About Us

About Us

Co-op leaders have called on members to reengage with the businesses we own. Here we are.

Co-op members across the nation are waking up to their role as owners

Our Mission

Catalyzing citizen action for democracy, participation, and excellence in cooperatives, through member education and organizing. Our vision is an economy that works for all of us, with many democratically-owned businesses working to build civic leadership and local assets, equity, economic security, and long-term sustainability.

In 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014, leaders of the international cooperative movement and national cooperative business sectors called for a fundamental shift in how co-ops engage with their member-owners, and vice versa.

Whether to ensure that the co-op will still be in business in the face of changing markets, or to ensure that the co-op is well-run and serving the needs of its members and community, or to make cooperatives the preferred business model by the end of the Cooperative Decade, or to bring cooperatives into the movement for a just transition to a New Economy, the prescription is the same.

Members must rediscover their role as owners of a democratically-controlled enterprise.

Why We Founded We Own It
We Own It: the national network for cooperative member rights, education, and organizing was founded in 2015 to serve an unfilled need for a national association that represents co-op member-owners, rather than a trade association of cooperative businesses. We aim to bring the 130 million members of co-ops into the movement to build a cooperative economy, and to help both member-owners and their co-ops navigate the necessary transition in how they engage with each other.
Our History
We founded We Own It in 2015 to bring member-owners back into their democratically-owned cooperatives; and bring democratic organizing -- the lost art of cooperative business and the thing that made co-ops great -- back into our co-ops. Through this work, our co-ops will renew their commitment to the international cooperative principles and values and to their rightful vocation as leaders in the "just transition" movement for an equitable, sustainable, and cooperative economy.

We began our work in 2016 in the rural electric cooperative sector, where the need for member-owner reengagement and power-building was the most urgent.

Most of the stories on this website are about electric co-op member-owners organizing to take back their  co-op in the wake of corruption, greed, embezzlement, and/or negligence by its leadership coming to light.  The story of Choctaw Electric member-owners in Oklahoma is exemplary of this struggle.  While much work remains, there are now promising signs that the sector is beginning to change.  We Own It is proud to stand with reformers among the member-ownership, staff, CEOs, and directors of this important part of America's energy sector and of our cooperative economy as they lead their colleagues and co-owners in a new direction.

Our signature program is our Fellowship, a nine-month intensive leadership development and organizing training program designed to support co-op member-owners lead campaigns for reform and renewal at their co-ops.

We Own It's Fellowship Program

Since COVID-19 struck, We Own It's work has shifted to urgently remind co-ops of their founding in the midst of the last Great Depression and to stand with member-owners to call their co-ops to rise to this challenge.  Our current campaign is to call on America's 5,000 credit unions, which have amassed a $56 billion excess reserve of member-owned capital, to use it to back $100 billion in emergency loans to keep people in their homes and keep our communities afloat while we wait for a more functional government. 

Read about the people who lead We Own It.