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Direct Support Professionals Employee-Owned Cooperative Program

HCBS Workforce Development Grants for direct care professionals to develop employee-owned cooperatives.

The Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers (MCCD) seeks direct care workers who provide home and community based services (HCBS) for people with disabilities and older adults to apply for the HCBS Workforce Development cooperatives grant. The grant will award selected groups up to a total of $162,000, split over two years, to help direct care workers establish their own employee-owned cooperative businesses (or transition a current business to an employee-owned cooperative).

Employee-Owned Cooperative

A business that is jointly owned and democratically controlled by some or all of its employees. No one can own more than one share of the business- 1 member, 1 share. Profits are shared equitably based upon the employee-owner’s labor contributions. The cooperative has a Board of Directors that is comprised of employee—owners, which is elected by the coop members.

About the Grant

The grant was established to address challenges related to attracting and maintaining direct care workers who provide HCBS for people with disabilities and older adults. There are several grant initiatives being funded through the workforce grant, one of them being the employee-owned cooperatives grant opportunity. The cooperatives grant opportunity is intended to help current direct care workers gain more control over their work environment through the employee-owned cooperative business model.


There are ten employee-owned cooperatives grants available. Grants will be competitive. Grant money will be distributed on an as-needed basis, pending approval from the state-appointed vendor, MCCD.  


Grant funds must be used to support the development and sustainability of the employee-owned health or human services cooperatives. Business development efforts include, but are not limited to: 

  • Legal advice
  • Licensing fees
  • Specialized consulting services from business experts
  • Business equipment and supplies
  • Insurance costs
  • Beginning staff salaries (while waiting for reimbursement from the state of Minnesota)
  • Payroll or other software
  • Employee training
  • Building rental expenses
Other Assistance

In addition to the employee-owned cooperatives grants, MCCD will provide culturally relevant business development and technical assistance services to the cooperatives, including but not limited to:

  • Supporting the cooperatives as they develop and monitor business plans
  • Providing in-person and virtual classroom-based entrepreneurial training
  • Providing one-on-one business counseling
  • Providing technical assistance services, such as connecting cooperatives with specialists and other resources as needed
Applicant Eligibility

Pursuant to Minn. Session Laws – 2021, 1st Special Session, Article 17, Sec. 20, groups are eligible to apply for this employee-owned cooperatives grant if: 

  • At least one cooperative member is both
    • Currently employed as a direct care worker through a home and community based services (HCBS) business or nonprofit for people with disabilities or older adults
    • A person who earns 200 percent or less of the federal poverty level, which is based on household income and size
  • Your cooperative will provide at least one HCBS service for people with disabilities or older adults.
  • Your cooperative will have at least five members, and at least five members are not part of the same family as any other cooperative member
Required Documentation for Applicants

If your application is selected to move forward, before receiving initial funding, you will be required to submit:

  • A state or federal photo ID copy for each cooperative member
  • Documentation demonstrating that at least one member meets the eligibility requirements
  • Confirmation that each cooperative member who will be providing direct care can pass a DHS background check
  • Signatures from all cooperative members on the “We attest…” statements listed in the next section (however, only one or two members need to sign the attestations in this application to be considered for the grant)

Throughout the program, you will be required to submit:

  • Data on the cooperative member’s current work environments, including but not limited to wages and benefits, to use as a cross comparison to evaluate the success of the program
  • Data on the cooperative’s membership, business activities, revenues and profits, people served and other information to evaluate the success of the cooperative
  • A background check for each cooperative member

While a background check will not be required to start the grant project, please keep in mind that a background check is required as a part of the HCBS licensing process. Failure to pass the background check and/or subsequent failure to start a cooperative will require the grant recipients to reimburse MCCD for grant funds received. Please note that not all criminal convictions will disqualify you. Please visit this site for more specific information: Background studies / Minnesota Department of Human Services (