Salish Sea Cooperative Finance (SSCoFi) is a cooperatively-owned social enterprise helping members align their money with their values through investing, borrowing, and financial literacy.
Founded in 2014 in response to the student debt crisis and the climate crisis, SSCoFi refinances members’ high interest student loans in Washington State with capital from investor members. SSCoFi also reimagines community potential by returning profits to its members and providing fiscal education and mentorship.
In 2020, SSCoFi joined with nonprofit For the People to launch Community Care Debt Relief, a fund to provide direct student debt relief to BIPOC community organizers in the Seattle area. With one-time and monthly donations from our members and other folks in the community, we’ve redistributed more than $27,000 and counting.
In 2022, we again partnered with For the People on Kicking Gas, a grassroots campaign to help 100 households on Whidbey Island make the switch from propane, oil, and wood to energy efficient ductless heat pumps. SSCoFi is providing low-interest microloans to make these projects more accessible.
The Origins of Salish Sea Cooperative Finance
In 2014 a group of student-debtors and concerned community members came together to form a cooperative to enable graduates currently living in Washington State to refinance their debt.
We recognized that millions of American families, parents and their children, are forced into a system that saddles them with decades of high-interest student loan debt. As education becomes more expensive, and wages stagnate, students are forced to take out larger loans to cover the cost of their education. The average undergraduate student now graduates with around $29,000 in debt, according to CollegeBoard.
A graduate with $29,000 has an average monthly payment of $315 over a 10-year period. As a result, this rising generation is unable to pursue entrepreneurship, chooses to delay having a family, and finds themselves unable to save for the future.
SSCoFi has brought together student-debtors, investors, benefactors, and advisers to support a community-based approach to address student debt, increase the economic well-being of students in the community, and return the profits to the community rather than big banks.
We envision a world where people are free from extractive debt and where our resources—our money and our energy—stay within our communities to help bring about a more equitable and climate-resilient future.
SSCoFi Cooperative Principals
- Voluntary and open membership
- Democratic member control
- Member economic participation
- Autonomy and independence
- Education, training, and information
- Cooperation among cooperatives
- Concern for community