Youth and Student Co-operatives

Featured Youth Co-ops

  • University Students' Co-operative Association - Berkeley, United States of America
  • Eyasu Co-operative & Development Association - Tiko, Cameroon
  • The Alma Mater Society Bicycle Co-operative - Vancouver, Canada


The University Students' Co-operative Association

The purpose of the University Students' Cooperative Association (USCA) is to offer low-cost, cooperative housing to university students, thereby promoting the general welfare of the community, and providing an educational opportunity for students who might not otherwise be able to afford a university education. The organization is committed to educating and influencing the community in order to eliminate prejudice and discrimination in housing.


Born in the Great Depression, the USCA has long recognized the importance of its role in helping the less advantaged in our society gain access to a university education and providing support for those of diverse backgrounds. Fourteen Cal students founded the USCA in 1933 with help from Stiles Hall and a $500 loan from the Club House Fund of the University. Inspired and sponsored by YMCA (Stiles Hall) director Harry Kingman, the students were able to persuade community member Annie Dickson to rent a boarding housing where the students paid rent and did workshifts, combining their resources to live cost effectively. The concept was so successful that the students built up capital working during the summer of 1933 to acquire an old fraternity to house and feed 50 students, and by the summer of 1934 acquired a second fraternity house. By the end of 1934, the two houses incorporated as a non-profit co-op association and had succeeded to the point of being able to lease a 200-person apartment house for further expansion.


The USCA operates two types of living facilities: group living houses (includes room and board), and apartments. There are now seventeen group-living facilities that house 914 students (approximately 50% women and 50% men). The capacity of individual houses ranges from 17 to 151 members. In addition to the room and board houses, we own three apartment complexes, housing 380 members. Total USCA membership is close to 1300 students, which represents approximately 4% of the total University enrollment. The USCA's annual operating budget is roughly 6.8 million, with assets over 16 million.


The governing system is a federated one in which the internal affairs of each individual house are controlled by an elected house level government. Matters of concern to more than one house or to the organization as a whole are determined by the USCA Board of Directors. House officers are elected popularly on a one-member, one-vote basis, as are the representatives of the Board of Directors. Control of the organization is vested ultimately in the student members through the Board, which is composed of thirty-five students and three non-students. Student members are elected proportionately by member houses, and non-student members are two alumni and a staff representative. No Board member has the power of veto. Student Directors serve semester terms, while non-student Directors serve indefinite terms. This arrangement provides continuity and experience while retaining control in the hands of the student membership.


The USCA is almost entirely managed by its student managers. All management of individual houses is performed by students appointed by their housemates and compensated in the form of rent credit. These managers supervise all functions conducted by students in their houses or apartments, including meal service, housekeeping, maintenance, gardening, and finances. Each resident member is obligated to work five hours per week at tasks assigned by the student workshift manager. All the houses prepare their own meals using workshift hours and under the supervision of elected student kitchen managers. Individual houses can purchase food and supplies either through Central Kitchen or on the own. Likewise, most routine and minor maintenance is done by house members under the supervision of the elected student house maintenance manager; all maintenance projects are overseen by the Central Maintenance Coordinator. In addition to the student management, there is a professional full-time staff of 25 people who oversee centralized operations. The professional staff consists of the General Manager plus managers and staff in five main departments: Accounting, Operations (including housing assignments and warehouse/food service), Maintenance, Member Resources/Services and Development (fundraising). Central functions include collection of fees, applications and assignments, purchasing, warehousing, fiscal management and major maintenance. While the full-time staff provides continuity and expertise for the organization, major policy and organizational decisions are still reserved for the Board of Directors.

Eyasu Co-operative & Development Association


  • To establish an ultra-modern, resource-training centre equipped with computers and internet services;
  • To educate youth and improve their computer software and hardware skills;
  • To connect youth with the rest of the world, while helping them form contacts with other youth organisations;
  • To do networking with other NGOs in the domain of drug, alcohol abuse, sex inequalities and child abuse.

What do they do?

ECOODA is a community based NGO with a vision to fight unemployment among the Youths as well as retired and creative Cameroonians through the establishment of sustainable rural development projects. Such projects include helping in community water projects, combating and educating communities on environmental hazards. Discouraging Youths from abusive use of drugs and alcohol that may lead to criminal behavior such as vandalism, banditry as well as urban terrorism. Also, creating awareness on sexual abuse and chances of contacting HIV/AIDS, as well as the practices of child abuse and social inequalities. Supporting micro-finance projects technical skills, business management, healthcare outreach, tourism, agriculture, etc., while soliciting funds for such programs through donor organisations and local communities.

Opportunities for Youth

Opportunities for Youth abound in the domain of education, health, employment, increased in capacity building skills, and by attending international conferences sponsored by international organisations.


  1. Establishing an ultra-modern Resource Training Center, equipped with computers as well as providing internet services, to access Youth with the rest of international communities.
  2. A project on poverty reducation has already been submitted to the HIPIC for the funding of a chain of hotels, to provide over 150 job opportunities to the Youths and their families.
  3. A computer literacy project is being launched by EYASU to benefit over 25 private and lay educational institutions to train them with computer skills and the use of internet for world-wide communication.

The Alma Mater Society Bicycle Co-operative

Membership: The AMS Bicycle Co-operative consists of almost 500 members of the University of British Columbia 's undergraduate and graduate student population as well as the university's staff, faculty, and other community members.

Activity: The Bike Co-op is dedicated to making the University of British Columbia (UBC) campus a better place for cyclists and their bikes through improving the cycling environment. This is accomplished through providing public bikes, operating a bicycle shop, educating people about bicycling issues and advocating upgrades to bicycle planning and policy.

Organisational Form: The AMS Bicycle Co-op was incorporated as a student club through the Alma Mater Society (AMS) at the University of British Columbia , (UBC) Vancouver , BC in May, 1998.

Date Formed: May 1998.

Structure: The Co-op is a student-run club of the Alma Mater Society of UBC, and is thus primarily responsible to its "parent" organization. As a result, the current executive structure has a President, Vice-President and Treasurer, in addition to up to seven Directors-at-large. Even with this framework, the co-op's actual practice is to use consensus among members present for decision-making and to share responsibility for the various projects and activities. Most of the daily Bike Co-op administration and co-ordination takes place at the Hub where they employ one full-time and four part-time workers. Some Board members do take paid positions, depending on the available.

Autumn 2001, the fleet had increased to a total of 230 bicycles. In a university community that has a population of 37,000 undergrad and graduate students, it is clear that cycling is, for many people, the most sensible mode of transportation to, from and around the campus.



UBC Student Member

External Member

Full Year
(Sept 1 - Aug 31)



2/3 Year
(Jan 1 - Aug 31)



(May 1 - Aug 31)




There are no shares in the AMS Bicycle Co-op. Rather, the Bicycle Co-op charges an annual membership fee that costs twice as much for other members as it does for registered UBC students.

Additionally, members who wish to have access to the fleet of Purple and Yellow public bikes are asked to contribute at least three volunteer hours learning how to fix and maintain the bikes.

Community Links: The Bike Hub (location: 6357 Agronomy Road ) serves as a program, research, and educational development outlet where people can access educational programs as well as services. Activities that run out of the Hub include:

  • Tuesday night "Purple and Yellow Work Parties"
  • Wednesday Bike Care Clinics: these night repair clinics are free for members and offer 4 different types of basic repair skills, which follow the same rotation every month.
  • Bike Repair 101: offered on selected Saturdays, it is a comprehensive five-hour crash course in basic bicycle fix-it skills.
  • Special "Women's Bike Repair 101" and other tutorials may be arranged upon request.

The Bike Kitchen (location: Student Union Building (SUB) loading dock, north side of the basement) is a non-profit business that includes a full-service bike repair and retail shop. The Bike Kitchen is modeled on Our Community Bikes in Vancouver , BC . The system offers cyclists the use of tools and equipment to fix their own bikes for an hourly fee of $6.00. Cyclists can also receive the "talking assistance" of a mechanic for $11.00 per hour, fix their own bike with "hands on" help from a mechanic for $17.00 per hour, or have a mechanic fix their bike for $38 per hour. Members receive a 10% discount on new parts. Both new and used parts are sold at competitive prices.

The most popular and well-known aspect of the Bike Co-op is the Purple and Yellow public bike program. Volunteers and students hired with monies from a work-study program, recycle and reuse abandoned and donated bikes in order to turn them into a fleet of bikes members can use to cruise around campus. Over 200 bikes have been built, decorated, and sent out into the lanes of UBC by these members. Bikes are secured to racks using a universal lock system.


Youth Co-op Links


North American Students of Co-operation NASCO

Consejo Central de Juventudes Agrarias Cooperativistas de A.C.A. (Argentina)

BC Co-operative Association Youth programme (BC, Canada)

Coopératives Jeunesse de Services (CJS, Canada)

Saskatchewan Co-operative Youth Programme (Canada)

Student Housing Co-operatives in Canada

Youth and Co-operatives (Youthac) -- Electronic listserver maintained by the Canadian Co-operative Association. To subscribe, send email to: with the message: subscribe youthac.

Club Juvenil Cooperativo Coomeva - Cali (Colombia)

Young Co-operative Network (UK)

The University Students´ Co-operative Association (Berkeley, CA, USA)

Student Co-operative Association (Oregon, USA)

InterCo-operative Council ICC, (Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA)