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.
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 ended, SMHA’s Lorna Bourg proposed that the organizations continue working together. Thus, SEACorp was born.
Over the years the organizations comprising SEA Corp have changed as the field of community development continues to mature and adapt, with two of the original ten members still engaged in SEA Corp. What has not changed is the spirit and intent of SEACorp; as described by SMHA’s Lorna Bourg: “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.”