Morris Foundation Impacts ACE Institute Attendees

Cooperatives, presenters and attendees representing diverse sectors from several countries assembled for the Association of Cooperative Educators (ACE) Symposium in Minneapolis on July 24-26. Among the 103 attendees, 13 students and young professionals were able to participate because of the Cooperative Leadership Fund provided by the Ralph K. Morris Foundation. Catch a glimpse of the energy and educational benefit expressed by scholarship recipients in the videos and the letter below.

Evelyn Poisson, conflict management consultant and grad student, from Montreal, Canada and Ratih Sutrisno, Director of Community Engagement at North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO) share their experience in two videos during the ACE Symposium:

Rachel J. Haigh-Blume, education director, South Dakota Farmers Union, wrote to us about her rich learning experience at the ACE Institute:

The ACE Institute I attended in Minneapolis was very beneficial. The first keynote featuring Village Trust Financial Cooperative was thought provoking as they encourage Support, Celebrate, Insulate and Protect (SCIP) for their members, community, and each other. It was interesting to hear about the legacy and CredJaFawn and how everything was changed when I-94 came through [St. Paul and Minneapolis]. It is very relevant as cooperatives today still need to remember their founders as the environment and marketplace shift dynamics. I also learned a great deal with the session on shared machinery cooperatives in Canada and it made me think about how this could work back home to share the financial burdens as costs keep increasing. The Childcare Worker Cooperative is also very relevant. Just like in urban settings, rural areas are having a hard time finding childcare workers which directly impacts the growth and support of other rural businesses.

Both days were filled with learning experiences and thought provoking discussions. I especially appreciated the 40 Square presentation about Farmer’s Health Care Cooperatives and what Minnesota Famers Union and even Land O Lakes is pursuing to see if it works as healthcare cooperatives for farmers may help ease the burden of insurance costs.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the experience was talking to individuals from other countries and hearing their cooperative story. For example, in Ukraine they are very hesitant with the word cooperative and how it may relate back to a regime of control. I visited with a gentleman from Puerto Rico who leads an insurance cooperative and learned how they worked the day after the hurricane and are still receiving claims. What a unique experience I wish I would have had more time to hear his story. From discussions to tours to presentations the entire conference offered a wealth of learning and growth and insight into cooperatives in a different realm from what we normally experience where I live.

The Ralph K Morris Cooperative Leadership Fund was very beneficial to me and I’m grateful for the support and the opportunity to attend this event. It is very hard to find anyone that supports continuing education as budgets shrink and having an organization such as the foundation and the support of those who understand and promote cooperatives is invaluable. The process was very easy to submit yet thought provoking and the follow up was appropriate. Thank you so much for allowing me this opportunity.