What is sliding scale payment? Why are we using it?

Posted by Michalina Hunter on May 25, 2021

Thank you to Underground Alchemy, Albany, NY for providing the sample text that this post is based on. 

Sliding scale payment is a tool for building economic justice, and it requires your active participation and reflection. The core principle is to provide a price range that makes an event more broadly accessible to people with diverse financial means, while ensuring fair compensation for the organizers and educators. You are asked to pay according to your available resources. When everyone participates in this way, we are able to create a more equitable, diverse, and supportive farming community. 

Young Agrarians has been offering sliding scale participant fees since it began in 2012. YA recognizes that small-scale ecological farming, especially in start-up, means that the people we serve often have limited access to capital. It is essential that YA programs are accessible with minimal financial barriers to entry.

There are many factors that play into what type of  financial means someone has access to. Household income needs to be considered in relation to necessary expenses and it is important to incorporate both your class background and earning power when choosing how much to pay. 

Consider paying less on the scale if you… 

  • are supporting children or have other dependents
  • have significant debt
  • receive public assistance
  • have medical expenses not covered under healthcare 
  • have tuition or educational expenses
  • have immigration-related expenses
  • are an elder with limited financial support
  • are an unpaid community organizer

Consider paying more on the scale if you… 

  • own the home you live in
  • have investments, retirement accounts, or inherited money
  • travel recreationally
  • have access to family money and resources in times of need
  • work part time by choice
  • have a relatively high degree of earning power due to level of education (or gender and privilege, class background, etc.) Even if you are not currently exercising your earning power, we ask you to recognize this as a choice.

We invite you to take inventory of your own financial resources and ways in which you can contribute to economic justice within your community. We ask that you take these factors into consideration but please don’t stress about it. Pay what feels right. 

What do you think about sliding scale payment? Post your questions, comments, or suggestions below or reach out to farm@youngagrarians.org 

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