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Success Stories

Celebrating Cooperative Month with The Local Crowd Cooperative

Shelby Johnsen
Rural Development
TLC is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

The Local Crowd Cooperative (TLC Cooperative) has a new ring to it. Thanks to a grant from USDA Rural Development, The Local Crowd (TLC) is transitioning its organization to a national member-owned cooperative.

For nearly 10 years, The Local Crowd has worked with rural communities to support the growth and sustainability of local businesses and organizations.

“The TLC Cooperative is all about helping rural communities thrive by providing a crowdfunding tool for local businesses and nonprofits to raise funds. The cooperative model makes it truly local – with each member community able to share in the management and direction of the platform as well as the profits,” said Kim Vincent, Chief Operations Officer and Co-Founder.

TLC’s crowdfunding model encourages locals to support fundraising efforts taking place in their own community. Crowdfunding uses social media and the internet to raise funds for specific campaigns created by individuals, organizations or businesses.

USDA Rural Development provided a $40,000 Rural Business Development Grant (RBDG), allowing TLC to transition to its own online platform and website and supports the organization’s sustainability. This means The Local Crowd Cooperative will be able to focus its efforts on what matters most: supporting efforts that encourage resilient local economies where neighbors support each other’s businesses. TLC Cooperative currently operates in some northeastern and western states, including Wyoming.

Several crowdfunding campaigns have taken place in Wyoming to help non-profit organizations and small businesses. For example, United Way of Albany County in Laramie used the platform to raise money for its “Month of Caring” initiative in December 2020. The Edible Prairie Project in Gillette used crowdfunding to create a summer weekend meals program for school-aged-children. The initiative provided weekly boxes of nutritious meals to kids who may otherwise worry about where their next meal will come from on weekends during summer break.

“We are very grateful to USDA for their support throughout our journey. We have received two USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture [NIFA] SBIR [Small Business Innovation Research] grants that helped get us started ten years ago,” said Diane Sontum, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder. “The recent RBDG grant catapulted us into the cooperative space and opened a new and exciting chapter for us.”

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