Co-op Financing in 2018!

Loan Fund

Kristen and Andres pictured above at The Working World’s annual financial cooperative peer loan fund retreat.

Kristen and Andres pictured above at The Working World’s annual financial cooperative peer loan fund retreat.

In 2017, CUCI became a member of The Working World’s Financial Cooperative, to create a local loan fund to capitalize our co-ops utilizing non-extractive finance principles including no repayment on the loans until our co-ops are profitable. Tapping into national dollars, CUCI’s Loan Fund gave its first loan to Sustainergy for expansion into new product lines at the end of 2017. This year, thanks to a generous contribution from Christ Church Cathedral, we raised $50,000 to capitalize the local fund and approved loans for three Our Harvest Co-op (OHC) worker-owners to buy their cooperative membership shares.

Apple Street Market in 2018!


Apple Street is thrilled that NEST, Northside’s community development corporation, purchased the future home of Apple Street Market in November of 2018 with dollars made possible by the City of Cincinnati’s CDBG funds. This building will be a long-term community asset. While the transfer of the property has taken longer than expected, it paves the way for construction to begin on the worker-and community-owned grocery that will come to life in a food desert. Fundraising for working capital can now begin in earnest.

Worker Owner Testamonial: Zeke's Story


My name is Zeke Coleman, and I am proud to be a worker-owner with Our Harvest Cooperative. Working at one of CUCI’s co-ops has made a huge difference in my life. Before I came to Our Harvest, I worked for five years in a local food-processing plant. Even though I trained in new workers, they would be the ones promoted, instead of me. The company started using reduction techniques with the people of color, which meant that the company made work terrible for us. 

Since joining Our Harvest, I am no longer stressed at work or discriminated against as a Black man. In fact, it’s the opposite. At OHC, I was just promoted to the Food Hub Coordinator position after 5 years within the packing, delivery, and sales operations there. The opportunities to learn new skills and receive training in a variety of jobs within the co-op prepared me to step up into the coordinator role. 

CUCI has helped us create our own family-sustaining jobs and learn important skills, like understanding the finances of our business and how to analyze key elements of our operations. They have also helped us create a culture of real, deep respect and cooperation. I feel so good about the people I work with.  

Our Childcare Work in 2018

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This year CUCI dove into child care co-op organizing! With partners Cincinnati Federation of Teachers and the Amos Project, we formed the People for Early Child (P4EC) coalition. P4EC brings together parents, educators, and early childhood business owners and directors to advocate for more equitable early childhood system. CUCI is working to bring two co-ops to life in this sector, which relies predominantly on women of color:

CareShare: a worker-owned cooperative child care business that uses innovative web-based matchmaking (designed by TechSolidarity out of Silicon Valley) to bring together parents and teachers to care for up to five children in a family home. Care Share provides personalized early education for more children, and ensures teachers are paid at least $15/hour with benefits.

Shared Services: brings together owners and directors of existing child care businesses in a cooperative to share best practices, and strengthen their businesses through access to substitute teachers, and increased buying power for insurance, food and supplies. 

We ended the year showcasing the growing capacity of our organization and knowledge of the sector by publishing a 170-page report, Strategies Towards Wage Equity in Early Childhood, for Cincinnati Preschool Promise.

2018 Annual Report Release!

Some might ask, how can we remain hopeful when so many of us are coping with housing instability, rising wealth inequality, and the day-to-day impacts of oppression?  While this continued legacy of injustice disturbs us greatly, we gain energy by working in solidarity with local people and organizations committed to building wealth from the ground up.

More concretely, across our family of cooperative businesses, diverse groups of people have joined forces to build and grow businesses owned and democratically managed by the workers and the community. Throughout each co-op’s growth, CUCI accompanies the community and  workers in all stages of developing their business and co-op culture. This includes meeting with all of our cooperatives on a weekly basis, facilitating access to non-extractive financing, accelerating their development through Co-op U, and more. 

At a glance, our efforts may seem small, but together we are strong. It takes social movements of all kinds, including the worker-owned co-op movement, to create an economy that works for all. Join us, and together we will build the solidarity economy!

~The CUCI Staff
Kristen, Ellen, Christina, Andres & Maria 

Approval of Worker-Owner Loans Through New Peer Network

CUCI’s loan committee, which manages CUCI’s loan fund, recently approved three loan projects for three Our Harvest Co-op (OHC) worker-owners to buy their cooperative membership shares. These loans will allow OHC to receive the membership share buy-in amount upfront improving the cooperative's cash flow.

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CUCI is a member of The Working World’s National Peer Network and Financial Cooperative which brings together place-based organizations from around the country to build a national infrastructure of cooperative lending and non-extractive finance. CUCI is leading the way in worker-owner buy-in loans, the recently approved loans are the first of its kind to be given out from one of the National Peer Network.

Pictured: Olivia Nava and Alex Otto, two of the newest workers to be voted in as worker-owners on the farm team.



Apple Street Market is hiring an exceptional Capital Campaign Coordinator to join our fundraising team! Our Renovations funding to transform and outfit the store is coming together and NEST's purchase of the building is around the corner, paving the way for construction to begin. The next step is raising funds for merchandizing, marketing, hiring, training, and stocking the store through the Operations Campaign and the Coordinator is the key on-the-ground fundraiser, relationship builder, and cheer-leader. send your resume and cover letter to Find the full job description here.

The Union of Concerned Scientists Brainstorm Policy Solutions with Our Harvest


Three representatives from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) visited with Our Harvest worker-owners, board members and regional politicos at Bahr Farm in October. UCS is a bi-partisan organization applying scientific principles of sharing information, seeking truth, and letting findings guide conclusions.  One of their areas of focus is Food and Agriculture.  They connected with Phil Amadon, a founder and board member of Our Harvest, at an event last summer which led to the invitation to visit OHC at Bahr Farm. Their visit occurred on a beautiful October day in Cincinnati, where a tour of the farm led to a brainstorming session about the next farm bill (4 years from now) and what help and inclusion would look like for small farm operations like OHC.  We ended the visit with a delicious dinner on the farm, and agreed to stay connected and look for collaborative opportunities in the future.

Renting Partnerships get a visit from Sarah van Gelder & prominent business entrepreneurs!

Renting Partnerships get a visit from Sarah van Gelder & prominent business entrepreneurs!

Sarah van Gelder, co-founder of Yes! Magazine and author of "The Revolution Where You Live," hung out with Renting Partnerships team at one of our Avondale units and introduced her to our new  partners in another Cincinnati neighborhood with Cal Cullen from Wave Pool & The Welcome Project building community through a refugee and community art center.

CUCI Update – October 2018

Pictured: First week of Co-op U with special guest Sarah van Gelder!

Pictured: First week of Co-op U with special guest Sarah van Gelder!

This has been a whirlwind few months for CUCI. But there is a lot to celebrate!

  • We feel honored to be in the final round of several national grants related to our childcare co-op organizing  – Communities Thrive Challenge & the Worker's Lab

  • We completed a report for the Preschool Promise on how to raise wages in the childcare sector in Cincinnati.

  • We partnered with New Prospect Baptist Church on our first Fall Forum to engage the Cincinnati community around cooperative work locally, with special guest speaker Sarah van Gelder.

  • Flequer Vera, co-founder of CUCI and Sustainergy Co-op was elected to the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives board.

  • We partnered with MORTAR and were selected as one of 6 pilot cities to bring a localized version of Transform Finance's flagship training institute that will "will catalyze discussions and actions around how capital flows for communities, prioritizing the amplification of social justice leaders’ voices and expertise." Coming in February of 2019!

  • Several CUCI staff also attended the Working World's peer loan fund retreat and are processing our first loans to our co-ops.

  • We have just begun our 2nd round of our co-op incubator, Co-op U.

  • Later this month you will have an opportunity to become a partner in this work with us by becoming a Sustaining Partner or signing up for payroll deductionswith select workplaces through Community Shares giving! And we really hope to see the local folks at our Annual Creating an Economy that Works for all Celebration on Nov 29th!

Our Harvest Presents New Staff, New Roles and New Weekly Harvest Box Sites

This month Our Harvest was excited to fully transition the food hub coordinator position from our interim staff, Maria Dienger, to Zeke Coleman. With his deep knowledge of Our Harvest's packing and delivery operations and his sales relationships and experience he has built up as a worker-owner over the last five years, we are excited to see what he can bring to the food hub coordinator position. 

Additionally, Our Harvest welcomed back Amy Schreiner to the food hub team! She worked with Our Harvest when it was just a baby and now she is back after having a few babies of her own.We are grateful to have her back in the Our Harvest family!

In other news, Our Harvest has rolled out new Weekly Harvest Box pick-up sites. Cincinnati Children's Hospital and the Gaiser Bee Company out of Cincinnati's Monfort Heights neighborhood. Cincinnati Children's Hospital has been working with us through their Concierge Services program, which was introduced to provide services to employees with the intention of saving them time and providing peace of mind. The Gaiser Bee Company is a local food producer and fit right in with our mission of providing fresh local food that honors land and labor. They have their own property called the Gaiser Urban Farm where they sell their local honey, teach beekkeeping classes, sell bees and educate about the importance of protecting and sustaining our bee populations! 

One of the best ways to support Our Harvest Cooperative and the larger local food system in Cincinnati is to sign up for the Weekly Harvest Box at one of their 15 locations:


Sustainergy Cooperative Welcomes a New Member to the Team

Sustainergy is proud to welcome our newest member to both the team and the path to worker ownership!

Hailing all the way from Honduras, Yovany Gonzales will be bringing his years of expertise and hardworking spirit to our fight to make the area's homes more comfortable while also lowering energy bills, one home at a time.

The biggest impact in insulation is easily injection foam. Most people don't realize their walls are hurting their homes. A whopping 35% of energy is lost through your walls! Our expert technicians can fix this and save you $500+ annually! 

We've been providing injection foam for walls for a little while now, and the results are in! People are blown away by how effective our injection foam is. The foam completely fills your walls, with zero settling. It fills places other insulation products can’t—spaces behind electrical and phone wires, pipes, electrical outlets, and other areas—for maximum efficiency.

All the work can be done from the outside in many homes! Click the link below to set up a free assessment to see if injection foam is right for you.

Sustainergy has a solution for every part of your home, for every season.


Apple Street Market Is On The Move!

You may have seen us at Northside's 4th of July Parade or Rock 'n' Roll Carnival with our "nests." We were sharing the good news that construction financing is coming into place. 

This means that NEST (Northsiders Engaged in Sustainable Transformation) will soon take over as owners of the former Save-a-Lot and we will be able to get bids for construction to start!

We shared more good news at the our Volunteer Meeting on July 17th, including our official membership in AWG, a food supplier co-op that will make it possible for us to offer a wide range of high-quality foods at different price points, including prices competitive with the big discount chains. 

Working with AWG and local outlets like Our Harvest is how Apple Street Market will create a successful market that is designed for the unique needs of our neighborhoods. If you missed it, you can find our presentation at

We are excited to begin the next phase of our capital campaign, which will help us raise the capital we need for operating costs. We need all of our supporters to join us to make this campaign a success. 

Gem City Market and GDUCI Awarded $150,000 Grant

The U.S. Conference of Mayors and Wells Fargo awarded Gem City Market and the Greater Dayton Union Co-op Initiative (GDUCI) the 2018 CommunityWINS (Working/Investing in Neighborhood Stabilization) grant. The grant is awarded to nonprofits that work to promote long-term stability and a better quality of life for their community. Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley accepted the grant on behalf of GDUCI, saying, "We are thrilled that Gem City Market was selected for this award. The market will be an important asset for northwest Dayton, ensuring that residents have access to healthy food and other critical service. Their innovative model of community ownership will make sure that Dayton residents benefit from the market's success."

When it opens in 2019, Gem City Market will be a full-service, worker- and community-owned grocery store. 

Designing the Apple Street Market Teaching Kitchen

We're busy designing the Apple Street Market Teaching Kitchen!

One of our goals is to make the preparation of healthy, delicious meals inexpensive and convenient through education.  

Our designers and General Manager have been meeting with the Director of the Nutrition Council and staff from CAIN and OSU Extension to design the layout, determine equipment needs, and discuss plans for programming.  

Our teaching kitchen program will be a public facility for these organizations and others such as the Northside Farmer’s Market, Happen Inc., and Working in Neighborhoods to conduct their existing cooking programs as well as programs organized by Apple Street Market and our partners.  Programs will focus on inexpensive, nutritious, culturally appropriate, and easy to prepare meals. 

Among our hopes for the program are to have classes that:

  • reflect current culinary trends
  • promote local and seasonal foods
  • make preparing meals at home fun
  • emphasize cultural traditions of the residents of the Ohio River Valley
  • utilize ingredients available at Apple Street Market
  • help customers get the most out of benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance and Women, Infants, & Children programs



Our Harvest Update!


Our Harvest's Weekly Harvest Box program is a convenient way to bring fresh, local food to you, your family, and your gatherings! And you can support a worker and community owned co-op at the same time!

This is a perfect time of year to sign up for Our Harvest’s Weekly Harvest Box program. The weather is warm and our local farms  in and around Cincinnati are growing bounties of fresh, crisp and delicious produce! Taste the difference in your summer salad when you know the local farm it came from and how your tomatoes were grown.

We have many convenient weekly pick-up locations for you to choose from around Greater Cincinnati when you sign up for your Weekly Harvest Box. We offer a small, medium, and large box size to meet the needs of everyone from individuals to large families, those hosting the summer gatherings, and everyone in between. Sign up here to start receiving fresh, local produce in June! Take a look at our farms to learn about the wonderful people and places your produce will come from!

Harvest Box Sizes

Small: $12/week (4 items)
Medium: $20/week (8 items)

Large: $28/week (12 items)

We also offer other locally made food products, ranging from eggs to honey and beef to cheese.

More Perks with Our Harvest:

  • Our user-friendly website allows you to make changes to your order and put your box on hold when you go out of town!
  • Weekly add-ons to tailor your box to your liking
  • Weekly payment options are available

A full list of pick-up locations is available on our website.

We hope you'll join us today and enjoy some delicious, local food!

Questions? Contact us at

Read the full report here!

Exciting News From Apple Street Market!


Apple Street Market officially became an owner in Associated Wholesale Grocers (AWG) and has made progress on funding for acquiring the site for Apple Street Market. 

Apple Street Market made our relationship with AWG official. AWG is the nation's largest supplier of wholesale food to independently-owned grocery stores, and they are unique in that they are a cooperative food wholesaler—that is, the stores AWG wholesales to are owners of AWG. Because AWG is a retailer-owned cooperative, not only do they provide stores like Apple Street with the lowest cost of goods every day, but Apple Street also gets a share of their profits.

The City's Economic Development and Law Departments have drafted a funding agreement for the acquisition and remediation of 4145 Apple Street by Northsiders Engaged in Sustainable Transformation (NEST), our Northside nonprofit developer. We expect to hear any day now that the city has also provided NEST with a promissory note for the acquisition and remediation of our future home! Meanwhile we're finalizing our plans for the teaching kitchen and store equipment, so we're ready to go once NEST gets site control. Our bid date is determined by how fast the building gets transferred to NEST and how fast the New Market Tax Credits are distributed.

Free Energy Assessment With the Code "CUCI"


Sustainergy has something in common with the weather: things are heating up! We're excited about helping people beat the heat, while reducing their carbon footprint! We're looking at record heat this summer so in response Sustainergy is offering friends of CUCI a free infrared camera assessment of your home ($150 value). 

Proper home insulation and sealing are not just for the winter. With heat comes humidity and with humidity comes mold. We offer mold remediation as well. Sustainergy has a solution for every part of your house, for every part of the year.

Childcare Co-op News

CUCI is partnering with Tech Solidarity, a group of tech workers out of Silicon Valley that are putting their skills to good work on progressive projects throughout the country. Tech Solidarity has chosen CUCI—and more specifically, Care Share, one of our childcare projects—as the main nonprofit that they are supporting.

A contingent from CUCI traveled to Silicon Valley on May Day to help tech workers think through how they can structure their tech companies and startups as co-ops. We were also able to recruit volunteers for our childcare project.

Right now CUCI has one Care Share group that's up and running: a group of four families each paying $7/hour per child who have hired a caregiver as an employee for $17/hour with benefits to care for and educate their children for 40 hours per week in one of the parents’ homes. We have been able to expand access to personalized care while still paying the provider a living wage, and now we are working to scale the model. Volunteers of Tech Solidarity will each spend a week in Cincinnati collaborating with CUCI to develop a web platform that helps parents connect with one another to form a Care Share.

Be on the lookout for this exciting app and more information about how you can start your own Care Share group!