Cleveland Owns is hiring a co-op developer through Americorps VISTA!


10 Feb
10Feb

Cleveland Owns is recruiting a new team member motivated to challenge racial capitalism by building cooperatively owned enterprises as an Americorps VISTA with Cleveland Owns. 

In this role, you’ll primarily support the Cleveland Solar Cooperative (www.clevelandsolar.org), a multi-class, multi-racial, resident-owned solar enterprise Cleveland Owns incubated. You’ll help manage the business development of solar projects and recruit new members to join the cooperative by connecting around the values at stake in the fight for climate justice and energy democracy. 

Submit applications via our partner Think Tank, Inc. here by Friday, February 26th for an April 12th start date (negotiable). 


Responsibilities and Duties

This role is two parts business development, and one part community organizing. On the business development side, you’ll work with Cleveland Solar Cooperative (CSC) as a project manager for their first collectively owned solar project. You’ll set clear deadlines for finalizing legal documents such as the PPA, launch a request for proposal for a solar installer, and coordinate the construction teams we hire to install the array. You’ll help the CSC volunteer board track financial KPIs and report on progress of the project. You’ll also synchronize with the CSC membership teams to fundraise for the project, building relationships with CSC Member Owners, explaining the fundraising terms, and tracking documents and funds raised. 

Your community organizing work with CSC will be to educate and motivate new groups of residents, called project groups, who want to join the cooperative. You’ll help recruit new members, and guide the nascent project groups as they prepare their first project. This work will be centered on building trusting relationships with people of various races, class backgrounds, and levels of knowledge around solar. We expect as many as 15 new project groups will apply to join CSC, and 5 will actually do so during your time in this role - that’s 60 or so new member owners!

All this work is part of Cleveland Owns’ Energy Democracy Initiative, an effort to bring the principles of Just Transition to life in Cleveland by starting solar cooperatives and advocating for just energy policy. Cleveland Owns incubated CSC, and has a seat on the board. You’ll be an important bridge between the two organizations. As part of the Cleveland Owns team, you’ll work on miscellaneous tasks for our organization as well as your work with CSC. 


Qualifications and Skills

The best candidates for this job are committed to a cooperative movement that aims to transform racial capitalism. They have demonstrated resilience through adversity. They’re excited to jump into the details of operating a solar startup community enterprise. And they’re open to learn new things about coops, solar, and themselves. 

Cleveland Owns will support you in this role as you deepen your skills related to business development and community organizing. Experience in both, or at least demonstrated interest in both, though, is a helpful starting place. We pride ourselves on building a powerful culture to nurture professional and personal development. 

Any combination of formal education, paid work experience, unpaid/volunteer experience, and life experience will be considered to meet the following qualifications and skills:

  • Commitment to social, economic and ecological justice, and working towards the liberation and well being of all people
  • Working knowledge of business principles, tools, and terminology 
  • Proficient with Google Suite, Microsoft Office, Zoom, and conference calls
  • Strong time management skills, self-motivated with accuracy and attention to detail
  • A collaborative relationship-builder with strong interpersonal skills and high emotional intelligence    
  • Willing to learn from mistakes, receive feedback, and give feedback to others
  • Commitment to building a culture of mutual accountability, liberation, and respect
  • High emotional intelligence and strong interpersonal communicator with a collaborative orientation towards teams

Preferred qualifications and skills:

  • Experience in one or more aspects of the business side of solar (e.g., solar finance, procurement, project management)
  • Experience working in cooperatives or in collaborative environments
  • Demonstrated commitment to solidarity economy values, such as racial, economic, and climate justice; cooperative ownership; democratic governance; and systems change


Deadline and how to apply

Submit applications via our partner Think Tank, Inc. here by Friday, February 26 for an April 12th start date. 


Equal Opportunity Employer

Cleveland Owns is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, height, weight, or marital status in employment or the provision of services. Cleveland residents are strongly encouraged to apply.


About Cleveland Owns

Founded in 2019, Cleveland Owns is a nonprofit cooperative business incubator working to build community wealth and power through collective ownership. We are incubating two solar cooperatives, a broadband internet co-op, a food co-op, and a purchasing cooperative of faith institutions. We have two full-time workers and nine members of a majority-Black board, and we work with over 60 volunteers across Northeast Ohio.

We’re motivated to do this work because we know that in racial capitalism, ownership confers control and the power to profit. We must build alternative institutions to democratize ownership even as we act to dismantle a system based on white supremacy and worker exploitation that concentrates wealth and power in the hands of the few. We envision a Cleveland where groups of neighbors and groups of workers are equipped to self-organize to take back economic power and pursue justice on their own terms. 


What past team members have to say about working with Cleveland Owns

"Cleveland Owns is a fantastic company to work for. I have grown both personally and professionally with Cleveland Owns. This experience helped fulfill my professional goals of developing my knowledge of accounting systems, managerial communications, and research."

"In addition, Cleveland Owns has also assisted in my personal development. I learned about the strength of personal testimonies, how to become more emotionally empathetic with others, and the importance of anti-racism. I have more confidence in myself and my background. I never thought that I would be able to develop emotional empathy and self-confidence through a virtual work experience, but working with Cleveland Owns definitely has that effect."

- Matthew L., Cleveland Owns intern, summer 2020

“During the summer of 2019 I had the amazing opportunity to intern with Cleveland Owns. High expectations, as well as the culture of learning and growth, allowed me to flourish. Working with Cleveland Owns gave me the opportunity to see that change can come from those who inhabit that community if there is dedication and strategic partnerships. I would recommend any friend or associate that wants to make a tangible social change to consider working with Cleveland Owns.”

- James G., Cleveland Owns intern, summer 2019

"Working for Cleveland Owns gave me the tools that I needed to harness my passions, and gave me the power to coalesce with community members to effect change in Cleveland. Cleveland Owns weaponizes grassroots organizing while creating formidable changemakers who want to see an equitable and justified future."

- Ashley R., Cleveland Owns organizer, winter 2020


Note: Some of the wording on this job description has been adapted from job postings by the New Economy Coalition and the Center for Economic Democracy, two groups that inspire us daily!

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