Some initial thoughts for the next leap into the unknown

Originally, we, the Colorado Team, had decided we would post our response together. I’ve decided to go ahead and do an initially posting since so much time has passed.

We have met and done an initial review and business plan but are working on getting more detail.

Here are some thoughts:

Within 6-12 months we hope to have our initial partners and implement our first shared purchasing contract.  As a result, it would be great to have from CPA some sample contract language, member contracts and more detailed information thatwill be needed starting early in 2020.  The more we can harvest from CPA DC the better!.  In addition, as we start looking at funders it will be important to be able to make a case for both direct grants and investments.  How do we coalesce investment partners into a large enough fund?  What kind of legal language and agreements do we need with potential investors?

We would absolutely like to maintain contact with others.  This initial cohort has been very helpful and supportive.  We have already scheduled a December check in phone call with our group and I anticipate will continue with monthly calls during 2020.  A contact list with everyone’s name would be helpful as well as those who attended the workshop in DC.  I like the idea of updates and ongoing occasional questions or prompts.

Based on our initial numbers we will need at least $25,000 in startup for an organizer for the first six months of 2020.  At that time, we will likely need to move to a full-time coordinator and other support which will mean an additional subsidy of at least $35,000 for year 2.  In additional to start up funds, templates for contracts, Mous, membership, etc. will be essential as well as some initial expertise in the areas we hope to begin.

We have already been meeting on a regular basis with our small group and have occasionally invited others to join us.  I do feel confident that we will be able to have a strong business plan that will move us forward.  We have a good core group, identified our initial lead organization, and key people.  We will be posting a larger feasibility plan but for current next steps:

  • Gather a larger contingent of key stakeholders by February 28th.
  • Identify some initial funding resources by the end of the first quarter.
  • Get buy in from key churches and Jubilee ministries within the Episcopal Church and Lutheran Church.
  • Identify the oversight and management structure for our local version of the CPA.

Wrapping up the Incubator and Stepping out into LA

Firstly, apologies for being late, although I did give Felipe and my fabulous #teamtuesday a heads up that would be the case. Also I’m not sick which is just a disaster. But I digress.

I’m really glad I joined this incubator. First and foremost it has put me into relationship with some phenomenal individuals and fellow justice-seekers that I hope to remain in contact with. We actually already have one follow up set up for December! 🙂 Thank you #teamtuesday for brightening my 6:50am-8:20am tuesdays! Special thanks to Juan for guest starring in #teamtuesday.

Ok, so on to address this prompt:

I have three important meetings set up for the next two weeks which will largely determine whether launching CPA in LA becomes a part-time project for me in January and a central project by 2021, or whether it will need to be a good idea on the backburner until 2021. The short and simple version of this comes down to:

1) Is there seed funding available, and if so, how much? (“Meeting” #1)

2) Are the local IAF affiliate and PICO affiliate willing to put time into credentialing me and/or another contracted individual to conduct feasibility meetings with decision makers within target institutions?  (Meetings 2 and 3)

3) Less importantly, but on my mind also is: Are there 2-3 key partners (ideally from the local affiliates but not necessarily) who would be willing to collaboratively guide this process, with me locally.

In filling out the feasibility excel document I decided to make two versions:

  1. Assuming there is only enough funding ($15,000-$20,000) to support contracting me outside of my full-time employment to meet with potential members, do the requisite research, and be in a position by the end of 2020 to launch a steering committee and roll out a first contract. Below are my best guesses at the type of support that would be needed at the various month-marks:
    1. 3 months: Establish hourly rate, payment mechanism and contract, organize data and written resources within a clear folder, 1 on 1s with CPA DC staff and sector-specific tutorials, 30-minute weekly calls to check in.
    1. 6 months: Site visit to meet with most interesting/interested leaders, dedicated time to workshop first potential contract .
    1. 12 months: Editing and reviewing first contract, invitation and support in attending CPA-expansion staff meeting over a weekend to discuss lessons learned and workshop issues that are arising.
  2. Assuming there is enough funding ($100,000-$120,000) to support 3-4 part-time contractors with deep connections in the community along with one full time organizer getting trained, conducting feasibility meetings, helping with logistics around emails, group meetings, and related activities. In this scenario the consultants and staff would function as a de-facto founding committee and could simultaneously work on founding the co-operative from an organizational standpoint as well as pushing forward the first contracts.  (This is what I have in mind before the important meetings and before talking with Juan about his ideas/commission model, which I’m intrigued to consider) Below are my best guesses at the type of support that would be needed at the various month-marks:
    1. 3 months: Establish hourly rates and contract with contractors and staff , payment mechanism, organize data and written resources within a clear folder, zoom meetings with CPA DC staff and sector-specific tutorials, 30-minute weekly calls to check in.
    1. 6 months: Site visit to meet with most interesting/interested leaders, dedicated time to workshop first potential contract(s) .
    1. 12 months: Editing and reviewing first contract, invitation and support in attending CPA-expansion staff meeting over a weekend to discuss lessons learned and workshop issues that are arising.

I didn’t make an excel document for it, but there is a third option I have in mind in which over the course of the next two weeks I discover that in fact the only piece of founding CPA in LA missing is funding and for me to make sure the right people have access to the relationships and resources the CPA DC and CPA incubator provide. I would love to continue to be involved, and in order to be held accountable for outcomes and for reasons of economic justice and the high value I place on my time I would need there to be funding to do so. However, if it makes the most sense for me not to be involved, I will be an enthusiastic cheerleader and supporter of the process.

I think whether or not an initial investment could or would be paid back depends on several things I don’t have enough clarity about quite yet. I can imagine CPA LA being asked to chose between an initial investment that gets paid back via yearly dues to the CPA LA/national organization or deciding to repay in full and be independent.

And with that, it is 10pm and I must most definitely sleep. I’m excited and curious to see where this might all lead. Los Angeles is most definitely ready for this model, and I’m very hopeful I can be part of bringing the various actors to the table to make it as impactful as possible. I’m excited to have a community to continue working on it with.

Oh, but I’ve stopped working on my splits. (Shoot.)

Starting the Conversation.

The Incubator has been a truly rich, inspiring experience for me. Thank you to everyone who contributed to making this such a supportive community.

After starting out with an idea for a project, scrapping that idea, and needing time to discover and embrace the possibilities that have been right in front of me from the start, I’ve decided to carry the work of the Incubator forward by- as the title of this post suggests :)- starting the conversation about CPA in Detroit.

This means engaging with my network in a new way. It means opening up about my disappointment over the missed opportunities that I see for business support organizations to promote alternative models of business development- models that prioritize community-wealth building.  It means inviting people to explore with me what it could look like to use the CPA model here as one tool or practice among others that can collectively form broader movement to promote a more equitable local economy.

My next steps for this work are to:

Know my stuff.

I still have plenty to learn about what CPA is, how it operates today, the nuts and bolts. Since I wasn’t focused on CPA for half of my time in the Incubator, I pretty much gave myself a pass to not have to dig in too deep on understanding the mechanics of it or understanding the nuance in terms of how it is being imagined and reimagined for implementation in other cities.

In addition to reading through the materials that have been so generously provided, I also want to talk to people in the cohort about their specific CPA aspirations. To what extent are they hoping to tweak the model to match the unique needs/interests of their communities? To what extent are they looking to copy and paste the model as is?

Action Steps:

  • Read through the CPA materials, watch the videos (November 30, 2019)
  • Check in with folks from the cohort who are actually thinking through how to best bring the model to life in their context will be an important action step (December 7, 2019)
  • Check in with Felipe for feedback on the talking points for my one on ones and convening. (December 14, 2019)

Have one on ones.

I’ve brainstormed a list of people in my entrepreneurship network (and/or people in their networks) with whom I’d like to start. The goal of the one on ones from my perspective is to gain a deeper understanding of people’s current work (understanding the landscape), gauge people’s interest in doing business differently/ creating a more equitable economy, and, if it makes sense, to invite them to participate in the larger convening.

I think one of the biggest gains from these meetings will be to come out of them with an understanding of what different efforts in different pockets of the city are aimed at community wealth building, coop development, or economic justice.

Action Steps:

  • Schedule/have one on ones with the 20 people on my list. (January 30, 2020)
  • Keep track of my notes from each meeting!

Host a convening of like minds.

The goals of the meeting, as I see them now, will be to 1) provide space for invitees to network and learn about each other’s work and 2) use CPA as the ‘hook’ or the thing that brings them together for learning, reflecting, and engaging with one another around an idea.

There’s already energy in pockets of Detroit around efforts to build a more just, equitable economy. How can that energy be harnessed and amplified by bringing people together to network and build connections, and also to explore what CPA could look like in Detroit.

Action Steps:

  • Host the convening (February 28, 2019)

Follow up + next steps

The results of the one on ones and the convening will dictate next steps. I will share those with the group.

How will I carry forward what I’ve learned?

I have learned so much from this process and from each person in it, I am overwhelmed with gratitude and admiration for everyone! I am looking forward to our Team Tuesday reunion in December. I have found the weekly check-ins incredibly generative and a great source of support/accountability for this work.

I have mentioned to Felipe that part of this process for me is about learning how co-ops work so that I can support efforts here in Miami to build CPA, and also because I am interested in a possible Florida restorative justice (RJ) practitioners’ co-op that is focused on identifying, recruiting, training, and providing opportunities for youth (especially youth of color) to grow their own RJ practice skills so that they can be financially compensated for their ongoing RJ facilitation work in communities around the state.

Next steps in south Florida:

  1. For CPA Miami, I am looking forward to following Juan Francisco’s lead, along with the leadership of his organization, Future Partners. My hope is to be of use where it makes sense as I am able! I know that between Juan Francisco’s personality and business acumen, and Future Partners’ role in the Miami community, the outlook for CPA here is extremely sunny!
    1. I am hopeful that there will be opportunities to connect Barry University as a possible anchor institution, as well as building relationships with congregations affiliated with Miami PACT and also helping us get connected with folks who are doing great environmental/energy work in Florida (a whacky regulatory environment!).
    1. And, I am hopeful that through the BE Lab at Barry, I can help identify and recruit students (particularly first-generation students of color from linguistically diverse and low-income communities in south Florida) who could eventually be vendors for the CPA venture in Miami.
  2. For the Restorative Justice worker co-op,
    1. I need to following with Ron at tilde to see if he would be willing to share their initial budget with me. I have no idea what is required for this kind of co-op start-up budget (when we spoke, he focused mainly on the cost of purchasing equipment for the translation services, but there must have been other expenses related to marketing/advertising, accounting, and office space?).
    1. Late January 2020 is the FRJA (Florida Restorative Justice Association) meeting, which will be an opportunity to publicly pitch the co-op to the most likely members.
    1. Of course, I anticipate that there will be a lot of individual meetings leading up to this gathering, beginning with a meeting next week with two RJ facilitators/community organizers in Miami who have a lot of influence among youth doing RJ work in the Miami area.

Depending on how the meeting goes at FRJA, I will have a better sense of the need/interest in this potential co-op in Florida. At that point, it would be awesome to get CPA’s advice (and partnership?) on how to move forward, particularly around funding relationships.

Now what? and other Non-CPA goals

The incubator has been a significant catalyst for me to identify my key goals for the next few months and develop a set of workable steps to achieve them. I hadn’t previously given myself the time and space I deserve to consider what I really want. I have been operating without questioning assumptions that got me to where I am in the first place.

Now, I am more confident of my next steps, both in terms of PizzaPlex and exploring building a network of investors in women- and POC-owned businesses.

Pizza Dreams

The last post not only honed my empathy for the “non-Neapolitan pizza customer” (what we in the industry call the NNPCs) (just kidding), but also resulted in some fantastic questions and considerations from commenters that I am so grateful to have received. Based on the past few weeks of listening, learning, and deliberating, I will pursue the following next steps by end of 2019 for PizzaPlex to accelerate its conversion to a worker-owned business:

  • Develop a comprehensive marketing plan in collaboration with the team, especially soliciting help from our new Events & Partnerships manager (formerly our Operations Manager). This will give me the opportunity to develop the customer profile – who is our customer, and who will our customers become? I will also finally make time to consider and articulate/document clearly all that PizzaPlex has to offer beyond the delicious product itself – catering services, event space, and programming.
  • More actively consider next steps from our conversion consultants (Center for Community Based Enterprise, or C2BE). C2BE has provided guidelines for what we need to consider long-term to enable our conversion to worker ownership. While we all know how important this is, we have had trouble imagining the future in the pursuit to keep doors open today. I can at least make sure we are clear on the specific questions we need to answer to prepare for that future conversion.
  • Continue refining our messaging. Sometimes, I feel our value proposition or description of our Edges gets lost in complex wording. It took the team a long time to land on Pizza – People – Planet. What else can we do?

Theory of Change: Invest in women, improve world

A friend and I have been meeting regularly to ask each other questions and challenge the notion of what a network/fund for investment in women- and POC-owned businesses could be.

Our agreed-to next steps are:

  • Complete the Ship-it Journal! And compare our notes
  • Get smarter on alternative forms of investment and community capital (I know some experts in this cohort I might want to consult!)
  • Benchmark and learn more about a few Detroit-based investment companies and community organizations, national VCs/investment companies that focus on women and POCs, the legal constraints of alternative investment vehicles (lawyer friends – we will be looking at you)
  • Survey local women entrepreneurs leading all sizes/types of ventures with the following preliminary questions: Do you feel your business needs more capital (outside investment)? How would additional funding help? What is preventing you from obtaining it now? What does your business need to succeed?
  • Interview local experts/investors in women- and POC-owned businesses; understand where gaps are

The plan for this network is to do as much research as we can before the end of the year, recognizing we will have a number of action items and meetings that carry over into early 2020.

Staying in touch

I am so grateful for the opportunity to have written and publicly posted my ideas and plans. I’ve never seriously blogged before, and certainly not with the same level of consistency! (Yes. I realize it has only been once a week for six weeks.) I would love to stay in touch with other incubator participants through our continued writing, comments, and reflection, if CPA is willing to maintain the WordPress site for that express purpose! This allows for low-pressure stakes to contribute, read, and comment – all with the goal of generously supporting when and how we can, from wherever we find ourselves! I’m looking forward to staying in touch with all participants and following the important work you are all doing.

One-on-ones for days

I’d love to tackle a larger feasibility study; sadly, this week is not the week. The good news is tomorrow I meet with a lead organizer for the local IAF organizer to map out potential connections. That could open dozens of doors all at once – hopefully a mix of large, mid-sized, and smaller faith institutions.


The next step is a bunch of one-on-ones, trust building, and data gathering. The Incubator has helped me feel more prepared for those conversations with a deeper analysis around relational meeting, and a much clearer sense of what questions to ask. The questions in the final tabs of the Prompt 6 Mini-Feasibility Study spreadsheet are super clear and helpful, if you haven’t checked them out already.


If I can match Carrie’s speed of analysis and opportunity hunting (high fives!), that could put us on track for our first group purchase in February or March. April or May may be the right time for a second group purchase and formal founding.


With that pace, we’d be able to map out a timeline to profitability. I have some concerns around a quick path to profitability since many institutions in Cleveland are smaller and more financially strapped than many faith institutions in cities on the coast, I assume. Still we’re going to plow ahead with the existing, relatively cohesive networks of faith institutions through the IAF and other networks and see where it takes us.


I think what I find most intimidating about this whole process is the idea of my personally seeing all the details through on arranging contracts for institutions that join CPA Cleveland. Details are not my strength. I do not know contracts well. It will take a lot of focus for me to stick with the details in the meaningful way that allows CPA Cleveland to do right by its member institutions. The experienced CPA people who will be able to support us help me feel confident for this challenge.


I’m also excited to tackle this challenge with other folks in the Incubator! I’ve enjoyed getting to know all of you. I’d like to stay in touch. How about every two weeks open house Zoom chats to update each other on progress and help address pressing questions?

Goals for Boston (Specific, Measurable, Ambitious, Realistic, Time-bound)


Strategic Plan / Goals

By Feb 14:


  • 60 1:1s 


      • By the end of my 8th week now and I’ve done 20. I can up that rate.
      • These 1:1s are with church pastors, synagogue directors, community organizers, potential providers, civic leaders, people I hope will help champion the work, etc
      • I find the in-person meetings take about 1.5 hours, and I much prefer in person to phone. Setting the meeting up, preparing, then follow-up takes another couple hours each


  • Gathered 40 electric bills 


      • From the 20 meetings I’ve had so far, 8 of them have resulted in sharing electric bills. The other meetings weren’t directly applicable to electric bill gathering. I have an 100% success rate of asking for bills in person and receiving them later (aka nobody says no), although it often takes follow-up. 
      • I hope to get more bills both from more focus on relevant in-person meetings, and also by connecting with larger networks of institutions that can make the ask for me:
        • GBIO? – I plan to follow up with everyone on the first two calls and see who I’m still missing bills from. Maybe a list email here to see if that gets traction
        • MATSA – Massachusetts Association of Temples and Synagogue Administrators – meeting with them next week
        • Episcopal Archdiocese – cold lead from someone I hope to find direct contact with
        • Roslindale Leaders meeting – going tomorrow
        • ??


  • Set date for a group Zoom meeting of all who have submitted electric bills
  • Facilitated group Zoom meeting of 6-10 institutions interested in a trash hauling RFP


    • I’ve discovered that this is a major issue for several institutions. CPA’s success with this in other regions makes it a good next step
    • Involves finding a lawyer to help with breaking contracts and establishing relationships with new trash hauling providers 
  • Group in-person meeting of those who could be a “steering committee” for CPA Boston. Also a way to engage new people. Already met with several people who I could see being champions in this