March 24, 2016

$375,000 grant to be invested in low-income Latina entrepreneurs

Mariana Phipps and Ada Recinos

NEWS RELEASE

 

Contact: Ada Recinos, info@prosperacoops.org, 510.451.3100 Ext. 208

For Immediate Release

$375,000 grant to be invested in low-income Latina entrepreneurs

Nonprofit envisions a vibrant ecosystem of Latina-owned cooperatives transforming communities and building prosperity

OAKLAND, CA (February 24, 2016) – Prospera Community Development (Prospera) is pleased to announce that it has received a multi-year grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in the amount of $375,000 over three years to improve the economic outcomes for low-income Latina women and their families. Oakland-based Prospera is the only nonprofit in the U.S. that focuses solely on developing and launching cooperative businesses owned by Latina immigrant women. 

Prospera has an intensive cooperative incubation program for low-income Latina entrepreneurs who want to create their own worker-owned business. The nonprofit provides technical assistance, training and coaching to support them in building cooperative ventures that make it possible for them to move their families out of poverty, create wealth in their communities, and ultimately become ambassadors for co-op development in other marginalized communities.

“Inequality and lack of economic mobility define today’s economy, putting the American Dream out of reach for the vast majority of low-wage workers,” said Meche Sansores, Co-Executive Director at Prospera. “This is particularly true for the many immigrants employed in the U.S. service sector, who despite their determination and tenacity, often struggle to make ends meet. Thanks to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s generous grant we will be able to complete the design and testing of our new co-op development program. This investment will allow Prospera to reach over 300 women in the next three years. ”

“We’re excited to support Prospera’s important work,” said Loren Harris, director of Family Economic Security at the Kellogg Foundation. “We believe that all children should be raised in economically secure families so they’re ready to learn and succeed in school and lead a healthy life. Prospera’s cooperative program will help these entrepreneurs build the financial security they need to help their children thrive.”

In cooperatives, women share work, responsibility and knowledge, while enjoying flexibility— which is important for mothers who need a child-friendly work environment. Co-ops also provide countless possibilities for leadership development. Cooperative businesses are a natural match for Latina immigrant women, given their inherent sense of collectivism, a quality that is often missing in the highly individualistic U.S. business environment. In fact, there is a vibrant history of cooperatives in Latin American countries and co-ops provide an integrated support system that is difficult to find in other types of businesses.

 

Worker-owned cooperatives are increasingly being recognized as viable options for building more equitable economies across the globe. These values-driven businesses put worker and community benefits at the core of their purpose. Ana, one of the founders of Just Paletas, our most recent food cooperative venture, told us about her community vision. She said, “I would like it if the cooperative model was extended and benefited all my co-workers, my cousins, my aunts, and even those I don’t know. That would be my biggest dream. That everyone would benefit, in that way.”  By placing worker’s needs before investors’ profits, successful worker cooperatives democratize wealth, rather than concentrating it in a few owners.

Prospera’s model builds on 20 years of experience incubating successful green house cleaning coops. Recently the organization expanded its program to support entrepreneurial Latinas to launch businesses in diverse industries.

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About Prospera Community Development

Prospera is an Oakland-based nonprofit organization founded in 1995 and is the only nonprofit in the U.S. that focuses exclusively on developing and launching cooperative businesses owned by Latina immigrant women. For more information, visit www.prosperacoops.org

 

About the W.K. Kellogg Foundation

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundation in the U.S. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.

The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works through the U.S. and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit www.wkkf.org

Prospera I Program Partcipants
Paleteria Founders
Prospera Participants in Training Session