Center for Community Self-Help

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Center for Community Self-Help
Founded 1980
Headquarters Durham, North Carolina
Key people Martin Eakes (CEO)
Products Financial services
Employees 240+

The Center for Community Self-Help (Self-Help) is a community development lender and real estate developer. It was founded in Durham, North Carolina in 1980. Self-Help is one of the largest community development financial institutions in the United States, and a leader in profitably lending to underserved borrowers and communities.

Self Help's mission is to create and protect ownership and economic opportunity for minority, women-headed, rural and low-wealth families through home and small business lending. To date over $5.5 billion has been disbursed to these target groups.[1] Self-Help operates from regional offices in Asheville, Charlotte, Durham, Fayetteville, Greensboro, Greenville, Wilmington and Wilson, as well as in Washington, D.C.


Martin Eakes and Bonnie Wright founded Self-Help in 1980 to provide management assistance to worker-cooperative businesses in low-income communities. In 1984, Self-Help established its financing affiliates - Self-Help Credit Union and Self-Help Ventures Fund - to help disadvantaged individuals build wealth through home and small business ownership. Looking to expand its community development impact, Self-Help joined with Fannie Mae in the late 1980s to create a secondary market program for underserved borrowers. After initial success with secondary market lending, Self-Help partnered with Fannie Mae and the Ford Foundation in 1998 to create its Community Advantage Program, which provides credit enhancement to conventional lenders, enabling them to make flexible home loans to low-wealth families. The Community Advantage Program made over $2 billion in affordable home mortgage loans to minority and low-wealth homebuyers nationwide over a five-year period.[2] Self-Help tracked the data from this program, which showed that low-income borrowers are good credit risks when they are offered responsible loans at fair rates.[3]


Over the years Self-Help has received numerous awards for its work, from organizations such as Preservation North Carolina,[4] the North Carolina Department of Commerce, and the Triangle Commercial Real Estate Women.[5]

In 2007, Self-Help was named one of the twelve high-impact nonprofits in the book Forces For Good along with other organizations such as America's Second Harvest, Habitat for Humanity, The Heritage Foundation, and Teach for America.[6]

In June 2009, Self-Help won the Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Award, which "recognizes and promotes credit unions’ social responsibility efforts within the communities they serve."[7]

In 2009, AARP awarded Self-Help founder and CEO Martin Eakes an Inspire Award, which "pays tribute to ten extraordinary people age 50 and over who have made the world a better place through their innovative thinking, passion, and perseverance." Other 2009 winners included Glenn Close, Quincy Jones, and Alma Powell.[8]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Fast Company. "Social Capitalists: Center for Community Self-Help", December 19, 2007. Retrieved July 15, 2009.
  3. ^ NC Policy Watch. "UNC Center for Community Capital study shows mortgage types, not borrowers, at heart of housing crisis", 2008-10-17. Retrieved on July 15, 2009
  4. ^ Preservation North Carolina "2007 Honor Award Winners". October 2007. Retrieved July 15, 2009.
  5. ^ "Self-Help receives award for Innovative Financing". Retrieved on July 15, 2009
  6. ^ Crutchfield, Leslie. Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits . San Francisco: Jossey-Boss, 2007.
  7. ^ North Carolina Credit Union League. "Self-Help Credit Union Wins Dora Maxwell Award". 2009-6-15. Retrieved on July 15, 2009.
  8. ^ AARP. "Inspire Award 2009 Honorees". February 2009. Retrieved on July 15, 2009

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