Cooperatives 101

There are more than 47,000 cooperative businesses in the United States that generate more than two million jobs and create more than $74 billion in wages. These cooperatives also account for more than $654 billion in revenue!

In many ways, co-ops are like any other business; but in several important ways they’re unique and different. Cooperatives are:

  • Owned and democratically controlled by their members-the people who use the co-op’s services or buy its goods-not by outside investors; Co-op members elect their board of director from within the membership.
  • Return surplus revenues (income over expenses and investment) to members proportionate to their use of the cooperative, not proportionate to their “investment” or ownership share.
  • Are motivated not by profit, but by service-to meet their members’ needs for affordable and high quality goods or services
  • Exist solely to serve their members
  • Pay taxes on income kept within the co-op for investment and reserves. Surplus revenues from the co-op are returned to individual members who pay taxes on that income.

Co-ops come in all shapes and sizes and range in size from small store-fronts to large Fortune 500 companies. There are electric and telephone services, insurance co-ops, food co-ops, credit unions, forestry co-ops, farm marketing and supply co-ops, just to name a few. And, of course, student housing co-ops are an important part of the American co-op movement.

Whether big or small, urban or rural, in the east, west, north or south, co-ops are committed to meeting people’s needs through democratic control, sound business practices and collaborative community effort.

Other Housing Co-op Organizations

Montie House
548 M.A.C. |

Montie provides a truly unique living experience for those willing to embrace a little bit of chaos in their lives. Big, rowdy, and filled with pet felines, there’s never a dull moment in M.A.C.’s favorite red house. There’s currently no official method to contact Montie, so parties interested in living there should visit the house in person for a physical tour.

Colonial Township Co-op
3818 Pleasant Grove Rd., Lansing | (517) 882- 4176 |

Colonial Township houses provide affordable housing through nearly 250 townhouses spread across 19 acres of beautiful lawns and gardens. Sharing the same values as the SHC, we’ve collaborated with Colonial Township Co-op in the past to spread our shared values of community and intentional living. If you decide not to live in an SHC house, we strongly recommend giving the Colonial Township a look!

Colorado Gardens Co-op
3056 N Waverly Rd | Lansing | (517) 321-1928

It’s affordable and has decent google reviews lol

Genesee Gardens Cohousing
804 Bancroft Ct | Lansing |

Genesee Gardens is a community of 15 independent houses in the Lansing area that all share some common space. A common house, common garden, common tools…. every Friday the members of the Genesee Gardens Cohousing have a potluck together!

Woodbridge Commons Cooperative
2011 Georgetown Blvd. | Lansing | (517) 894-9624

Woodbridge Commons is a collection of 157 townhomes located off of I-96. Living here includes curbside pickup, air conditioning, and mail delivery. All under a low membership fee.

Other Co-op Organizations

North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO)
330 S. Wells St, Suite 618-F, Chicago, IL 60606 | (773) 404-2667 |

NASCO is an association of campus cooperatives in Canada and the U.S., providing student cooperatives with operational assistance, encouraging the development of new student cooperatives, and serving as an advocate for student cooperatives. NASCO teaches leadership skills, provides information, and serves as the central link facilitating the fruition of the Rochdale vision in the student sector. By strengthening the student co-op movement, we believe we can strengthen the future of cooperatives generally.

Michigan State University Federal Credit Union
523 E. Grand River Ave., East Lansing | (800) 678-4968 |

Located right next door to the SHC office, this cooperative bank, owned collectively by its customers, offers a wide variety of accounts and services with great rates and customer service. The FCU is the largest university-based credit union in the world by both membership and asset size.

Lansing Bike Co-op
1715 E. Kalamazoo, Lansing |

The Lansing Bike Co-op seeks to empower the capital city through bicycle education and training. They provide a friendly environment for all visitors!