During 2014, the Youth Traveling Cooperative Institute stopped in sixteen towns throughout the Upper Midwest (the Upper Peninsula, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota) and directly trained 42 individuals in the first part of a two part cooperative development education program. In January through March of 2015, the Youth TCI will return to the UP, WI, and MN to deliver the second round of cooperative development trainings.
Through the initial round of trainings and outreach work, Youth TCI has already connected with several potential cooperative development projects that were not yet connected to or had been deemed “not yet ready” to formally connect with a cooperative development center or professional. The four potential projects that seem the most promising include a sole proprietor coffee shop to be converted to a worker-owned cooperative (most current workers are youth), a youth-owned diversified farming operation cooperative, a youth-led compost worker-cooperative, and a potential housing cooperative for youth rock climbers.
The curriculum created for this program was completed at the end of 2014 and will be turned into a book by the Design Action Collective during February of 2015. The entire concert of programming within the curriculum is structured so it can be used in a number of formats: college semester class, weekly study group, multi-day retreat, or the seasonal training schedule used during the first year of Youth TCI. Additionally, the finished curriculum book serves as a programming menu – organizations hosting Youth TCI can select one or more of six separate workshops.
Outreach was an anticipated, but no less significant, challenge to Youth TCI in its first iteration. Outreach into communities in which the trainer had no pre-existing relationships or connections was a struggle. During this first year, a number of different outreach methods were used to assess what worked – ultimately, those trainings hosted by a local organization with an already existing constituency proved to both yield the highest attendance numbers and require very little promotion or outreach work to be done by the trainer. Moving into 2015, Youth TCI will rely more on host organization for outreach and promotion.