Proposed "All Are Welcome" Ownership Level


Below is my (Anthony Todd's) proposal for the "All Are Welcome" Ownership level.  A few notes:
  • I did the initial research on this (fairly extensively) and presented it to the board, before it was handed off to Outreach and Inclusion.  They made some modifications to the proposal.  
  • Some I think are good, some have some legal/policy problems.  You will see my notes on these below - I will present my suggestion, along with theirs.  
  • Here's a link to their work, along with some recap commentary by Grant: Re: 💥 Concern for Community - All are Welcome Ownership level - Board + Columinate.

Proposal: All Are Welcome Ownership Level

Top Line: A simple, $25 all in Ownership level for those who fit certain categories.
  • $25 is 10% of our $250 ownership; it also falls between many of the other co-ops that offer this type of program.  
    • Note that in order for us to offer any meaningful "ownership" (voting, board, etc.) there has to be a meaningful buy-in.
    • The O&I team also proposed a Military/Student ownership level at $100.  I would suggest we table this, and instead do a more simple one-tier system.  This eliminates administrative difficulties.  
  • The categories proposed by O&I and in Grant's notes are, I think, generally appropriate.  These include students and those on fixed/low incomes.  
    • I do not think we should do any vetting - people can self-describe.  Some co-ops require documentation, but I don't think we should be in the position of determining someone's poverty level.
    • I am not sure why we should include a military level.  Military is not the same as fixed/low income, and I strongly question whether including this fits our mission statement or values, or the goals for this program.  Those who are veterans on fixed benefits would fall into our other categories. 
  • Once the $25 is paid, the person gets all rights of ownership [except patronage refunds, see below].
    • They can vote, run for the board, etc.  They can receive discounts and specials, bulk owner pricing - anything else.  At the register, they are simply an owner wit no identifier. 
      • It's effectively the same as making the first payment in a payment plan. 
    • Note that we had discussed the possibility of splitting this $25 into $5 payments and CM eating the fees.  I would suggest tabling this for now, because of the cost versus benefit - once open, we can revisit this.
  • Regarding patronage refunds, a method many other co-ops use is to apply patronage refunds to a person's ownership share balance.  That way, as their patronage refunds accumulate, they get closer to a fully vested $250 share.
    • This is also legally useful.  We don't want to create classes of shares; instead, we want a construct whereby every single owner is either fully vested (has paid their $$) or is in the process of becoming vested (as their patronage refunds accumulate).
    • Without this, technically someone who has paid only $25 and has no plan to "true up" the balance shouldn't actually be voting or running for the board.
    • I could also imagine a system where other owners contribute their refunds (or a scholarship fund is established) to help pay up the balance of these ownership shares and fully vest people.  I don't think we need to decide this now. 
Bottom Line Proposal for eventual vote:  Create an ownership level at $25, open to students and those on (self-declared) fixed incomes.  Owners at this level would have all of the rights of any other owners, and their patronage refunds would be applied to continue increasing their balance until it reaches $250.  

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