A cooperative is a not for profit organization:

Organized under IRC section 501 (c) 12
Owned and controlled by its members
Provides tax-advantaged dividends to members

History

The first cooperative in the US was formed by Benjamin Franklin in 1750.  It was a mutual insurance and banking society in Philadelphia.

Agricultural organizations formed cooperatives in the nineteenth century, some of which continue to operate today.  The Niwot Grange is an example.

In the 1930's and 1940's large utility companies refused to provide services in many areas, including Niwot.  Electric cooperative and telephone cooperatives were organized to provide services.  Some Niwot residents still purchase electricity from Poudre Valley REA.

Supporting Organizations

Several organizations that are supporting the Niwot Telecommunications Cooperative include:

United States Department of Agriculture
University of Colorado Credit Union
Niwot Community Association