Lending Circles Coming to More Los Angeles Communities


MAF is inviting Los Angeles nonprofit organizations to apply to become Lending Circles social loan providers.

Mission Asset Fund (MAF) today announces the Build a Better Los Angeles initiative to expand Lending Circles in Los Angeles. Dynamic nonprofit organizations are invited to to apply to join MAF’s national network of 50+ Lending Circles providers through a special application process. This initiative is sponsored by JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the Roy & Patricia Disney Family Foundation.

MAF’s award-winning Lending Circles are a fresh take on social lending, helping participants safely build credit while increasing assets and improving financial health. The average credit score increase for participants is 168 points.

“We are proud to partner with MAF to help more Los Angeles households improve their financial health,” said Colleen Briggs, Executive Director of Financial Capability, JPMorgan Chase. “Lending Circles help families achieve their financial goals through regular savings and affordable credit building. Families are using lending circles to start businesses, save for college, and buy a home. The benefits do not stop with them but extend to their communities and the broader economy.”

According to a recent report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 45 million adults in the U.S. are invisible to credit markets, making them unable to access affordable credit. Los Angeles has one of the highest unbanked rates in California at 17%, compared to 8% for the state overall. “Without credit scores, people must turn to payday lenders to start a business or get a small-dollar loan,” said Jose A. Quinonez, CEO of MAF. “Lending Circles give people the tools to build credit and enter the financial mainstream.”

“The Roy & Patricia Disney Family Foundation is proud to support Mission Asset Fund’s efforts to build vibrant, economically secure communities in the Los Angeles area through its innovative Lending Circles program. It’s with great pleasure that we support the Build a Better L.A. campaign, which will connect even more low-income Californians with pathways to the financial mainstream,” said Sylia Obagi, Executive Director.

To learn more about the Build a Better Los Angeles initiative or apply to become a Lending Circles provider today, please visit the Request for Proposals here. Selected organizations can gain access to subsidized training costs, training from MAF staff, and on-demand access to an exclusive social loan platform. Applications are due March 18th and new providers will be announced on April 29th. Applicants must be 501c(3) organizations located in the greater Los Angeles area including Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

Interested organizations are encouraged to register for an in-person information session on February 26th at 10:30am at the ImpactHub LA to learn more. Register today to reserve your spot.

Join Us for an Info Session
Date: February 26th
Time: 10:30 am
Location: ImpactHub LA

About Mission Asset Fund

Mission Asset Fund (MAF) is a San Francisco-based nonprofit dedicated to helping financially excluded communities – namely, low-income and immigrant families – gain access to mainstream financial services. Learn more at missionassetfund.org and lendingcircles.org.

What It’s Worth: MAF Featured in New Book


Read CEO Jose Quinonez’s essay “Latinos in the Financial Shadows” in a new book on economic well-being.

Earlier this year I was invited to contribute MAF’s perspective to a joint publication from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED), with the support of the Citi Foundation. The resulting book, titled What It’s Worth: Strengthening the Financial Future of Families, Communities and the Nation, is a collection of more than 30 essays that document the financial health and stability of Americans across the country. The authors put forth promising strategies for improving economic security and mobility in low-income and underserved populations.

My piece “Latinos in the Financial Shadows” highlights the informal lending practices common among immigrant communities, documenting the important role they play in the lives of people operating outside the financial mainstream. It reviews MAF’s strategy for formalizing these informal financial relationships through our Lending Circles program and attests to the impact of our work.

The essay also introduces the Hierarchy for Financial Needs (HFN), MAF’s new model for identifying and assessing the key components of an individual’s financial well-being. The HFN provides a ground-breaking and much-needed framework to help policymakers, practitioners and others working to improve consumers’ financial stability and mobility evaluate their impact more holistically, placing the work in the larger context of economic health.

To download a PDF of “Latinos in the Financial Shadows,” click here. To order a free copy of the What It’s Worth book, visit the Strong Financial Future website.

$1.5M Chase Grant Takes MAF to Next Level


JPMorgan Chase invests $1.5 million in MAF to expand Lending Circles further, faster.

I’m thrilled to announce that JPMorgan Chase recently awarded MAF a $1.5 million, three-year grant to expand our signature Lending Circles program even further across the U.S. JPMorgan Chase is leading the financial capability field by making significant, long-term grants to build the capacity of nonprofit organizations at the forefront of providing meaningful services to consumers in the financial shadows.

We are grateful for their generous grant, which will allow MAF to bring lasting and positive impact to people’s financial lives by expanding our zero-interest Lending Circles across the country. Our work with JPMorgan Chase gives us great confidence as we prepare to scale this model to low-income communities throughout the country.

MAF is on track to more than double our network of Lending Circles providers over the next three years, building a critical mass of partners in key regions across the country: from New York, Chicago, and Miami, to Denver, Los Angeles and San Francisco. We’ll also develop new technology to connect Lending Circles participants with on-demand loan information.

To you, our friends and colleagues, thank you for supporting us in this exciting time of growth. We can’t wait to share stories from the thousands of parents, students, and entrepreneurs working hard to build more secure financial futures thanks to this grant.

Bringing together a Better Bay Area


MAF is bringing together the 10 best ideas for a more financially empowered Bay Area.

MAF is excited to announce the Better Bay Area initiative awardees! This moment has been months in the making. The Better Bay Area initiative launched late last year with support from Google, Y & H Soda Foundation and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation to invite nonprofits in all of the 9 Bay Area counties to become Lending Circles providers.

Since then, we have been engaging with hundreds of people from a diverse group of organizations that provide imaginative and impactful programs and services and want to help their community build credit and increase their financial stability.

We are excited to be working with such an amazing organizations representing the diverse group of people and communities across the Bay Area to implement the Lending Circles program! In the next few months we will be sharing the stories of these new partnerships, the families they work with, and how lives are transformed through the power of Lending Circles. Stay tuned!


We’re excited to introduce the 9 organizations that will join the next phase of financial empowerment through credit building social lending in the Bay Area.

Brown Boi Project, Oakland:

Launched in 2010, Brown Boi works to empower womyn, trans-men, and queer/straight men of color to become social justice community leaders. They prioritize support that improves the lives of the community, and feel that financial empowerment and financial literacy are key factors in creating positive change. Brown Boi Project wants to implement the Lending Circle program to help their clients take their economic readiness to the next level.

Building Skills Partnership, San Jose:

BSP launched in 2000 from a collaboration of the SEIU-USWW and property service employers in Northern California. BSP improves the quality of life for low-wage property service workers and their families by increasing their skills, access to education and opportunities for career and community advancement California. BSP believes that Financial empowerment is a key factor towards acquiring individual success. They intend to use the Lending Circle program to provide hands on financial trainings that also support accessing money for citizenship fees , saving for college, and credit building for their clients.

Game Theory Academy, Oakland:

Game Theory Academy’s (GTA) mission is to improve economic decision-making and provide economic opportunities to low-income youth, to increase their financial stability and help them develop analytical skills that they apply to many areas of their lives. GTA is excited to incorporate Lending Circles into their programs in order to give young people the opportunity to build a strong credit foundation, practice budgeting in a supportive environment, and prepare for financial independence.

OBDC Small Business Finance, Oakland:

OBDC Small Business Finance’s mission is to create economic opportunity by empowering entrepreneurs. Through innovative partnerships, they provide business owners with capital, education, and relationships that allow their clients to flourish. Since 1979, OBDC has been helping their clients expand in size, increase their profits, and reach their goals. They plan to use Lending Circles to provide business owners with credit building opportunities, financial education, and community relationships to help their businesses thrive.

Peninsula Family Service, San Jose:

Founded in 1950 to strengthen families in the wake of Word War II, Peninsula Family
Service continues to help members of our community achieve their full potential. The organization reaches over 10,000 individuals each year, assisting underserved populations to overcome barriers to opportunity, financial stability, and wellness through an integrated network of tools and support. Lending Circles will bolster their existing Financial Empowerment services by adding a new credit-building tool to their innovative financial education, prepaid debit card, IDA, and vehicle loan programs.

Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center
, Mid-Peninsula / East Palo Alto:

Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center breaks the cycle of poverty by bringing the power of entrepreneurship and financial capability programming to low-income and economically vulnerable individuals, families and communities. Through our Secure Futures partnership with Community Legal Services of East Palo Alto and Nuestra Casa our Mid-Peninsula site is able to provides financial education and coaching to different communities in San Mateo County. As students are learning about setting savings goals, implementing household budgets, understanding the banking system and using credit beneficially, they are also introduced to safe financial services and products. Lending Circles will provide our clients with a safe and beneficial way to increase or build credit, lower existing debt or start saving for a predetermined goal of their choice!

Rubicon, Richmond:

Founded in 1973, Rubicon’s mission is to transform East Bay communities by equipping low-income people to break the cycle of poverty with a personalized, comprehensive collection of services that includes job placement, housing, legal services, and financial literacy. The organization is looking forward to using Lending Circles to financially empower adults in their financial boot camp as well as those who have been formerly incarcerated and/or homeless.

The Unity Council, Oakland:

The Unity Council is a non-profit community development corporation committed to enriching the quality of life of families primarily in the Fruitvale District of Oakland since 1964. Its mission is to help families and individuals build wealth and assets through comprehensive programs of sustainable economic, social and neighborhood development. The Unity Council will use the Lending Circles credit building program to increase the capacity of their work with small business owners and aspiring homeowners, as well as help their low income clients rise out of poverty.

Veterans Equity Center, San Francisco:

The Veterans Equity Center is a nonprofit organization located in the South of Market of San Francisco. Established in 1999, VEC was originally established to provide services for Filipino World War II veterans. VEC has expanded its services to include low-income seniors, families, people with disabilities, immigrants, LGBTQ, formerly incarcerated and homeless individuals. VEC provides support services to these groups through counseling, free legal clinic, affordable housing opportunity assistance, advocacy and activities for seniors and adults with disabilities. The Lending Circles program will complement their already robust services to further help immigrant and veteran clients become more financially empowered with the resources and credit they need.


Thanks to Jon D’Souza for his contributions to this post. 

Doing More with Partners


MAF is partnering with the Mexican Consulate to offer Mexican DREAMers an Exciting Opportunity.

MAF is thrilled to announce a new partnership with the Mexican Consulate in SF to support Mexican nationals applying to DACA through the Lending Circles for Deferred Action program. Through this program, DREAMers are offered a zero-interest loan to help finance the cost of the $465 DACA application fee while building credit history and gaining access to financial education.

MAF’s Lending Circles for Deferred Action program was created to help low-income DREAMers overcome the cost barrier of applying for three-year relief from deportation after Obama’s announcement of executive action on November 20, 2014.

The government is taking a step forward for immigration action and we are ready to help families who need the financial support to apply for administrative relief.

Thanks to the Consulate General, up to 150 DREAMers of Mexican nationality will have the special opportunity to receive a 50% match, making applying for Deferred Action through Lending Circles an even better value! Participants like Alan Santos have already benefited from the Lending Circles for Deferred Action program.

As one of the first Lending Circle for Deferred Action participants, Alan is able to pursue his education and work as an advocate for undocumented youth. He hopes to become an immigration lawyer to alleviate the confusion and pain many youth go through in the Deferred Action application process.

MAF is looking forward reaching more hardworking families and youth like Alan with the support of the Mexican Consulate.

If you’re interesting in applying for the Lending Circles for Deferred Action program, visit lendingcircles.org and submit an application to MAF. Look out for enrollment and formation dates beginning this month.

For organizations currently working with DREAMers, you can learn more about how to get involved with the Lending Circles for Deferred Action program here. 

Looking Ahead in 2015


We’re deepening our commitment to Deferred Action applicants and business owners with new programs.

It’s a new year and we’ve got a number of new changes in our programming in 2015 as we take steps to help more people navigate the financial marketplace and realize their full economic potential.

Origination Fee

After the enactment of SB 896 in August 2014, we now have recognition in California for zero-interest, credit-building loans as a tool for good. As we scale and expand in the San Francisco Bay Area, sustainability is a key element to MAF’s ability to reach more clients. In order for us to continue delivering the quality level of service and products, beginning in 2015, we are instituting a small origination fee of 5 to 7% for MAF’s clients in California.

Our loans will still remain zero-interest but this new fee supported by SB896 will allow us to cover the administrative costs from providing financial education, reporting the payment data to credit bureaus, facilitating transactions, and securing the private data with the best technology in the field. With this new source of funding, we plan to invest deeply in the community and ensure more people are able to participate in the Lending Circles program.

We’re also excited to share some new programs rolling out this year:

Lending Circles for Deferred Action

With President Obama’s recent executive action on immigration, about 5 million more immigrants to the United States have the opportunity to apply for Deferred Action, an administrative relief from deportation for undocumented immigrants.

At MAF, we’ve offered two specific programs, Lending Circles for Citizenship and Lending Circles for DREAMers, to helping aspiring citizens and youth finance the cost of their citizenship and DACA applications. We’re proud to deepen our support for hard working immigrants with the launch of Lending Circles for Deferred Action to include anticipated applicants to the new DAPA program in the upcoming months. Expansion of this new program is made possible thanks to a PRI from the Rosenberg Foundation.

Lending Circles for Deferred Action will be kicking off in Los Angeles, thanks to a grant by the Roy and Patricia Disney Family Foundation. The program will support 300 eligible applicants to reduce the cost of applying for Deferred Action by 33% – from $465 to $310. Mexican American Opportunity Foundation, Pilipino Workers Center and Korean Resource Center are the first Lending Circles partners to offer this program to the community.

And in San Francisco, we’re partnering with the Mexican Consulate to support Deferred Action applicants of Mexican descent with a 50% match.

Lending Circles for Business

MAF has many Lending Circles members who are building or repairing their credit to invest in their small businesses, so we’ve created Lending Circles for Business. This program is specifically focused on aspiring and current business owners who have completed a Lending Circle before. Participants will get an up-front loan that helps build credit and open doors to more affordable business lending options in the future.

Check out what some of our entrepreneurial members have accomplished so far to see how important good credit is to running a successful business.

If you’re excited about these opportunities, be sure to check out more about Lending Circles and sign up to join!

Lending Circles for Deferred Action Expands in LA


Bringing financial support to immigrants seeking Deferred Action

With President Obama’s recent announcement on Deferred Action, the need to focus our attention on the financial needs of immigrant communities is greater than ever. New reforms enable an additional 5 million immigrants the potential to apply for Deferred Action. Having already harnessed partnerships in 10 states and D.C to offer credit-building opportunities, MAF is ready to do the same for those now looking to apply for this new program.

Thanks to a generous grant from the Roy and Patricia Disney Family Foundation, MAF will be partnering with the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation (MAOF), Korean Resource Center and Pilipino Workers Center to expand its award-winning Lending Circles program for individuals seeking Deferred Action in the Los Angeles area.

The Lending Circles for Deferred Action program will allow 300 eligible applicants access to zero-interest loans to finance the cost of the Deferred Action application fee by 33% (from $465 to $310) while also building their credit.

MAF has already seen the impact of getting Deferred Action with our own clients in the San Francisco Bay Area. In our seven years of operations, we have assisted over 300 clients in successfully applying for Deferred Action. Members like Itzel and Jesus have used Lending Circles to move towards their goals of accessing an affordable education and becoming advocates in the community.

“MAOF is excited to expand its current relationship with Mission Asset Fund by offering the Lending Circles for Dreamers Program,” says Martin Castro, President and CEO of the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation.

“As a distinguished agency serving the Los Angeles Community, MAOF is looking forward to offering a program that will assist people who have arrived into our country as children and are looking to pursue their dreams. The Lending Circles for Dreamers Program brings needed assistance to residents of Los Angeles who would like to apply for deferred action but have not due to financial hardships.”

Tune into the National Immigrant Integration Conference in LA today at 11:45 a.m. to hear the formal announcement by our Director of Engagement, Mohan Kanungo, and CEO, Jose Quinonez.

Give Credit where it matters


This December, support the credit-builders in your community.

Here at MAF, we’re lucky to have the chance to watch incredible people use our products to reach their financial goals. This year, we’ve seen a lot of people come through our doors and leave as credit-builders. We’ve served close to 1000 members, formed 13 new partnerships with a total loan volume of nearly $710,000.

As we look toward the future, we’re excited to celebrate our members’ successes and welcome many more. We’re looking forward to scaling up our solution, so we can work with new partners and reach even more members.

We’ve launched our Annual Campaign and ask you to “Give Credit” to those working to get out of the financial shadows. Whether it’s a single parent, a new business owner or an aspiring DREAMer, credit matters in everyone’s life.

To highlight our incredible members, we’ll be sharing new stories each week through email, social media and right here on our blog.

There are so many ways to get involved and support credit-builders:

1) Donate here

2) Buy your Christmas Gifts on AmazonSmile – a portion of your purchase will go towards MAF!

3) Spread the word. Share our social media posts on Facebook and Twitter, so your friends can  learn too.

4) Ask your employer if you can get a matching contribution

With so many ways to contribute to our growing community, will you Give Credit today?

From Partner Extraordinaire to Board Member


Follow Aqui’s journey with MAF and how she became our newest board member.

Expanding community with a new board member

I am thrilled to announce that we have added a brand new member to our family – this month our board voted in Aqui Soriano, Executive Director of the Pilipino Workers Center, as our newest board member!

Aqui has been working with the Pilipino Workers Center in LA for 14 years and is a leader in the national domestic worker’s movement.

One thing people don’t always know about Aqui is that she will keep calling until it gets what she wants for her community.

When she heard we were expanding Lending Circles to other organizations, she started calling me periodically to see if we were ready to go to L.A. Each time I would tell her “We’re just working on the Bay Area right now, but soon. Soon.”

Once the time was right, and thanks to winning the LA2050 Challenge, we brought on PWC as our very first L.A. partner. Fast forward a few years later and PWC is the only partner who is currently offering all of MAF’s programs – from Lending Circles to Security Deposit Loans.

“As a partner, we have seen firsthand the impact the organization has had,” Aqui says.

So when we were thinking about expanding our board membership, Aqui’s name immediately rose to the top because she has a unique perspective as a partner. I recently asked Aqui what her goals are in joining our board. She said “I see the value MAF has in building communities – in its lending circles as well as building broader community. I also appreciates that MAF knows how to build organizational infrastructure and systems to grow and scale.”

I couldn’t be more thrilled to have Aqui join us on the board and really look forward to your future with MAF.

A Time to Celebrate MAF 2.0


A community comes together to mark the next phase in Lending Circles

Last Monday, October 20th we opened our doors to over 150 members of the MAF family in celebration of MAF 2.0: the exciting new phase of our organization. Everyone from funders to clients and friends came to discover our new space and learn about the launch of our social loan platform.

The evening was full of excitement as the room was abuzz with thoughts on MAF’s continued growth and development. The incredible catering from some of our favorite credit-building clients (Alicia’s Tamales, D’Maize and Delicioso Creperie) only added to the jovial atmosphere. It was a time to reflect on how far we’ve come and how what was born in the Mission District is now resonating throughout the country.

With the launch of our new platform, we are empowering other organizations to do similar work in their community.

Shweta Kohli, a Lending Circle client, shared her story recently chronicled in the New York Times. Her journey beautifully exemplifies the strength and resilience of all our clients.

Kari Dohn Decker, Executive Director of the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Responsibility for the West Region spoke to the current status of credit-building efforts, expressing that “this is a national issue”. She praised MAF’s partnering efforts which are bringing help to people in need across the United States. She capped off her speech by announcing MAF as the recipient of another round of funding from JPMorgan Chase of $300,000.

San Francisco Treasurer Jose Cisneros closed out the program. He presented MAF with an award from the city making sure to point out that MAF has “really moved the needle” on the credit building issue.

“You’re building a stronger community. You’re building a stronger San Francisco. And now I’m confident that you will do the same across the country,” said Jose Cisneros.

Every day we meet more and more individuals and communities eager to use our services. To meet our growing needs, we took two steps: The first, finding a bigger office and the second, improving and expanding our technology. Our new location means bigger meeting spaces and easier access so we can better serve our clients.

Technology has been essential to everything we do at MAF from loan management and accounting to communication and fundraising. Over the past five years of using Salesforce, we learned and observed where there were bottlenecks in our application and enrollment process, especially in our Lending Circles partner provider experience, so we wanted to address those areas with our new Social Loan platform. Our guests got to see a demo of the platform’s features during the party and learned more about our deepened commitment to partnerships in the Bay Area and beyond.

Looking ahead, we are rapidly expanding our programs and bringing on new organizations to partner with us, so we needed a new system that would enable us to handle working with many more organizations and individuals.

The MAF 2.0 Launch Party marks a step in a new direction for our organization and we were thrilled to be able to celebrate with members of our community. Everyone who walked through our doors is an important part of our family. Their support and energy make us who we are and we are grateful that we were able to include them in our efforts to bring more hardworking families out of the financial shadows.

MISSION ASSET FUND IS A 501C3 ORGANIZATION

TERMS OF USE   |   PRIVACY   |   CONTACT

Copyright © 2022 Mission Asset Fund. All Rights Reserved.

English