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The Black Liberation Cooperative Academy (BLCA) is a 10-session program for New Orleans’ Black workers, organizers, community leaders, entrepreneurs and families to share in learning, lift up Black cooperative history, create our own economic opportunities, meet collective needs, and develop successful collaborative economic practices.

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Applications for the 2021 BLCA cohort are now closed.

Program Details

This program is organized by the Cooperation New Orleans Loan Fund.

Program Dates:

  • ​Saturday October 23, 2021  Welcome to Black Liberation Cooperative Academy

  • Saturday November 6, 2021 Remembering and Reclaiming Cooperativism as a Black Technology Pt. 1 

  • Saturday November 20, 2021 Remembering and Reclaiming Cooperativism as a Black Technology Pt. 2 

  • Saturday December 4, 2021 Dreaming Beyond Racial Capitalism 

  • Saturday December 18, 2021 Worker Ownership & Democratic Governance, Presentations 

  • Saturday January 8, 2022 Decision-Making & Business Model Canvas 

  • Saturday January 15, 2022 Group Presentations 1

  • Saturday January 29 2022 Group Presentations 2 

  • Saturday February 12, 2022 Non-Extractive Loan Fund & Technical Assistance Labs

  • Saturday February 19, 2022 Closing & Celebration

Questions? email

program etails

Goals and Curriculum 

How can we as black people create our own economic systems that provide us the opportunities to take care of our families? What can we learn from our ancestors about creating a sustainable livelihood for our families outside of a capitalist economic system that was never designed for black people to survive let alone thrive? Together we will explore cooperative economics as a path toward black liberation in New Orleans and beyond.

In BCLA we will:

  • Learn cooperative business development and business management skills

  • Connect with our cultural histories of cooperative economics and its connection to black liberation

  • Understand and share our needs with one another 

  • Share knowledge of tools for trade and alternative economies such as cooperativism, mutual aid, social aid and pleasure clubs, susus and bartering

  • Build a shared analysis of the capitalist system and local economic and political system, visioning what is needed to transform the post-Katrina New Orleans economy 

Tentative Program Dates:

Saturday October 16, 2021 Welcome to Black Liberation Cooperative Academy

Saturday October 23, 2021  Remembering and Reclaiming Cooperativism as a Black Technology Pt. 1 (in-person)

Saturday November 6, 2021 Remembering and Reclaiming Cooperativism as a Black Technology Pt. 2

Saturday November 20, 2021 Dreaming Beyond Racial Capitalism 

Saturday December 4, 2021 Worker Ownership & Democratic Governance, Presentations

Saturday December 18, 2021 Decision-Making & Business Model Canvas

Saturday January 8, 2022 Group Presentations 1

Saturday January 15, 2022 Group Presentations 2

Saturday January 29 2022 Non-Extractive Loan Fund & Technical Assistance Labs

Saturday February 12, 2022 Closing & Celebration


BLCA is a unique program that centers the rich history of Black entrepreneurship and community development in New Orleans as a space to build upon the shared knowledge, experiences and expertise of participants. We encourage individuals and groups with business ideas to use this space to develop concrete business skills and an understanding of group dynamics to advance their project as a worker-owned cooperative. Our intention is that BLCA participants will be inspired and resourced to build a strong cooperative economy in New Orleans and beyond.


Meet Our Facilitators

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Tamah Yisrael

Toya Lewis

Sian Miranda Singh ÓFaoláin

Lila Arnaud

Tamah Yisrael

Tamah Yisrael is a Project Officer with Cooperation New Orleans and the Chief Solutions Officer of  TMH Financial Services LLC  providing business development, bookkeeping and management services to small businesses, nonprofits and social impact enterprises in the Greater New Orleans Area.  As Executive Director of Builders of the Highway Foundation, a national nonprofit, merging the Neo Jazz School of Music under its umbrella, developed a Cultural Community Center and organized a national outreach network. Also, a partner and Business Manager of Yisrael Records Inc. an independent record label producer of jazz and contemporary music as well as management of local artists such as the Yisrael Trio. 

She advocates for culture, social justice, and strategies to develop cooperatives and collaboration. She served as the President of the board of directors for the New Orleans Food Co-op for 4 years and is a member of Cooperation New Orleans. Additionally, she has been recognized by the Metro Birmingham NAACP’s Salute to Outstanding African American for her contributions to the culture and to the youth of the community. She is also a graduate of the Foundation for Louisiana’s TOGETHER Initiative LEAD Community Training Program, the UNO Community Development Finance program, Cooperation Works Art and Science of Co-op Development. She continues to serve the community on various committees and working groups to build a more equitable society.  Her goal for the Black Co-op Academy is to connect, share and learn with leaders on Cooperative Economic practices to co-create an ecosystem to meet the needs of the people of the community.

Toya Lewis

 Toya Lewis (anything said in love) is an Organizer, facilitator and extremely proud New Orleans native dedicated to building a more harm reductive world by facilitating people in owning and accounting for and utilizing their power to grow their better selves and a better world through popular education and somatic led commitment and intentional practice birthing. With a background in workplace and community strategic campaign organizing development, Toya experienced working with people on a large spectrum including Black workers, organizers, advocates, lawyers, artists, and  political decision makers. From living with the identity as a Black queer woman, to completing trainings with (BOLD) Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity, Emergent Strategies, Jobs with Justice, the People’s Institute and the Organizing institute, Toya is equipped to hold a body of folks willing and ready to consent to a somatic process led facilitation or training. Toya will offer the Black Liberation CoOp academy a digestible and enjoyable way to consume knowledge needed to live and build cooperatively.

Sian Miranda Singh ÓFaoláin

 Sian (she/her) is a mother and a fundraiser & organizer in movements for economic justice and racial justice. Raised in upstate New York and Atlanta, Sian is grateful for the people of New Orleans and noticing that making/finding her home in New Orleans is bringing her closer to her African and Taíno Caribbean roots. For Sian, cooperation is about sharing resources, knowing that people have the capacity and brilliance to work together to address any challenges we face with creativity and joy. Shifting the economy to one that is people-centered in this time and place means we must center and invest in the leadership of working class Black New Orleanians. Sian has been involved with building Cooperation New Orleans since 2019 and is supporting BLCA as a member of the facilitation team and as a member of the Resource Mobilization working group. 

Lila Arnaud

Lila is excited to build community and support with tech and good vibes at this year’s first Black Liberation Co-op Academy. Like many of us, Lila learned the importance of sharing and caring for one’s community from her mother, Lidia, an educator and cooperativistx who worked to develop cooperatives in the Dominican Republic in the 1970’s and 80’’s. 


Raised in the cooperative principles, Lila approaches her work as an educator and public health practitioner through the lens of a cooperativistx. Lila has over 10 years of experience in facilitating, developing and implementing community education programs in Louisiana; and is a proud member of the BanchaLenguas Language Justice Collective and Cooperation New Orleans Steering Committee.

Lila’s intention for this year’s academy is to continue to learn and celebrate the ways in which descendants of black and indigenous people engage in cooperative economies in order to provide for their families in spite of an unwelcoming and oppressive capitalist system. 

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