On the face of it, Herrera is a typical struggling immigrant, a 34-year-old nanny who emigrated from Mexico when she was very young, with few resources. But what could be a standard-issue sorry tale—a caregiver with a precarious job; a parent who must leave her own child to take care of other people’s—is actually cheerier. Herrera is part of a caregiving co-op in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, called the Beyond Care Cooperative, which the members run themselves. Beyond Care is composed of about 45 workers who are also "owners," as well as several hundred active clients, ranging from the politically sympathetic to those who simply need a good nanny. Members advertise their services together and pay co-op dues. Beyond Care is supported by the Cooperative Development Program at the Center for Family Life (CFL), which also develops cooperatives like Si Se Puede! Women’s Cleaning Cooperative, a co-op that has become a local symbol of worker empowerment.
But what is novel about CFL is not that it supports co-ops for poorly paid workers in a large American city. It’s that CFL, together with the Robin Hood Foundation, is creating a new online platform to help co-ops compete in the app era. The hope is that co-ops can provide a socially responsible challenge to the ruthless companies of the sharing economy.
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