The North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO) Family [of associations] organizes and educates affordable group equity co-ops and their members for the purpose of promoting a community oriented cooperative movement.
Since 1968, NASCO and its affiliates have been working with students, worker-owners, activists, and community members who are interested in applying cooperative principles to meet their needs and fulfill their various missions. NASCO provides education and technical assistance to its members and co-op organizing groups, assists its members in communicating with each other, acts to educate the public on cooperative principles and practices, and promotes the co-op movement as a whole.
NASCO acts to link group equity cooperatives, primarily but not solely in the housing sector, and sees as its most important goal the improvement of operations through mutual aid and support. NASCO provides numerous opportunities for member co-ops to improve their operations through learning from other cooperatives. These linking opportunities include the Cooperative Education and Training Institute (NASCO Institute), the Staff and Managers Conference, Anti-Oppression Education, the Co-op Voices Blog, the NASCO Directory of Members, the NASCO website, and the NASCO Cooperative Internship Network. NASCO also provides direct services through on-site workshops, consulting contracts, organizational and financial advice, co-op development, compiling information on tax exemption, and other activities. NASCO additionally rescues co-ops from certain doom on a semi-regular basis.
In the late 1980s, two affiliated groups were created: the Campus Cooperative Development Corporation (CCDC) and NASCO Properties (NP). CCDC, now known as NASCO Development Services, works with local groups and with NP to develop new co-ops, assist with financing and refinancing of projects, and to provide assistance for small co-ops who could not otherwise afford to have staff of their own. NP purchases and holds title to properties which are then leased by local cooperatives. A third affiliate, Lots in Common (LINC), was added in 2004. LINC is a joint venture title holding company formed in partnership with Riverton Community Housing. The current partners in LINC are NASCO and the Qumbya Cooperative.
Guidelines by which cooperatives put their values into practice:
- Voluntary and open membership
- Democratic member control
- Member economic participation
- Autonomy and independence
- Education, training and information
- Cooperation among cooperatives
- Concern for community
*The Co-op Principles as listed here are the most recent list as adopted by the International Cooperative Alliance in 1995.