Cooperative Leadership Certification

NASCO's Cooperative Leadership Certification is a personal development opportunity for those who are looking to gain the skills and perspectives needed for effective leadership that supports co-ops facing complex challenges.

  • Develop a new understanding of leadership from a cooperative lens

  • Gain proficiency in NASCO's four cooperative leadership core competencies
  • Receive peer feedback on challenges or obstacles in your cooperative community
  • Develop a close network of cooperative leaders across the US and Canada
  • Complete a final cooperative leadership project or initiative of your choice, with mentorship from NASCO staff


Center your leadership education around four core competencies:

  1. Cooperative Literacy
    Develop a thorough understanding of cooperative systems, policy basics, finances, meeting facilitation, and legal and reporting needs. 
  2. Creativity & Critical Thinking
    Learn lateral thinking, productive brainstorming techniques, root cause analysis, self-management, and adaptability. 
  3. Effective Communication
    Practice messaging for different stakeholder groups, public speaking, giving trainings and presentations, uplifting the voices of others through democratic process, advanced facilitation techniques, communication across cultures, active listening, and transparency. 
  4. Unlearning Anti-cooperative Leadership
    Shift learned ideas of unilateral leadership, the concentration of knowledge, and leadership vs authority. Practice receiving criticism, supporting future leaders, and challenging systems of oppression.

Black Equity Scholarships

Black equity scholarships are offered to offset the history of black inequity in housing cooperatives. Scholarships will cover the full program costs along with a $2500 stipend for each recipient. This year we have funding to offer 3 Black Equity Scholarships for participation in the 2023 leadership cohort. Scholarship applications will be included in application materials, opening October 24, 2022. 

Donate to the Black Equity Scholarship Fund Here


Info Sessions

The 2023 program info sessions have already passed, you can view a recording here to learn about NASCO's definition of cooperative leadership, the content of the program, concrete outcomes, and how to apply. You can also reach out to with any questions.


Second Round Application Timeline

Second round applications for the 2023 Cooperative Leadership Cohort are now open! Please note that the program timeline is shifting to align with the calendar year. Applicants will be selected by mid-January 2023 and the 2023 program will begin in late-January or early February depending on participant availability. 

Dec 30, 2022 |  Applications close

Jan 6, 2022 | Recommendations due  

Jan 3 - 6, 2022 | Interview window

Jan 13, 2022 | Applicants notified of acceptance

Late Jan or Early Feb | Leadership Cohort Orientation (held remotely)

Apply Now


Meet previous cohort members

Meet our Cooperative Leadership graduates from 2021 and 2022 here



What is cooperative leadership?

NASCO’s Definition of Cooperative Leadership:

Cooperative leadership is the act of engaging members in their cooperative organization while taking care to recognize the needs of their community. Any cooperator can practice leadership when they uplift the voices of fellow members and actively work to share power equitably.   Cooperative leadership must be inclusive to be successful, especially uplifting the voices of our marginalized leaders who are often unheard. 

A cooperative approach to leadership connects the human needs of members to a co-op’s mission and the day-to-day work needed to maintain strong organizations. Practicing cooperative leadership requires self-awareness, active listening, and gratitude when receiving criticism. Cooperative leadership is not a title or a position. Cooperative leadership is an activity that may be practiced by any member at any time, and no member can do so at all times.

What does the Cooperative Leadership Program include?

  • Introduction to NASCO cooperative leadership framework and goal setting among members of the leadership cohort
  • Invitations to participate in a dedicated online channel reserved for each leadership cohort
  • Monthly remote meetings with each leadership cohort including guided discussions and exercises led by NASCO staff (These will take place on weekends for 2-4 hours)
  • NASCO Staff mentorship and support through the completion of a cooperative project in your home co-op.
  • Participants’ choice of 10 workshops or webinars relating to NASCO’s Core Leadership Competencies, with sessions offered online between monthly cohort meetings as well as at NASCO’s existing conferences
  • Opportunity and support to lead workshops and education sessions at NASCO Institute, NASCO Student Leadership Conference, and NASCO Staff & Member Leadership Convening
  • Continued study reading list with online discussions meant to inform real-time meetings of the leadership cohort
  • Participation in Peer Consultation sessions with fellow leadership cohort members (The peer consultation process is an opportunity to solicit feedback from peers and practice the analytical and strategic thinking skills necessary for exercising leadership)

Who should apply?

Any individual currently involved in an already existing cooperative may apply. This program is designed to adapt the individual needs of each cohort member, both members and staff of varying levels of experience with cooperatives will find the experience rewarding. Additionally, the co-ops themselves will benefit from having engaged, supportive leadership skills at every level.  This program builds a stronger applicant pool for future co-op staff positions, locally elected officers with a richer understanding of sector-wide best practices, and a shared set of values for how co-op leadership can serve and grow our movement.

If you are working on starting a cooperative and not yet a member of an existing co-op you are not yet eligible for this program. Please see our Cooperative Development Services program for ways that we can support you, and we hope to see you join a future leadership cohort once your co-op is up and running.

How much does the program cost?

Program costs (includes registration costs for NASCO Institute):

NASCO Active Member rate: $1000

NASCO Associate or Individual Member rate: $1300

Non-member rate: $1750


Travel: Applicants may be required to travel to at least one NASCO Conference during the course of the program (this upcoming year, we expect that remote conference opportunities will be available). The expected travel costs are $300-$500 per event. We encourage applicants to seek sponsorship from their co-op to cover tuition and any necessary travel expenses. 


Black Equity Scholarships: We aim to offer 3 Black Equity Scholarshipsin 2023 to cover the full program costs along with a $2500 stipend for each recipient. Black equity scholarships will be offered to offset the history of black inequity in housing cooperatives. Black Equity Scholarship Recipients will also have travel covered if travel is required. Scholarship applications will be included in application materials, opening October 24, 2022. 


Ralph K. Morris Scholarships: If you are not eligible for the Black Equity Scholarship you may be able to get financial support to help cover the cost of the program through the Ralph K. Morris Foundation Cooperative Leadership Scholarship. Learn more and apply by visiting their website.

What are the requirements to participate in the program?

To participate in the Cooperative Leadership Program, you must:

  • Be involved in a housing co-op 

  • Have access to a computer or mobile device and internet 

  • Be able to attend at least one NASCO conference (either remotely or in-person)

  • Be able to commit an average of 10 hours per month  

  • Be willing to participate in building and enforcing standards for conduct among the cohort through a community agreement process