co-op, or convert an existing business to the cooperative structure. If you are located in a rural area of Wisconsin, technical assistance may be covered by our USDA Rural Cooperative Development Grant.

Cooperative Start-Up

UWCC provides assistance to start-up co-ops in the following areas: organizational development, member surveys, community and stakeholder meetings, feasibility analysis and business plans, membership drives, capitalization strategies, development of bylaws and articles of incorporation, board training, and policy development. We also provide referrals to legal, accounting, and other professional service providers. Please see our cooperative start-up page for more information.

Support for Existing Cooperatives

Support to established cooperatives includes member training and education, strategic planning, meeting facilitation, board training, policy development, board and management evaluations, and referrals to appropriate legal, accounting, and other professional services.

Succession Planning and Cooperative Conversions

UWCC provides assistance to businesses looking to transition to the cooperative model.  Support includes transition planning and timeline development, management and governance succession planning, and referrals to appropriate legal, accounting, and other professional services. Please see our Cooperative Conversion page for more resources.

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Education and Training

We are passionate about bringing cooperators together to learn and inspire one another. UWCC develops regional workshops, national conferences, and tailored education for boards and visiting cooperative groups.

Farmer Cooperatives Conference

This two day event brings together top agricultural cooperative leaders to address today’s most pressing competitive challenges. Cooperative experts present their latest research and cooperative leaders leave with new strategies and techniques to improve their farmer-owned cooperatives. Learn more about the Farmer Cooperatives Conference.

Consumer Cooperative Management Association Conference

This national event brings together several hundred food cooperative board members, managers, and staff to address issues impacting the grocery co-op sector and to share ideas and inspiration. CCMA features retail grocery experts, local co-op tours, peer-led breakout sessions, and networking opportunities. Learn more about the Consumer Cooperative Management Association Conference.

Custom Board & Executive Training Programs

UWCC can design custom programs that address your cooperative’s current governance and strategy challenges, and help your board and management to lead your cooperative forward. UWCC also hosts international cooperative groups for education on the U.S. cooperative model and tours of local cooperatives.

Developing Future Cooperative Leadership

UWCC educates future cooperative leaders through campus courses and participation in the UniverCity Alliance, which connects Wisconsin municipalities to UW-Madison students to collaborate on finding practical solutions to community challenges. For more information, please see our Students page.


Cooperative Governance Survey

UW Center for Cooperatives is launching the first national, cross-sectoral study on cooperative governance practices. The Cooperative Governance Research Initiative will help cooperatives reflect on and improve their governance practices, in part by enhancing our ability to compare the governance practices of member- vs. investor-owned firms.

Collective Action in Rural Communities: Mapping Opportunities for Cooperative Conversion and Start-up

The goal of the project is to enhance opportunities for rural cooperative entrepreneurship by providing decision-­making tools and research-­based information to cooperative and economic developers, rural entrepreneurs, and policy makers. For more information please see our Research page.

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UWCC's Mission

The University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives seeks to increase understanding and encourage critical thinking about cooperatives by fostering scholarship and mutual learning among academics, the cooperative community, policy makers and the public.