TESA Works with Pinchot University to Create Cooperative Business Curriculum

TESA worked with the Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship (CIE) at Pinchot University to adapt and build their existing business curriculum to a worker-cooperative business curriculum. This partnership lead to the creation of an extensive worker co-op start-up program, with sessions focused on a range of topics from “Cooperative Culture” to “Membership, Structure, and Governance.”

Challenges faced

In 2014, CIE got in touch with TESA with the hope that TESA could assist in developing, adapting, and building their new worker-cooperative business start-up program. This project included building their “Introduction to Worker Cooperatives” opening session, customizing and adapting the “Worker Cooperative First Step” introductory phase of the program, as well as helping to build out the modules for their 8-session “Worker-Cooperative Academy.” These goals were an exciting proposal to TESA, and we were excited to be involved in all parts of the program: from recruitment to graduation. Furthermore, given that CIE is a university program, we knew we’d be building a program with longevity.

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How TESA helped

This was a really exciting project to work on, as it posed new challenges and content areas for us to engage with. For example, TESA was tasked with helping to convert an existing business curriculum that was built for individual entrepreneurs into one suitable for cooperative businesses. Furthermore, adapting this type of curriculum allowed us to build our knowledge of “standard” business practices and how those can be converted to cooperative ones, both in terms of curriculum design and actual day-to-day practices. Given the emerging trend for workplace transitions into cooperatives, this was a great skill for us to work on. Another exciting element of this project was that we would be working with a University program, and all stages of the curriculum from intake to completion. This multi-stage process allowed us to get a view into the entire program, and in turn, allowed us to have a greater role in shaping the the focus and outcomes of the CIE’s efforts. Using our multi-draft consultation process, where we do visioning, goal setting, curriculum building, and review with our partners, we were able to create a strong and robust curriculum with members of the CIE team. Through this dialogue centered process, we were able to get a great idea for CIE’s overall vision and develop a solid working relationship with their team.

What would you say to others about TESA?

Pinchot University’s Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship hired TESA to tailor our existing business education curriculum to serve cooperatively owned businesses and to create lessons for our new Cooperative Academy. TESA created engaging lessons with easy to follow lesson plans, and really understood the goals of our program. [TESA] made the process of making lessons and teaching them smooth and fun. I appreciated that [TESA’s staff] were reliable, enthusiastic, great listeners, and very creative. The lessons they created are interactive and build progressively – our students really engage with the content and leave better connected to the ideas and each other. I would recommend TESA to anybody developing engaging, interactive co-op training materials.

-Mieka Briejer of the Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship at Pinchot University

A note from TESA

It was so excellent to work with the folks at CIE. We are really thankful that they gave us the opportunity to work on our 5th cooperative academy. What’s more, we really meshed as a team, which allowed us all to build our skills and knowledge, and in turn, created a really strong, well rounded and effective curriculum.

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