108 Year Old Roof Replaced for Free During DC Solar Installation at Randall Memorial UMC

Team members of CPA Co-op recently had the chance to meet with leaders of Randall Memorial to learn more about their deep roots in Northeast DC as well as their 108 year old roof that was (not surprisingly) leaking and in need of constant repair after a century of use. 

Randall Memorial United Methodist Church was founded in June of 1912 in Northeast DC. Standing in their beautiful sanctuary, one cannot help but imagine the thousands of worship services, meals, acts of kindness, choral concerts, assemblies that have taken place under their roof.

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New Life in A Broken Economy: A Strategy Input Session on Organizing, Finance, and CPA’s Future 

Last month CPA Co-op executive director Felipe Witchger hosted a strategy input session on how to breathe new life into a broken economy. Felipe set the stage for the call by sharing CPA Co-op’s success adding value on contract decisions for organizations who work together to tackle ambitious, mission-aligned economic actions. These actions position CPA to help community institutions writ large to think about all of their economic transactions, and integrate their values and mission and purpose into not just their purchasing, but also their real estate and their investing. Felipe brought together representatives from stakeholders across the country: co-op organizing and finance, credit unions and church mutuals, national co-op organizations and new start-ups, to explore this new economy. What follows is a series of highlights from this conversation. 

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CPA Staff on Air

The Community Purchasing Alliance is starting to capture the attention of conferences and radio outlets from across the country. Here’s an incomplete list of all the speaking engagements and interviews we have coming up as well as recordings of those that have already happened:

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Lauren Greenspan
Aging HVAC Systems: To Repair or Replace, That is the Question!

I’ve heard some nightmarish HVAC tales, stories of success, and mostly lots of frustration, confusion, and anxiety around dealing with a building’s costliest and most complex systems.

These stories stem from the people who run many of our CPA member organizations - church administrators, school-based facility managers, and synagogue Executive Directors. They’ve been telling me about how they approach preventative maintenance (quarterly checkups vs. wait til it breaks), the ups and downs of service tech quality (some are trustworthy while others needed to be babysat), and how a new $2 Million system never worked quite right (and still doesn’t).

What I’ve learned that impressed me the most is that many have done an incredible job keeping old systems operating for decades, through a combination of regular maintenance, emergency repairs, and a little bit of duct tape and prayer.

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CPA’s Future: A Strategy Input Session

As CPA deepens its investment in the DC region and continues to look to growth in new regions, we convened a group of inspiring partners and entrepreneurial strategists interacting with the church and co-op sectors today. In a recent video call, our Executive Director, Felipe Witchger, reached out to colleagues across disciplines to do just that.

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We purchased $373,367 of electricity together in Connecticut

The industry has changed - too many suppliers will offer a low price, only to pass-through overcharges later on. CPA rigorously vets suppliers by analyzing the utility bills of hundreds of organizations to see how suppliers perform.  Through this process, CPA is committed to achieving not just savings, but reliability. Constellation is one of a handful of suppliers CPA has pre-qualified to work with the Cooperative based on the strength of their contract, their observed business practices and their overall commitment to transparency and reliability. 

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Lauren Greenspan
Anchor Institutions and the Purchasing Co-op

With the recent Amazon HQ2 bidding wars, it is clear cities need a more thoughtful approach to local economic development. As more nonprofits consider what a deliberate approach to re-making the economy might look like, we want to offer our community purchasing co-op model as a complement to the growing work of universities and hospitals trying to refocus on local, equitable economic development.

Last year over 100 small anchor institutions in Washington DC purchased $16.7 million of goods & services through the Community Purchasing Alliance Cooperative (CPA), with almost $10 million going to minority owned businesses.

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Property Savvy or No?

Is it your full time job to manage a facility? Perhaps you have years of experience behind you, and you feel confident in your property know-how. OR maybe you are like Rev. Martha Clark at St. Augustine’s Episcopal in DC. She told our ED Felipe last week that at her church “none of us are property savvy at all.”

Click the video below to hear Rev. Clark share her testimonial of working with on of our preferred vendors.

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Sign or don’t sign?

Time was tight. Sign or don’t sign? The organization that would soon become the Community Purchasing Alliance (CPA) had just emailed a draft contract that would save twelve religious institutions over $100,000 on their annual energy bills. The congregations had two hours to review and sign.

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Lauren Greenspan
A note of solidarity

Dear Friends, Members, Colleagues & CPA community,

When I was growing up, acts of mass violence and hate felt far away and infrequent. This week's violence, with the horrific shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday, hits closer to home.

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Felipe Witchger