Seedco was founded in 1987 as a community development intermediary with funding from the Ford Foundation. During its first 10 years, Seedco provided loans and technical assistance to community organizations focused on affordable rental housing. We also aided Historically Black Colleges and Universities in creating community developing corporations (CDCs) in Alabama, Florida, Tennessee and Texas.
In 1998, William Grinker, one of Seedco’s founders and a former Commissioner of the New York City Human Resources Administration, and Diane Baillargeon, Seedco’s Senior Vice President, took over leadership of the organization.
During this time, we developed our operational model of providing direct services to clients by managing a network of local, community-based organizations. This model serves as the foundation for our work today. We also expanded beyond community development into workforce development, asset building, and a range of interrelated economic development programs.
After the terrorist attacks on lower Manhattan on September 11, 2001, Seedco was asked by the Ford Foundation, the New York Times Foundation and others to lead a disaster recovery initiative for small businesses and their low-wage workers. Our $45 million program, the Lower Manhattan Small Business & Workforce Retention Project, was credited with saving or creating over 6,000 jobs in Lower Manhattan.
In 2005, Seedco’s loan fund became a subsidiary of Seedco called Seedco Financial Services. Seedco Financial provides affordable financing and business assistance to small businesses, nonprofit organizations, and commercial real estate projects in low-to-moderate income and economically distressed communities.
Seedco launched EarnBenefits in 2005. EarnBenefits is Seedco’s innovative approach to helping people apply for and receive key benefits for which they are eligible. The initiative has since expanded to eight states around the country.
Also during this time, our model programs continued to grow and become sustainable. In 2007, our network of community-based organizations in New York City, the EarnFair Alliance, was replicated in Memphis, Tennessee, to provide job development and job training services to thousands of individuals hoping to find long-term employment.
In 2007, Seedco was selected by New York City’s Center for Economic Opportunity to implement the first large-scale conditional cash transfer program in the United States, Opportunity NYC.
Seedco’s Housing Counseling Network, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, launched and grew to 14 states and Washington D.C.
In February 2010, Barbara Dwyer Gunn, a longtime nonprofit and government leader in New York City, was named President and CEO of Seedco.
In 2012, in a move to strengthen both organizations, Seedco and Seedco Financial Services formally separated into two separate entities.
2017 – Tara Colton was named Executive Director of Seedco, succeeding Barbara Dwyer Gunn, who retired in December 2016 after seven years heading the organization.
Today, Seedco leads initiatives and has offices in four states.