My name is Valerie Jameson, and I am currently a team of one. I am 24 years old and hail from Richmond, CA. I am the Education Justice Coordinator at the RYSE Youth Center, and my goal is to start a cooperative led by West Contra Costa youth that operates a food and drink pop-up shop. The cooperative will be led by youth targeted by systems of incarceration and deportation. The operation of the cooperative is designed to offer hard/soft skill development for youth that creates a pipeline of success and mentorship. The vision is to guide youth toward broader community ownership while growing a cooperative business model that encompasses other benefits such as grants for young people to pursue higher education and home ownership.
I decided to create this social enterprise because I have increasingly become more frustrated with the lack of sustainable opportunities laid out for youth in the community. There have been increased efforts to better the lives of the community members, but not enough opportunities to equip young people with tools and stepping stones needed toward transformative community change. Our youth and their families are at risk of being pushed out by gentrification and doomed to a life of poverty despite having fortitude and ingenuity. Currently, refugees and immigrants are exploited by the food industry, and this effort is a direct critique of this and other extractive systems that act upon youth of color. The vision also includes growing the cooperative into a platform that leverages community wealth to incubate, launch, and grow other social enterprises. The community changes I would like to see this social enterprise realize is an overall greater cultural, political, and social responsibility toward improving the conditions of youth and their families in the flats of our cities. I would like to see my social enterprise further leadership development opportunities that empower the lives of our cooperative members, raise the political consciousness of social issues, and display greater autonomy to advocate for just policies that are accountable and transparent to the people. The cooperative is an opportunity to fund our larger struggle for liberation.
This cooperative will also raise consumer consciousness and supports the broader community. Beyond providing high quality, healthy, and affordable food and drink options in a proven food dessert. We would further our value proposition by partnering with local public schools to invest a portion of our proceeds to micro-grants that advance educational and entrepreneurial opportunities for the future innovators of our community.
If you or anyone you know is interested in connecting with me on this idea, please reach out to me at my personal email, firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be working diligently to develop a thorough business plan, raise start-up funds, and file necessary documentation to form the cooperative and be for operation. If you have suggestions or questions, don’t hesitate to reach out.