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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

Using Cooperatives to Empower Formerly Incarcerated People

Can cooperatives, based on the values of democracy, equity, and “one person, one vote,” offer sustainable solutions for people navigating reentry in the United States? Collective REMAKE, a hybrid cooperative nonprofit in Los Angeles County, is working to do just that, along with a broad stakeholder network.

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Worker-owned businesses and other kinds of cooperatives can ignite a local economy in communities that have been economically disenfranchised and suffer from over-policing and high rates of incarceration. Cooperatives offer a democratic business structure and embedded community, a viable opportunity for individuals who are otherwise discriminated against in the job market because they have a criminal record.

As Thomas Porter-Smith, a board member with lived experience in the California prison system, explains, “Cooperatives offer an accepting environment, where people just getting out can get grounded, build a social network, and at the same time, learn to stand on their own two feet; and they are able to work for the benefit of their loved ones and their community.”

Read the rest at Nonprofit Quarterly

 

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