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Co-ops In Schools Program


The Co-ops in School Program (CIS) links the BC co-operative community with university and high school students in a unique tri-mentorship and professional development relationship. 

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What Is Tri-mentorship?
CIS Roles
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BCCA’s Co-ops in Schools Program (“CIS”) is a youth outreach program that runs each school year in selected regions of British Columbia. CIS utilizes an innovative tri-mentorship model that links the co-operative sector with universities and high schools.CIS raises youth participation in — and awareness of — the co-operative economy by providing youth with professional development, career insight, skills and knowledge. CIS also gives professionals working in the co-op sector the opportunity to get directly and personally involved in this process.

The program utilzes co-op and credit union professionals as "mentors" to university students.  The post-secondary "mentees" then interact with high schools through extra-curricular Co-op Clubs.Co-ops and credit unions become closer to their communities and develop stronger relationships with area schools. Post-seondary students develop new skills and a deeper understanding of co-operatives. High schools students develop new skills and take part in activities that enrich their knowledge of co-op businesses.

Co-ops In Schools

  • Connects co-op and credit union leaders with motivated university students through a formalized mentor/mentee relationship, and
  • Connects university students with high school students through activities undertaken during extra-curricular “Co-op Clubs” using the most current approaches to education.

The CIS program has been an overwhelming success. BCCA offers its sincere appreciation to our sponsors, mentors, mentees and high school Co-op Club participants.


  1. To increase high school students’ understanding of co-operative enterprise; To provide them with valuable resources and skills to succeed in their future plans; To offer a bridge to post-secondary studies; And to give them inspiration and advice through working with students just a few years ahead.
  2. To increase post secondary students’ understanding of co-operative enterprise; To provide them with valuable resources and skills to succeed in their future plans; To offer a bridge to the working world; To allow them to practice managing a team; To help them become future leaders and influencers in the social economy; And to give them inspiration and advice in their career development.
  3. To give co-operative organizations and sector professionals the opportunity to give back to the community by mentoring post-secondary students while making valuable contacts to the next generation of workers and consumers.
  4. To strengthen and unite the BC co-operative sector. To expand and create community engagement, deepen co-op awareness, and to increase membership. To build the co-op economy in all regions of the province.


Tri-mentorship is when a mentee in one relationship becomes a mentor in another relationship – often to a peer or a younger person. Effective tri-mentorship results in learning in both directions.


MENTOR: A working professional from a local credit union or co-operative business, partnered with a local post-secondary school from October to April. The mentor is responsive to the learning needs of his/her mentee, meets virtually or in person with the mentee at least monthly and attends specific events during the program. (Optional: The mentor may choose to expand the mentorship beyond the original scope or length of the CIS program.)

MENTEE: A student from a partnered post-secondary school. These students receive basic training from BCCA about co-operative enterprise and mentoring. Mentees work in teams to coach student clubs from a partnered high school weekly. Most importantly, the mentee benefits from 1:1 mentorship from a mentor to support their own professional development as well as guidance from the BCCA Youth Program Manager on working with the high school club.

STUDENT: A student from a partnered high school. By participating in a school “Co-op Club”, the student learns about co-operative enterprise and philosophy from the post-secondary mentee through hands-on activities. and explores the world of business through the lens of co-operation.

TEACHER: A teacher from a partnered high school who is the signing authority for a school club. The club typically meets in this teacher’s classroom. The teacher-sponsor may choose his/her level of involvement in the club’s activities.

SPONSOR:  A co-operative or credit union which has undertaken to financially sponsor the CIS program in a mutually-negotiated region of BC and to provide mentors. The sponsor is typically a member of BCCA. (Non-members may participate, subject to availability.)

PARTNER: A co-operative or credit union which provides in-kind or financial support to the CIS program. Examples include contributing a case study, participating in the Co-op Crawl, judging the case study competition, contributing prizes or being accessible as a Co-op Expert.

BCCA: BCCA staff, led by the Youth Program Manager, organize and administer the CIS program and activities, guide mentors, support mentees, and interact with the Co-op Clubs.



Contact Tasha Nathanson
BCCA Youth Program Manager
604.662.3906 ex. 4