Charity Schmidt

Madison Cooperative Development Coalition, UW Center for Cooperatives

Workers' Cooperative & Worker Self-Directed Nonprofits


As a cooperative development specialist at the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives, Charity provides technical assistance to start-up co-ops and facilitates outreach efforts to cooperators and community-based organizations. She coordinates the work of the Madison Cooperative Development Coalition (MCDC), the City of Madison’s funded initiative to form worker cooperatives that address income inequality and racial disparities by creating living-wage and union jobs. She takes pride in creating spaces for co-op education and coordination, building relationships between entrepreneurs and community organizations, and contributing to community-driven economic development in Madison. Charity earned masters degrees in Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies, and Sociology from University of Wisconsin-Madison. She taught classes on social theory, sociology of race and ethnicity, and American contemporary society at Madison College and UW-Madison. She has published work in topics ranging from diversity in and access to service learning, sociology in action beyond the university, and the crisis facing bee colonies. She serves on the Board of MadWorC, the peer to peer network of Madison worker cooperatives, as well as the Board of Worker Justice WI, which builds collective worker power through training, labor rights education, collective action and community engagement, with an emphasis on interfaith involvement.



The Madison Cooperative Development Coalition (MCDC) is the City of Madison’s initiative to form worker cooperatives that address income inequality and racial disparities by creating living-wage and sustainable jobs. We are a collaborative of community-based organizations, business resource specialists, and cooperative developers. MCDC works to support the growth and creation of worker cooperatives, specifically addressing the factors affecting local communities of color, low-wealth, and traditionally excluded workforces. The goal is to create a sustainable system that will combat poverty, empower workers and increase equity in order to strengthen Madison’s long-term economic health. The University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives's mission is to increase understanding and encourage critical thinking about cooperatives by fostering scholarship and mutual learning among academics, the cooperative community, policy makers, and the public.

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