Professional Certificate in Food Co-op Development

As leaders in promoting sustainable food systems, the University of Vermont and the Food Co-op Initiative organization have joined forces to create a comprehensive, online training program covering everything you need to know to successfully open a retail food co-op.

The certificate is led by Clem Nilan, a life-long educator and successful food co-op manager, and Stuart Reid, Executive Director of the Food Co-op Initiative. The program schedule is organized into weekly lessons with lectures, readings, engaging media, discussions, and relevant assignments. You will not only learn key skills for launching a co-op, but also develop a network of professionals essential to your future success through group discussions in an online forum that will enable meaningful dialogue with fellow students, Instructors, and guest experts.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand how to develop your vision, systems, talent, and capital as core principles for starting your co-op
  • Learn methods for raising capital
  • Discover how to install a successful resourcing model encompassing community members, staff, and your management team
  • Acquire key skills from the experts: Learn legal and accounting structures, feasibility studies, financial planning, real estate considerations, and how to build your co-op from the ground up
  • Be introduced to the resources, support, and cooperative organizations needed for startup food co-ops to thrive
  • Complete a valuable final project to apply the skills learned during the certificate and to help you on your way to starting your own co-op