August 5, 2022
Lela Klein (J.D. ’09) was awarded a seed grant to support Co-op Dayton, a non-profit she co-founded in 2015 with other community activists and advocates in Dayton, Ohio with a mission of incubating worker-owned businesses that create good jobs, fill community needs, and build a more rooted and resilient local economy. In a city where deindustrialization and disinvestment eliminated traditional pathways to the middle class, Co-op Dayton aims to reconnect working families to their economic agency by creating cooperatives where profits and decision-making are more equitably distributed. The organization was inspired by the remarkable model of the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation in the Basque region of Spain, which took a small city from poverty to prosperity through a network of worker owned co-ops. Co-op Dayton’s first major project is to develop a community- and worker-owned grocery store in the city’s food desert: The Gem City Market, slated to break ground in 2019. Klein also received an Echoing Green Fellowship to support her work with Co-op Dayton.