Immigrant-Run Worker Co-op Program Wins ‘Innovative’ Award

The Center for Family Life, whose latest co-op launch is a soccer classes clinic, was recognized with the NYC Innovative Nonprofit Award this week. (Photo via the Center for Family Life)

A Brooklyn non-profit that helps develop worker-run cooperatives to help immigrants build their own small businesses is one of two groups recognized last week at the first-ever NYC Innovative Nonprofit Awards, designed to identify new ideas to reduce poverty.

The Center for Family Life in Sunset Park earned second place and $10,000, Mayor Bloomberg announced on May 22.

These awards “are a wonderful way to highlight the brilliant work happening in our communities by nonprofit organizations,” said Commissioner Fatima Shama of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs in a press release. “I’m delighted that Center for Family Life’s Cooperative Development Project has been recognized for energizing and growing the immigrant entrepreneurial spirit through their cooperative project.”

The $20,000 first place was awarded to Green City Force’s Clean Energy Corps, a program that helps young New York City Housing Authority residents find employment or go to college.

The prize is funded by Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and awarded by the NYC Center for Economic Opportunity, a city program that supports new and more effective approaches to reducing poverty.

“These organizations have proven records of improving lives in their communities, helping set New Yorkers on a path toward greater economic mobility,” Bloomberg said.

The Center for Family Life, a program of the SCO Family of Services, has sponsored and developed half a dozen worker-owned co-ops since 2006, three of which have become successful enterprises. Their newest cooperative is a soccer co-op which hopes to provide soccer training lessons, said SCO spokeswoman Sharman Stein.

A cleaning co-op project called “¡Sí se puede!” (We Can Do It!) earned total revenues of $958,726 in 2012, with the average member earning over $22 per hour, according to the press release from the Office of the Mayor.

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