The North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO) family organises and educates affordable group equity cooperatives and their members for the purpose of promoting a community-oriented cooperative movement.
Since 1968, NASCO has been working with students, housing cooperatives, worker-owners, activists, and community members who are interested in applying cooperative principles to meet their needs and fulfil their missions. Comprised of 50 member cooperatives representing over 4,000 cooperators, NASCO educates and organises an emerging generation of cooperators. NASCO is the network that facilitates mutual aid and support amongst cooperatives.
In the spring of 1968, participants in a conference sponsored by the University of Michigan Inter-Cooperative Council proposed the organisation of a group “for the purpose of expanding the cooperative movement across college campuses.” That fall, a group gathered in Chicago to organize NASCO. NASCO’s creation in 1968 meant that, for the first time in 20 years, student cooperatives began working together towards their common interests.
NASCO began its work almost immediately on cooperative development. Through a strong lobbying effort, student cooperaitves were able to get the federal government to allow the College Housing Program to make loans directly to them. These 3%, 30-40 year term loans allowed student cooperatives to be built in Berkeley, Los Angeles, Ann Arbor, Minneapolis, and Austin. The creation of NASCO also added momentum to the strong student cooperative development activity in Canada.
During this time of federally funded expansion and throughout its early years, NASCO’s annual conferences provided the organisational initiative and support for many student cooperatives. The inspiration for new cooperatives, and the ideas to improve the operations of ones that already were established, were generated at these conferences, providing the “ideological” support to effectively utilise the government loans. In addition, these early NASCO conferences helped organize many of the “new wave” food cooperatives.
In the fall of 1977, NASCO’s regional conferences were replaced by NASCO’s Cooperative Education and Training Institute, again providing affordable, essential inspiration and training for student cooperators. As with the smaller regional conferences, NASCO Institute served and continues to serve today, as a place for education, inspiration, and ideas. Attendees learn from one another and from the workshop presenters from across the continent.
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There are 3 million Cooperatives worldwide with 1 billion members, which provide jobs or work opportunities to 10% of the world’s employed population. All Cooperatives verify their identity when selecting a .coop web address.