About Us

About the program

The Co-operative Minds program is an education tool developed by the Ontario Co-operative Association, in partnership with The Co-operators. Co-operative Minds was created to provide educators with a tool to inspire and engage students through experiential learning across Ontario, by giving them the opportunity to solve a real problem for a co-operative business in their community.

Our team of creators includes Ontario certified teachers, as well as educators and consultants working in the co-operative business sector. Co-operative Minds uses the principles of integrative learning to inspire creative collaboration, encourage resilience and prepare students for the challenge of solving problems in their lives both professionally and personally.

Every problem is a learning experience, both inside and outside the classroom. A student can learn all the knowledge from a certain course or subject, and applying this knowledge creates a deeper learning experience. Project-based learning allows for students to reach beyond the classroom and take control of what they are learning, thereby creating confident, self-directed learners.

Why we do what we do

"Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember,                               involve me and I learn."                          

 -Benjamin Franklin

Real world problem-solving requires flexibility, resilience, resourcefulness and creativity. The Co-operative Minds program gives students an opportunity to make what they learn more meaningful, while developing strategies they will be able to use to solve problems in the future.

We recognize that there is a clear alignment between the values of co-operative businesses and citizenship goals in schools, and we believe there is a wealth of opportunities for co-operatives across all business sectors to provide dynamic and authentic learning opportunities for young people.

How it works


Register to get free, unlimited access to our integrative and project-based teaching tool. Lead your students on a dynamic and experiential learning journey to solve real-world challenges submitted by co-operative businesses in your community.

Co-operatives and Credit Unions

We are seeking "challenge partners" to bring co-operative learning to classrooms across Ontario.  All you need is a small team of enthusiastic staff, and a problem that's important to your organization, your members or your community.

Outside the classroom

The Co-operative Minds program is available for youth programming and provides opportunities to teach transferable skills, leadership and team-building, while connecting youth with co-operative community partners.

Our Co-operative Minds Team

Our Testimonials

Brett Manlow

Teacher at Centennial Secondary School, Belleville, Ontario

“Doing the Co-operative Minds challenge with Ontario Co-operative Association was like seeing butterflies come out of their cocoon. An authentic challenge like this one was a great opportunity for students to safely take a risk and stretch them out of their comfort zone as they problem solved a real challenge facing CYL. The process was clearly laid out and easy to facilitate. I was impressed with the student’s ability to take on other perspectives and build empathy for players involved in the program. When it came to presenting to the organization I couldn’t believe how great the students were at pitching their solution and clearly explaining their thinking. I highly recommend this for anyone who wants an authentic challenge that will build student confidence and develop leadership skills they can carry with them.”

Carol Fleming

Director, Co-operative Young Leaders Camp

“Facilitating and participating in the Co-operative Minds program this summer was fun, insightful and a wonderful opportunity to work with youth.  Co-operative Minds is an interactive and guided learning program for youth with an emphasis on problem solving.  A real life challenge is presented and youth are asked to use their imagination and think outside of the box to solve the challenge. The process is clearly defined and all participants were eager to take on the challenge and share their thoughts and ideas with others.  I am very happy to add the Co-operative Minds program to the CYL curriculum for all of our participants and facilitators next summer.” 

Jake Elliott
Digital Marketing Coordinator,
Libro Credit Union

"As a facilitator, the program was simple to learn and a joy to facilitate. The program proved to be a testament to the talent and capabilities of young people pursuing careers in the co-operative sector. Libro Credit Union has always been supporters of the Ontario Co-operative Association and Co-operative Youth Leaders programming, as it provides us with exceptional opportunities to connect with and inspire future credit union leaders. The Co-operative minds program is integral to the future successes and growth of the co-operative sector through its efforts in cultivating the interest and talents of today’s younger generations.  This in turn, provides us with the opportunity to inspire this fantastic source of potential to think of solutions to the problems facing their generation in cooperative ways. For these reasons, we highly encourage the engagement of all other co-operative businesses to support this program and assist in inspiring a brighter, more collaborative future."

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