What is the Co-Op?
A cooperative, or co-op, is an association in which people work toward a common purpose or beneﬁt through a jointly-owned and democratically managed enterprise. In the business world, a cooperative is a way for people to meet their own needs through a company that is owned and operated by the people who use its products and services. The CCE’s student staff Co-Op is the structure through which students can guide, direct, and take joint ownership of the work of the CCE. Our goal is to equitably share voice, power, decision-making, and meaning-making of our ofﬁce with students.
In short, this is what we have been building it to become! We have been building the foundation for this current structure to exist over the past two years, where now student employees make up the backbone of all of our student programs and have a defined role in the collective visioning of the engaged work we, as a campus, participate in. The Co-Op started back in the summer of 2018, under the guidance of CCE Director Jordan Travis Radke with support of the assistant director and paraprofessional at the time, with five main coalitions: Prison Project, Refugee Alliance, Education, Political Advocacy, and Sustainable Community Development. The first two coalitions, Prison Project and Refugee Alliance, are both student organizations that served as examples for what an integrated coalition focused on a single issue-area could look like, while the last three were newly formed groups. As this was the first year of the Co-Op, the main focus was on connecting students within each designated issue-area, and on thinking through what relevant campaigns or projects could be hosted that would support the mission of the coalition.
How does the Co-Op operate within the CCE?
The Co-Op lives at the CCE, which means interns are advised by CCE staff and supported by office resources, however it is a space run primarily by students in collaboration with CC faculty and staff members, and community members. Our student interns enhance the quality of all our programs at the CCE, including student-facing work, faculty and staff engagement, and community partnership building. They are integral to our office’s functioning, for they support our ability to continue ramping up our scope of work while retaining the same level of support for all of our stakeholders.
How does the Co-Op relate to the CCE's mission?
There are four main priorities for the Co-Op, which align with our office’s strategic mission and goals. These are the main reasons this structure has been adopted by the CCE:
- Formalize student leadership and voice within the CCE staffing structure
- Support, through peer-to-peer mentorship and monetary means, student-driven and locally-centered community organizing efforts
- Create a space for collaborative efforts on the Colorado College campus
- Create a stronger intracampus network to support the connection of work at CC to beyond the campus
- Enhanced shared identity among student organizations within issue areas
- Shared and public forum for all interested individuals and groups to come together, connect with each other, learn from each other, and create with each other
- Potentially one of the following: A co-created campaign action, either internal or external; Co-created project, either white paper or event-oriented; Co-created awareness week, with multiple events, actions and that involves on- and off-campus partners; or Co-created capacity-building project where focus can be for on- and off-campus
What is the structural breakdown of the Co-Op?
There are two main components of the CCE Co-Op structure: the Board of Directors, and the Coalitions. The former consists of two Co-Directors who oversee the entire Co-Op-- the Community Engaged Fellows Co-Director and the Community Engaged Scholars & Leaders Co-Director-- as well as three Assistant Directors who report to the Co-Directors. The three Assistant Director positions are for Community Partnerships, Student Organizations, and BreakOut. While each individual member of the Board of Directors has a specific focus-area, they all collectively work together to make sure their specific constituents are connected to each other, and to the resources that each of the focus areas offers. They also collectively support the work of the Coalitions. The Issue Organizers are a group of interns who each have an issue-area coalition that they oversee on behalf of the CCE. They are designated peer facilitators and connectors for students, staff, faculty, and community partners who either want to find an on-ramp to work in that issue-area or who already have relevant events, opportunities, and knowledge that could be shared and built upon.
Why join the Co-op?
- To transform ideas about change into actions
- To sharpen skills like:
- Community organizing
- Volunteer management
- Event planning
- Public relations/communications
- Qualitative research
- To gain research experience
- Potential foundation for a senior thesis
- Ideal writing sample for certain job applications
- Useful skill for students interested in studying/working on public policy
- To access campus & community mentors
- To earn hours towards CES, CEL & CEF requirements
Martrice Ellis '21
Position: Co-Director, Community Engaged Fellowship
Bio: I have done community engagement work for my whole life. But, working as a summer intern helped me learn more of the background process that goes into the program. So, I wanted to continue doing work in the program in that way. I would really like to increase campus engagement with community work and I think the co-op would be a perfect way to do that. I also think students seeing CES/CEF engaged would increase interest. So, I would really like to help create a structure that can continue for years, rather than year to year. Lastly, I would love for the co-op to focus more on accessing community needs and fulfilling those needs based on the assets of students.
Gillian Lasher '23
Position: Co-Director, CES/CEL
Major: Environmental Studies
Bio: My primary goal is to work with nonprofits that are focused on addressing environmental issues while creating authentic community relationships. I have loved exploring this interest through my involvement with the CC Office of Sustainability, BreakOut, and a few Fort Collins-based nonprofits, such as Trees, Water & People and the Sustainable Living Association.
I look forward to building genuine connections with all CES and CEL students as we work together to develop community partnerships. It is my utmost priority to create an inclusive, equitable and welcoming space for all students and organizations as a servant leader. My life motto is to walk and lead with love, and I intend to implement this philosophy in all my work at the CCE.
Maddie Ross '22
Position: Co-Director, Community Engaged Fellowship
Bio: Growing up in the downtown area of Colorado Springs, the non-profit scope has always inspired me! Throughout middle school and high school, I had the opportunity to be involved with Pikes Peak Library District, Penrose Hospital, Leadership Pikes Peak, and Colorado Springs Teen Court. Through the Bonner program, I have been able to continue engaging with Teen Court and develop my interests in restorative justice and holistic youth development. This summer, I was grateful to be one of the Community Engaged Fellowship summer interns along with Martrice!
I am very excited to learn more about community organizing and see the power of collaboration as well as all of the incredible connections that blossom out of the coalitions! My goal is to support Bonners find meaningful engagement opportunities, foster a grounding/welcoming community that empowers one another, and highlight community engagement as a catalyst for self-development & discovery for all CC students during their time in college (even virtually!!)
Yang Huang '22
Position: Assistant Director, Student Organizations
Majors: Economics and Psychology
Bio: My experience as a co-chair of the Chinese Student Association made me realize that on-campus resources are not fully recognized by student organizations. I also noticed that many underrepresented groups are mostly invisible on campus. These experiences have led me to this position.
I look forward to offering support to student organizations and making their meaningful work visible!
Andra Metcalfe '22
Position: Assistant Director, Community Partnerships
Bio: I have always had a passion for law, politics, and social justice, but my interest in community organizing (and in sociology) was sparked by an off-campus study program I completed last fall in Minneapolis called “Inequality in America: Policy, Community, and the Politics of Empowerment.” The program was fantastic and really tuned me into the importance of organizing work and best practices. During my time in Minnesota, I worked as a public policy intern at HOME Line (a statewide tenant legal advocacy nonprofit). Since then, I have also worked as the CC volunteer coordinator with Colorado Springs food Rescue, and as a Public Interest Fellow with the Colorado Center on Law and Policy. Additionally, last summer I worked as an intern with Senator Michael Bennet’s office in Denver.
I am most looking forward to developing relationships with other students who are passionate about organizing, as well as learning and connecting with local partner organizations. More broadly, my goal is for these relationships to not only help build upon existing connections between CC students and local community organizers, but also to create new ones. I hope to encourage CC students to understand and get excited about the importance and potential of local community organizing but also be aware of best practices that allow organizing to actually be beneficial within a community.
Maddi Schink '23
Position: Assistant Director, BreakOut
Major: Environmental Studies
Bio: My name is Maddi Schink (she/hers) and I am the Assistant Director of BreakOut this year! I am currently a sophomore and am an intended Environmental Studies major and Education and Spanish minor. I am stoked to be apart of the CCE Board of Directors this year because my engagement with the CCE, and specifically the BreakOut program, was one of the highlights of my first year at CC and helped me feel more connected to my peers and the broader Colorado Springs community. I really look forward to helping other CC students explore community organizing and service in a variety of different issue areas. My goal is to make BreakOut a gateway into community engagement as a space that is welcoming and accessible and helps students find their passions. This year will certainly call for some creativity and flexibility as we reimagine community engagement through virtual platforms but I am optimistic that the CCE can continue to offer meaningful and mutually beneficial experiences for students and our partners through the Saturday and Block Break BreakOut sessions. Overall, I am looking forward to meeting all of you and working together this year because community is more important than ever!
Yajie (Angelina) Chen '22
Issue: Gender & Sexuality
Bio: I grew up in Guangzhou (a city where the best food in China exists), and went to high school in Shenzhen to study A-Level courses. Sociology, Spanish and theater were my favorites but my major at CC is still undecided. I enjoy hiking and doing farm stays, so environmental science might be a fit too. In terms of community service and engagement, I’ve been an activist and volunteer in the fields of education, sustainability, feminism and LGBTQ+. I also worked with both local and international NGOs, schools, sociologists and anthropologists in China. I'm a huge fan of post rock and indie, and I listen to a little bit of everything in different languages. My favorite bands are Sigur Rós, Arcade Fire, mol-74 and Beach House.
Denise Geronimo '24
Issue: Criminal Justice (aligns with Prison Project)
Bio: Hey, everyone! I’m Denise Geronimo, and I am from Memphis, Tennessee. I have lived in Memphis for all 18 years of my life, and I’m a biased, but it’s the best city around. Both of my parents moved to Tennessee from the Philippines to pursue their careers, but neither of them decided to teach me their language (I’m only a little bitter.) Throughout high school, I participated in the worldwide organization Facing History and Ourselves as a facilitator and an ambassador, working with other students to promote conversations within our community about low-voter turnouts, gun violence, and youth incarcerations. I also engaged in community service through BRIDGES USA, a Memphis, youth-led organization, and volunteered at the Madonna Learning Center, a wonderful special needs school. I’m interested in studying International Relations, and my hobbies include biking, kickboxing, and unhealthy binge-watching.
Wiktoria Grzech '23
Issue: Health & Accessibility
Misbah Lakhani '24
Issue: Racial Equity (liaison with CAL, the Collective for Anti-Racism & Liberation)
Laila Marshall '21
Issue: K-12 Education
Major: International Political Economics
Bio: Hello everyone! My name is Laila and I am a senior International Political Economy major and the issue organizer for K-12 Education. I use she/her/hers pronouns. I am originally from Seattle, Washington, where I attended public schools for the majority of my education. Throughout those years my dad also worked for the public schools, which meant I was exposed to the inner workings and complications of an urban school system. When I arrived at CC I applied that passion and knowledge to work at Mitchell High School through the 32% Club and tutoring at Bristol Elementary with early scholars. I hope that through this work with the CCE I can forge deeper personal and institutional relationships with the Colorado Springs education community, because I believe that as a powerful entity that educates and unites young people, we have an inherent and essential connection to children's rights in our area.
Elena Martinez-Vivot '21
Issue: Political Advocacy
Major: Political Science
Bio: Hi everyone. My name is Elena and I use she/her pronouns. I am a Senior Political Science major and French minor. As a Colorado Springs native, I'm super passionate about bridging the gap between the CC community and the city. There is so much we can do to effect change at the local level and I strongly believe in the power of grassroots organizing. As the Political Advocacy organizer I hope to increase voter turnout for students and get folks for engaged in municipal politics.
Willik Mir '23
Issue: Poverty & Inequity
Bio: Hello everyone! My name is Willik, and I use he/him pronouns. I'm a sophomore currently trying to decide between Environmental Science or OBE for a major, but either way I'm minoring in music as well. Given CC's financial demographics, and my status as both a Questbridge match and a Bridge Scholar, Poverty and Inequity is an issue that is deeply personal to me. I have some leadership and volunteer experience in a wide variety of community service and organizing settings, and I can't wait to work with you all at the intersections of our different issues!
Emma Olsen '21
Issue: Youth Organizing (Public Achievement)
Bio: Hi everyone! My name is Emma, and my pronouns are she/her. I am a senior majoring in English and minoring in Education, and I am the Youth Organizing issue organizer this year. I am in my third year of involvement in the Public Achievement program at CC, and am so excited to lead an amazing group of coaches and team leads. In a normal year, we work with groups of students at North Middle School to identify issues that they care about in their schools and communities, and organize to design and implement projects that address those issues. Since we can't meet with students for the time being, we will be working this year on developing our training and curriculum internally. PA and social justice education mean a lot to me, as they can help combat the systemic injustices in our education system, honor students' identities and ideas for change, and prepare them for lifelong community engagement. I'm looking forward to working with you all!
Peniel Owusu-Ansah '24
Issue: Immigrant & Refugee Justice Coalition (aligns with Refugee Alliance)
Major: Political Science and Sociology
Bio: Hello everyone! My name is Peniel Owusu-Ansah (she/her). I am currently a freshman, and I intend to double major in Political Science and Sociology. I was born and raised in a West African country called Ghana, and I moved to the United States several years ago. I have been involved in several advocacy groups, including being an ambassadorship with the Colorado Crisis Services. The reason I want to lead this coalition is because of my background as an immigrant. I believe my experience and insight can be used as a resource to create opportunities to interact and help this community. I hope that this coalition will assist immigrants and refugees in having an easier transition to a new culture and country.
Cecilia Timberg '24
Issue: Environment & Ecology
Major: Organismal Biology and Ecology
Bio: Hi everyone! My name is Cecilia Timberg and I am a first year intending to major in Organismal Biology and Ecology. I have a passion for making environmental stewardship accessible, enjoyable, and a mutualistic experience between the Earth and its stewards. Working with conservation corps, student led organizations, and as an environment educator, I have seen firsthand the power an interaction with the environment has to transform a person’s life. I look forward to bringing that frame of mind to all of the work I do with the Co-Op!