A Hopeful Resistance
A word from our CEO
Thank you for everything you’ve done this year to stand up for justice.
Your support has helped over 7,000 hardworking people come out of the financial shadows and build strong economic futures. And in these uncertain times, family security and community strength matter more than ever.
Together, we provided $2,652,846 in loans to 3,020 people this year alone, more than in any other year. They are college students, fledgling business owners, community organizers, babysitters, and longtime residents voting for the first time. Their vigorous pursuit of their dreams—a home, a diploma, a passport, a restaurant—is nothing short of heroic.
We dedicate this report to our supporters and our clients. You are all heroes to us. Here’s to the fight ahead and the promise of all we can achieve together.
We build on people’s brilliant, informal practices of lending and saving together to bring them out of the financial shadows.
We use technology to provide customized, intuitive tools that are relevant to clients’ financial lives and remove barriers to access.
We built something that works—so we share it. We equip nonprofits to make loan programs available in their communities.
We first piloted Lending Circles in San Francisco’s Mission District. But we knew from the beginning that communities across the country would benefit from opportunities to save and build credit.
By partnering with nonprofits nationwide, we are helping thousands of people emerge from the financial shadows and build brighter futures. Today our partners offer Lending Circles in 17 states and Washington, D.C.
Inaugural Lending Circles Summit
October’s Lending Circles Summit brought together nonprofit partners and other thinkers and doers from across the country to learn, collaborate, and design solutions that improve people’s financial lives.
Hands-on practice building programs that work for clients
“It’s about more than credit. It’s about justice.” – Dr. Fred Wherry, Yale
A chance to test drive the newly released Lending Circles app
A ceremony to celebrate outstanding Lending Circles partners
Expert advice from Credit Builders Alliance, Experian, and FICO
Four fierce nonprofit leaders on how nonprofits can embrace tech solutions
Life lessons from four inspiring Lending Circles clients
One marvelous night of food, music, and superhero-themed fun
A staggering 43% of young adults are un- or under-banked. Without knowledge of how to build a good credit history, they enter adulthood already at a disadvantage. A low credit score can be a barrier to getting approved for a bank account, qualifying for student loans, renting a first apartment, and even getting a good job.
At Game Theory Academy in Oakland, CA, Lending Circles give young people a crash course in money management and a way to build for the future: saving for a goal, planning ahead, repaying a loan, and establishing a credit history.
Entrepreneurship offers a promising path to financial security. But running a business takes more than hard work: it takes start-up capital and good credit. This creates barriers to success for low-income entrepreneurs, particularly people of color, immigrants, and women.
Hacienda Community Development Corporation offers Lending Circles to the talented food entrepreneurs of the Portland Mercado, a Latino marketplace, business incubator, and cultural center that houses nearly 20 small food-based businesses.
Recent immigrants face enormous barriers in integrating into the U.S. financial system: low and unstable incomes, thin or damaged credit histories, language barriers, and limited access to banking services.
With Lending Circles, Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio (CLUES) provides credit-building opportunities, the support of a social network, and access to zero-interest loans. The social lending model has resonated with CLUES’ diverse client communities: Latino, African-American, Somali, Native American, and Hmong.
Queer and gender non-conforming people struggle disproportionately with poverty. LGBTQ youth are twice as likely as their peers to be homeless. Discrimination in the workplace makes it harder to find and keep good jobs.
The Brown Boi Project in Oakland, CA, uses Lending Circles to help masculine of center womyn, queer, and trans people of people of color achieve financial security and wellness.
Sources: CUNY, Center for American Progress.
As cities attract new businesses, development, and wealth, longtime residents struggle to keep their homes. For low-income residents, especially people of color, “growth” and “improvement” foreshadow displacement.
Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement, Inc., (HCCI) integrates Lending Circles into their rental assistance and homeownership programs. They provide Harlemites with a credit-building tool to qualify for a home loan or secure a rental unit so they can stay in the community they know and love.
The Power of Partnership
When Karla became eligible for citizenship, the expensive application fee stood in her way. So she joined a Lending Circle to save toward her goal. In November, Karla voted in her first presidential election.
“When I voted, it wasn’t just for me. It was for everyone who has faced obstacles on their journey to find peace and a better life for their families. No president can take that from me.”
Lending Circles for Citizenship
When he moved to California, Michael enrolled in med school to rebuild the career as a doctor he’d had in Ethiopia. But without credit, he couldn’t get a loan. He joined a Lending Circle—he knew the practice by its Amharic name ekub. Now he’s researching breast cancer treatments at UCSF and studying for his medical boards.
“Without opportunities to come out of the shadows, people like me can’t unleash their full potential.”
Getting DACA in 2012 changed Diana’s life. With a SSN, she could finally get a license, live without fear of deportation, and pursue the job of her dreams. Now she works at MAF helping other immigrants emerge from the shadows.
“There’s talk of ending DACA. But DREAMers have already come out of the shadows. We can’t imagine going back. The future is uncertain, but I’m filled with hopeful resistance.”
Lending Circles for DACA
When Isabel first moved to San Francisco from Mexico, she started serving food out of her living room. Soon she landed a stall at the Farmer’s Market and delighted crowds with her mole verde, her mother’s recipe. But without credit, she couldn’t expand. So she joined a Lending Circle. And this summer, her restaurant El Buen Comer opened its doors.
“Lending Circles let me open my own restaurant. But more importantly, I learned to manage the financial system to open even more doors in the future.”
Lending Circles for Business
“As a Council Member, I’m acting as a decision-maker for the community. That’s a role beyond my dreams. Together, we’re making our community better.”
The Member Advisory Council (MAC), made up exclusively of Lending Circles participants, provides invaluable insight into the client experience. Reina Aguilera, Lending Circles for Business
Edgar Cruz, Lending Circles for DACA
Alma Fernandez, Lending Circles
Patricia Fuentes, Lending Circles
Shweta Kohli, Lending Circles
Eulalio Mendez, Lending Circles for DACA
Alan Santos, Lending Circles for DACA
Matilde Vasquez Tito, Lending Circles
The Partner Advisory Council (PAC) consists of seasoned Lending Circles partners who help strengthen the impact and reach of the network.
Jorge Blandón, Family Independence Initiative (Oakland, CA)
Leisa Boswell, SF LGBT Center (SF, CA)
Madeline Cruz, The Resurrection Project (Chicago, IL)
Judy Elling Przybilla, Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership (Slayton, MN)
Rob LaJoie, Peninsula Family Service (San Mateo, CA)
Gricelda Montes, El Centro de la Raza (Seattle, WA)
Paola Torres, Northern Virginia Family Service (Falls Church, VA)
Alejandro Valenzuela, CLUES (St. Paul, MN)
The Tech Advisory Council (TAC) is made up of talented volunteers and tech workers from companies across the country.
Nikhil Goel, Uber
Kimber Lockhart, One Medical Group
Venkatesh Malepate, Google
Haydee Moreno, Revolution Credit
Ben Trombley, DataFox
Stephan Waldstrom, RPX Corporation
Kathryn Weinnman, NerdWallet
Meg Witmer, Facebook
Argin Wong, Box
Ling Wu, Box
Gabriela Zamudio, ThoughtWorks
The Adelante Advisory Council (AAC) is a committee of passionate professionals fundraising and friend-raising in support of Lending Circles.
Cyana Chilton, Capital Group
David Krimm, Consultant
Jessica Leggett, Seven + Gold LLC
Peter Meredith, Independent Consultant
Sally Rothman, Wanelo
Jesus Sandoval, Shoreline Investment Management Co.
“Tipping Point Community Award” and “Most Innovative Credit Building Product”
Chuy and Eggs joined the family and are now official office greeters
100+ articles, radio and TV spots including NYT, WSJ, and TIME
New talent: five staff and four board members
Dr. Wherry & his research team have 3 papers and a book in the pipeline
Lending Circles is going mobile with two new apps
MacArthur Genius Award
In September, CEO José Quiñonez was named a 2016 MacArthur “Genius” Fellow for bringing creativity and innovation to the field of financial services. The MacArthur Fellowship recognizes exceptional originality and insight, and awards a no-strings-attached stipend of $625,000.
With the support of our funders, donors, and board members, we’re helping thousands of hardworking families build more secure financial futures. We couldn’t do it without you.
Citi Community Development Levi Strauss Foundation JPMorgan Chase & Co. Tipping Point Community
Capital One Ford Foundation Northwest Area Foundation
Bank of the West
Bright Funds Foundation
Cathay Bank Foundation
Credit Builders Alliance
Crosby & Kaneda, CPA
Debevoise & Plimpton
Friedman Family Foundation
Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation
Liberty Mutual Insurance
National Council of La Raza
Network for Good
Roy and Patricia Disney Family Foundation
Russell Sage Foundation
San Francisco Department of the Environment
The San Francisco Foundation
San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing
San Francisco Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs
San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development Silicon Valley Community Foundation
Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund
Walter & Elise Haas Fund
Wells Fargo Foundation
Y & H Soda Foundation
Andrew & Julie Doupe
Antonio R. Lajoie
Collette & Court Chilton
Connie & Peter Robinson
Elise K. Haas
Jacqueline De Nevers
Kelsea McDonough & Alberto Fonts
Kyle & Christian Baker
Manuel J Santamaria
Martin “Wes” Freas
Mary Anne Fairley
Michele De Nevers
Paul & Jessica Leggett
Stephen Van Den Eeden
Susan & Fritz Zimmer
El Buen Comer
Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
Hyatt Regency San Francisco
Steve and Lissa Seem
The Front Porch
Vicki Joseph, President
Mona Masri, Vice President
Ian McLeod, Treasurer
Manuel Santamaria, Secretary
Aquilina Soriano Versoza