Dear Friends and Supporters,

For three decades, the Consortium for Worker Education has dedicated itself to the development of New York's workforce. Through partnerships with unions and community organizations, CWE provides education, training, and job placement for tens of thousands of workers every year. Please read on for the latest news from the Consortium for Worker Education.



CWE Trains Worker-Owners

The United Handymen Coop received training and certification in occupational safety and health standards, provided by Accion Cooperativa de Entrenadores Occupacionales.


What would happen if workers owned the businesses they work at? It’s not a theoretical question; across New York and across the world, more and more workers are taking their futures into their own hands and forming worker-owned businesses known as cooperatives.
New York has coops of all sizes, from a small group of handymen joining forces in Sunset Park, to a cooperative of 2,000 home health aides in the Bronx.
Three years ago, the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA) convened a group of organizations to discuss how to foster and grow these unique businesses. A variety of groups were at the table, including Make the Road New York (MTRNY) and the Center for Family Life (CFL), which had been developing coops in their communities, and organizations like the Consortium for Worker Education and the Business Outreach Center Network, which had experience training workers for success in their fields. That discussion became the Worker Cooperative Business Development Initiative, which has received funding from the City Council and set to work supporting New York’s coops. 
“CWE has been a collaborator of the worker cooperative movement in New York City for several years, most recently with the FPWA and their major cooperative development initiative,” says Deputy Executive Director Beverley O'Donnell. “We see great opportunity to grow the current initiative through educating and training worker cooperative members.”
CWE held its initial trainings for cooperatives this year. For Golden Steps, a cooperative of elder care providers, CFL and CWE organized a training on what to do when natural disasters strike; many of the caregivers remembered vividly the chaos for elderly New Yorkers following Hurricane Sandy. Cooperatives of handymen and professional cleaners came to CWE for a training and certification in occupational safety and health standards (appropriately provided by a cooperative of certified trainers, called Accion Cooperativa de Entrenadores Occupacionales, which translates as Occupational Safety Trainers Cooperative in Action).
While training business owners is new to CWE, the needs of students are familiar. “In essence, we are training workers,” says O'Donnell. And CWE understands how to train workers. “They need it in real time, they need it targeted, and they need it at a convenient time. We are addressing a gap that is not being filled by formal coursework.”
As the project matures, CWE plans to expand its offerings to coops, including marketing, branding, sales, and bookkeeping. While coop workers are often experts in their given fields, say O'Donnell, they are still learning what it takes to run a successful business.
With the new coop initiative, CWE is showing what it takes to evolve and grow with New York’s ever-changing workforce.



From Addiction to Employment: Earl's Story


Earl grew up in a low-income household in the Bronx. After his father passed away in his youth, he turned to alcohol and drugs to cope. Through the next few decades, he struggled with crack addiction, was in and out of jail, lost several dead end jobs, and went through a handful of programs that never addressed his drug habit. and tired of the same old cycle, Earl checked into a substance abuse treatment center. After eight months of learning to live without dependency, Earl was referred to HOPE, a job training partner funded by the Consortium for Worker Education.

Through HOPE’s twelve weeks of training, supportive staff, and an internship in the nonprofit sector, Earl secured a full-time job with benefits and a competitive salary at a leading nonprofit organization. He is now celebrating nine months on the job and over a year of sobriety.

“My family feels great about my new job. It’s great to have them back in my life,” says Earl. And he knows that when he hits career challenges or is ready to advance, he can return to HOPE for continued support. “HOPE for life.”

Earl’s transformation didn't end with sobriety and a job - he also completed the New York City marathon.

A video featuring Earl’s transformation is on the HOPE website.