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Cooperative Member / Board Training

Section 1: Cooperatives, Just the Basics


A History of Cooperatives

Duration: 1 hour

Topics: The early history of cooperatives including a discussion of English manufacturing and agricultural cooperatives, leading to an introduction of the Cooperative Principles and a discussion of how those same principles help produce a better housing product for its participants than renting.



Why Housing Cooperatives Work for Members

Duration: 1.5 hours

Topics: An introduction to and discuss of the idea that a housing cooperative should be a business, run by its membership, dedicated to providing affordable housing, and other benefits to those same members. An Introduction to the players both inside and outside of the housing cooperative structure. A brief comparison of how housing cooperatives compare with other housing vehicles; specifically in the context of tax benefits, equity appreciation, governance, community input, initial affordability and maintenance expectations.


Housing Cooperative Governance, papers and people
Part 1 of 2
Papers (organizing structures)

Duration: 1 hour

Topics: The content and arrangement of the legal documents and organizing structures that form a typical housing cooperative including articles of incorporation, bylaws, house rules, occupancy agreements, and subscription agreements.



Part 2 of 2
People (and their formal roles)

Duration: 1.5 hours

Topics: The roles and responsibilities of Directors and Officers, as well as other players (committees and floor captains) in effective cooperative governance decision making. Also covered will be the traditional formal and informal tasks of each officer, as well as the whole board of directors leading to a discussions of fiduciary duties (loyalty, care, and summarized versions of the standards of review; business judgment and reasonableness standard.



Outreach to Community at large

Duration: 1.5 hours

Topics: A discussion of the roll the larger community outside the cooperative can play in the cooperative’s operations. Specifically this class would cover how cooperators can keep track of, and effect the policy making of community and government organizations like ANC commissions, zoning boards, DCRA etc.  Also covered would be strategies cooperators can use to access the resources of nonprofits –training programs, filling vacancies, vendor lists- to further their mission.



Section 2: Community Matters


Community Matters Doesn’t it?

Duration: 1 hour

Topics: Strategies cooperators can use to establish a healthy membership community where one does not exist.  The potential upsides of a healthy membership community and potential downsides of a dysfunctional membership community.  Also covered will be the methods for maintaining a healthy community once one is established.



Who does what and why?

Duration: 2 hours

Topics: An examination of how assigning responsibly and shaping member maintenance expectations can effect cooperative operations. A comparison of how defferent models affect the distribution of member’s rights and responsibilities.  An analysis of three key aspects of cooperative living:
1. cooperative members maintenance expectations,
2. collective vs individual costs, and
3. individual members ability to pay.



Section 3: Ownership Identity vs. Renter’s Mentality


Part 1 of 4
What’s the problem? What’s the solution?

Duration: 1 hour

Topics: An examination of how a cooperative’s failure to engage as an owner can damage a cooperative and what can be done to prevent it. Special attention will be paid to the warning signs and causes of this phenomena, specifically : high board turn over, a disinterested membership, leadership inconsistency, the setting of unrealistic expectations.



Part 2 of 4
Engaging membership

Duration: 1 hour

Topics: Strategies for engaging membership. The role quality communication can play in establishing a culture of ownership. This class will focus on committees, newsletters, open door meetings, floor captains, financial reports and other communication vehicles. Also explored will be the value of self promotion within the cooperative.



Part 3 of 4
Performance and Consistency

Duration: 1 hour

Topics: Participants will leanr how transperancy and operational accountability help cooperators feel better connected to the cooperative and build an ownership identity. Class will focus on how housing cooperatives, like any business serving a community or customer base, must set expectation for itself in the eyes of its consumers and then meet them or hold itself accountable.



Part 4 of 4
Education /Open class –Topical-

Duration: 1 hour

Topics: The discussion will focus on how board turn over, changing technology and new governance/management techniques create the constant need for leadership education.



Section 4: Operations –Organizational, Fiscal and Physical


4.1 Organizational (5 key habits)
Part 1 of 4
Habit 1 and 2 Setting Clear Missions Statements and Goals

Duration: 1 hour

Topics: The roll of mission statements, long term goals and incremental goals in the operation of a healthy cooperative. How to tell the difference between the three and the process for setting them effectively. Also discussed will be the key role the 3 benchmarks play in prioritizing and contextualizing cooperative activities and policies.



Part 2 of 4
Habit 3 Running Good Meetings

Duration: 1 hour

Topics: How to run a good meeting. The techniques necessary to schedule, communicate, and execute a good meeting. Specifics will include notes on length, structure, and agenda, with a particular focus on having each meeting relate back to one of the cooperative goals, and produce actionable outcomes at its conclusion.



Part 3 of 4
Habit 4 Managing Information Flow

Duration: 1 hours

Topics: Strategies cooperatives can use to make sure they get the information they need to make high quality decisions and save time making them.  Participants will learn what is high value information and techniques for gathering it from service providers -management, legal and consultants-, vendors -contractors, etc, and from fellow cooperators



Part 4 of 4
Habit 5 Lead Change

Duration: 1 hour

Topics: Participants will explore the value of strategic thinking in cooperative management, as well as a few simple techniques to implement it effectively.  Specifically covered will be the need for any organization to stay one step ahead of the problems, to anticipate needs and challenges before they occur. 



4.2 Physical Fitness Management

Duration: 1.5 hours

Topics: The role of management of a management company. Setting expectations and judging performance. What management can and can’t do effectively. How to choose and monitor a management company. How to fire management.



Self Care, What needs be done

Duration: 1.5 hours

Topics: The mechanical/physical needs of a building and its subsystems. Special focus will be paid to include unit inspections, repair records keeping, wear and tear schedules, and understanding the difference between preventative maintenance vs. demand maintenance.



4.3 Fiscal Fitness Monthly Reports and Financials

Duration: 1.5 hours

Topics: How to read and understand a monthly financial statement from a management company and easily verify its accuracy. Covered specifically will be a listing of expectations for the statement, and what it should communicate.



Annual Reports Returns and Financials

Duration: 1 hour

Topics: A review of the other annual financial documents –annual budgets, tax returns, annual audited financials- common to housing cooperatives and the role the play in helping cooperators understand their cooperative’s financial situation.



Record Keeping

Duration: 1 hour

Topics: A discussion of the critical roll quality record keeping plays in healthy cooperative management. Class will include a technical demonstration of at least one record keeping system.