The funds will be used by Trebor Scholz, founder and director of the consortium, and his colleagues to advance the economic development of cooperatives in the digital economy, with a focus on the Platform Co-op Development Kit and other open-source tools that support platform co-ops working in sectors such as child care, elder care, home services, and recycling. According to school officials, platform co-ops are websites or apps that are owned and democratically governed by workers and/or users.
"This grant is a big win for the cooperative movement and for platform co-op pioneers all over the world," said Scholz, who is leading the initiative in collaboration with the Inclusive Design Research Center at OCAD University in Toronto. "Th[e] kit will make it easier to start and run platform co-ops. It will also provide an interactive map of the co-op ecosystem and essential community-edited resources. Google.org has provided funding to develop the kit, which will combine the research of the PCC and the practical knowledge of the thriving platform co-op community with the inclusive design and development strengths of the IDRC. But to build out this critically important and timely project into further territories and sectors, additional funding will be needed."
The grant also will enable Scholz and PCC to engage other leading organizations committed to creating jobs with fair pay and good working conditions for diverse populations working in the digital economy. By applying the cooperative model to digital labor, the kit is expected to offer an alternative to the often extractive on-demand digital economy.
"Ownership of the Web is increasingly centralized in the hands of a few companies," said Mark Surman, CEO of Mozilla. "Projects like the Platform Co-op Development Kit give us the power to change that."