CDF’s Cooperative Education Fund will offer small grants to individuals interested in conducting research to identify and provide documentation for nominations of individuals from groups of people whose work and achievements in advancing cooperatives have gone unrecognized.

Research will be used to nominate and advocate for the next Unsung Cooperative Hero. Researchers will be required to advocate for their nominee to the year’s Hall of Fame selection committee comprised of cooperative leaders from all sectors. If the nominee is chosen for induction into the Cooperative Hall of Fame, the researcher will receive a ticket to attend the ceremony. There will also be up to two tickets available for family members of the inductee.

Who may apply: Preference will be given to students associated with or supported by cooperatives or cooperative organizations. Grants are only available for organizations in the United States.

Review process: Applications will be reviewed by a committee and approved by the CDF Board of Directors. Applications should have some information to indicate how and why the research will help inform the Unsung Hero nomination process.

Recipient obligation: The recipient must complete the research and present research materials and nomination packets in support of their nominee by September 2. The recipient will also advocate for their nominee before the Hall of Fame selection committee later in the year.

Applications due on February 2. Applicants will be notified of their status by February 16. If awarded, research and nomination packets are due on September 2.

About the Cooperative Hall of Fame and Unsung Heroes

Established in 1974 by the National Cooperative Business Association, the Cooperative Hall of Fame is administered by the Cooperative Development Foundation (CDF) and serves to honor those distinguished individuals whose contributions to cooperative business have been genuinely heroic. Inductees are limited to a prestigious group carefully selected to preserve the nature of this distinction. Nominations are received annually by a selection committee (appointed by the chair of the CDF Board of Directors). The nominees selected are presented to the Board of Directors of the National Cooperative Business Association for approval and induction into the Cooperative Hall of Fame. For more information, see

In 2021, the CDF Board approved the addition of a process to honor as inductees into the Hall of Fame individuals who were members of groups that have been historically overlooked. Referred to as Unsung Heroes, the nominees selected through this process, no more than one per year, will be inducted alongside and with the same level of recognition as those selected through the traditional Hall of Fame process. To be eligible for consideration as an Unsung Hero:

  • The individual’s contributions to cooperative practice, for the most part, were made before the Hall of Fame began in 1974, and
  • The individual comes from a group of people whose work and achievements have historically been unrecognized and even suppressed.

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