Our Collaboration with SEA Corp

The Sustained Excellence Alliance Corp. (SEA Corp) is the first practitioner-driven cooperative for innovation in the development of financial products and collaborative learning in the field of community development. SEA Corp creates links for direct investments in local community development through the establishment of a loan pool that mitigates the risk to the lender. SEA Corp provides a national forum for learning and investment across issues and geography to establish a basis for the standardization of "social return on investment" in community development. SMHA helped lead the way towards the development of SEA Corp and SMHA's Executive Director Lorna Bourg serves as SEA Corp's President.

A Brief History of SEA Corp

SEA Corp was launched in 2001 by 10 mature Community Development Corporations (CDC's) who were chosen in 1998 by the Fannie Mae Foundation for its Sustained Excellence Award. With three years of support from the Fannie Mae Foundation, the organizations met regularly and worked closely on issues of mutual concern. It was a learning process and the groups soon came to realize that they had accomplished a rare feat -- a trusting and secure environment where the groups could learn from each other's successes AND failures. When the three years of Fannie Mae Foundation funding came to a close, the groups decided to find a way to continue working collaboratively.

SEA Corp was created as a permanent vehicle that enables member groups to build upon the successes of their previous collaboration. The groups dual mission is:
  • To help us meet our growing need for inexpensive working capital for real estate projects;
  • To advance our shared goals of learning, innovation, and knowledge dissemination within the field.
SEA Corp is one of the first national CDC-driven collaborations to focus on resource development and collaborative learning in community development. In fact, SEA Corp has already launched a new public offering that is being spearheaded by the Calvert Social Investment Foundation to raise investment capital for its ongoing projects. So far, SEA Corp has raised nearly $4 million in low interest loans and has commitments for more later this year. SEA Corp is also working with OMG's Center for Collaborative Learning, which is facilitating and documenting the peer-driven learning agenda.

Lorna Bourg, president of SEA Corp and Executive Director of Southern Mutual Help Association, notes that "This innovative effort brings together some of the best minds in community development to make us individually more effective and empower us collectively to make a difference in the field of community development, locally and nationally."



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