About Riverwest Co-op Grocery & Cafe
Riverwest Co-op is a natural food Co-op and cafe based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the Riverwest neighborhood. The Co-op opened its doors to the public in 2001 with a few dozen items and after three years were able to expand and hire their first employee to complement their volunteer staff. In 2004 the Riverwest Co-op Cafe opened, which serves vegetarian and vegan options that use the same local, organic ingredients that are sold in the Co-op.
Riverwest Co-op is dedicated to providing the community with nutritious, wholesome food and supporting local producers along the way. The Co-op supports organic farming, urban agriculture, workers' rights, environmental sustainability, and equality. Riverwest Co-op is community-based, run by volunteers, and is member-owned. The Co-op is a grocery store and cafe, providing a genuinely welcoming community and attribute their success to a business model that is focused on people.
Vince Bushell, a Board Member and one of the Founding members of Riverwest Co-op says, “The Co-op is important to the Riverwest community for a number of factors. It started out as a grassroots effort for people that wanted quality food and more importantly for a place where people can come together, meet, and share our lives.”
UWM Students Bring Solar to Riverwest Co-op
The RE-volv Solar Ambassador Fellows at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) played an instrumental role in bringing solar to the Riverwest Co-op. The Solar Ambassadors reached out to the Co-op to let them know about the opportunity, ran a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to pay for the up-front costs of bringing solar to the Riverwest Co-op and also ran a community engagement campaign to help educate the local community about the importance of renewable energy.
Through the Solar Ambassador Fellowship, the UWM students gained hands-on experience bringing solar to a local Co-op, gained leadership and project management experience, and learned about solar energy, finance, and technology.
Community Effort to Solarize Riverwest Co-op
Riverwest Co-op went solar for $0 down and will save more than $22,000 off the cost of their electricity bills over the life of the system. Riverwest Co-op can use these savings to continue to provide healthy food that is financially accessible to people in the neighborhood.
Overtime, Riverwest will pay back RE-volv for the cost of their solar system through a solar lease, where Riverwest will be saving on average 15% per month off their electricity bills. Through a crowdfunding campaign, more than 85 donors donated to this campaign to bring solar to Riverwest Co-op. Thanks to the generosity of the 11th Hour Project, we were able to match every donation dollar for dollar!