Mission, Vision, & Principles

Our Mission

The North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO) Family organizes and educates affordable group equity co-ops and their members for the purpose of promoting a community-oriented cooperative movement.

Our Vision

To achieve a socially and financially responsible North American cooperative economic sector for all people and organizations interested in applying the principles and practices of cooperation.

Our Principles

Voluntary and Open Membership

Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.

Social reform! We are committed to overcoming all forms of oppression including but not limited to oppression based on race, class, sex, gender, ability, sexual orientation, age, nationality, religion, political affiliation, citizenship, level of education. We cannot claim to be voluntary and open organizations while remaining neutral in the face of systems of oppression.

Democratic Member Control

Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary cooperatives, members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote) and cooperatives at other levels are also organized in a democratic manner.

Elected managerial officers! Our member co-ops are controlled in part by members who are elected to positions of responsibility in governance as well as operations. Many of our members elect paid officers who take on management responsibilities in their house, or throughout their cooperative.

Member Economic Participation

Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the cooperative. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing their cooperative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the cooperative, and supporting other activities approved by the membership.

Universal member labor! Our member cooperatives are operated and governed with the participation of each of their members. We hold all members labor to be of equal contribution. Where possible, members’ needs are met through democratically organized production.

Autonomy and Independence

Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their cooperative autonomy.

Interdependence, not co-option! Our members benefit, from time to time, from various sources of external funding. But we never allow our organizations to become the means to some other organization’s end, be they government, private industry, or non-profit foundations.

Education, Training, and Information

Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives. They inform the general public - particularly young people and opinion leaders - about the nature and benefits of cooperation.

Experiential education! Our housing and dining co-ops lower barriers of access to higher education, and we commit to educating the public about our cooperative movement. Living in our co-ops is a transformative educational experience that creates passionate, lifelong cooperators. Members learn by receiving training to member labor, by participating in democratic processes and attending education sessions.

Cooperation among Cooperatives

Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.

Cooperative federalism! Our members are committed to Cooperative Federalism, this means we pool resources and work together in solidarity, in order to strengthen each other, and to constantly expand our movement. The members of our members feel like they belong to a North American movement for cooperation.

Concern for the Community

Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.

Social Justice! We work together with other social movement organizations to bring more justice to society in North America.

Environmental Justice! As we grow, we do so in a way that is economically and ecologically sustainable, socially just, and never at the expense of existing communities.

Economic Justice! We work together with a wide variety of social economy organizations to facilitate the transformation of the economy according to principles of justice. We envision a new economy built upon principles of local, community ownership, accountability to people not profits etc, an updated vision of a “cooperative commonwealth” as dreamed of by earlier generations of cooperators.