Virginia Institute on Cooperative Education

Virginia Institute on Cooperative Education (VICE)

Each spring, VCC sponsors the Virginia Institute on Cooperative Education, a leadership conference to educate high school juniors and seniors about cooperatives and the co-op form of business through interactive instruction that includes a live simulation, “Who’s Minding the Store?” Students gain teamwork, leadership, and communication skills, with top performers having the opportunity to receive up to $2,000 in educational scholarships.

Graves Mountain Lodge hosts the annual VICE conference. Students participate in team competition to run cooperative businesses. In doing so, they learn how to making marketing and financial decisions and interpret the results of their decisions through operating statements and financial reports. Participants also enjoy organized games and activities and delicious meals.

Next year’s event is March 21-23, 2025 at Graves Mountain Lodge, with the 2025 VICE Application due by February 14, 2025. Student applicants are required to choose a cooperative business in Virginia and contact a staff member to learn more about the size and operation of this cooperative in their community. To be considered for college scholarships, students will complete a test based on the “Welcome to Cooperatives” manual and be evaluated on participation in activities during VICE, including the “Who’s Minding the Store” team simulation.

VICE evaluations consistently report that students find the conference fun and educational. They often write that they came to the conference knowing nothing about co-ops but leave with a fullerĀ  appreciation of this unique business form. They also provide positive feedback on the opportunity to make new friends and enjoy great food in a scenic rural setting. In recent years, 100% of participants said they would recommend VICE to a friend.