Updated 2020-11-10

Cottonwood Cooperative, NYC

A learning cooperative where education is community-focused, democratic, nature-inspired, and project/play-based.
Madelyn Zins & Katri Inkilainen co-directors
click to see email
(+1) 443-465-5877
203 Driggs Ave
Brooklyn, NY  11222
United States
NYC, New York


“At Cottonwood students, facilitators and other involved community members are free to explore, tinker, dabble and invent. We share ideas and interests, set intentions and collaborate to fulfill them. We solve problems together, ask questions to understand, and find solutions to help one another towards achievement. We support one another’s freedom, showing empathy and respect for all people, places and things.”

SDE Optimizing Conditions

ASDE surveys all SDE communities/programs about how they provide, enhance, or align with each of the Six Optimizing Conditions for young people to succeed in SDE.  Survey answers:
  1. Responsibility – We have structures that support learners to choose how they want to spend their time each day and which support them to share their learning with others
  2. Youth Autonomy – We start with this outdoors each day and adjust when moving inside to do so within the boundaries of what is safe for our space and set those boundaries with all learners’ voices being heard in the process
  3. Access to Tools and Technology – All of what we might use at school is available to all learners so long as they use them in ways that are respectful (not destroying or tarnishing them, and if it happens, fixing or replacing them)
  4. Adult Allies – We call our staff Facilitators, and they support the learning process with questions from deep listening and care rather than from cohersion or judgment
  5. Free Age Mixing – We have ages 3-8 (plus staff!) playing and learning together at all times they are present for the day
  6. Community – We are a cooperative and every member (children, facilitators, parents/families) has some voice in how the school runs, and those voices and values are shared in respectful, democratic processes

If any information about this resource is out of date, please let us know.