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Showing up is just the first step

Annual Report 2023

In crisis after crisis, immigrant and low-income communities show up, prove their resilience, and contribute to our society. However, immigrant families are repeatedly overlooked and must navigate to find their own path forward.

At MAF, we recognize that the needs of immigrant and low-income communities are far too significant to be ignored.

In our work, we focus on the creativity and ingenuity of low-income and immigrant communities as they face a multitude of systemic barriers.


Join us as we show up, do more, and do better for immigrant and low-income communities.

As the pandemic ended, our COVID-related work also ended, but the lasting impact on people’s financial lives will last for many years to come. We’re now helping families recover and rebuild their financial lives by building their credit, improving their savings, and jump-starting their businesses. We’re also removing financial barriers to naturalization with citizenship loans and other immigration loans.

We’re listening to what our clients need to once again come up with solutions that matter. That is what we are doing now and what we have always done – putting our clients front and center, designing with and for them.

Showing up is just the first step

Our approach of meeting clients where they are and building on what is good in their lives leads us to offer a suite of programs and services that address these challenges. But we don’t stop there. We build relationships, gather insights, and advocate for a more inclusive financial system that unlocks everyone’s potential.



Building trust and connection is the most important element of our work.

Business loans and coaching

Immigrant small business owners have established and grown their businesses in the face of inflexible regulations and exclusion, an especially daunting challenge for businesses operating informally. We learned firsthand the importance of building client relationships so MAF is seen as an ally in their journeys. This is where we shine: in understanding the unique challenges facing immigrant entrepreneurs, building trust as we provide business owners with loans, technical assistance, and coaching.

Starting with selling fruit from a cart, Isidora now owns a flower shop that is helping to build a stable financial future for her family.

“Don’t let fear hold you back, because fear will never give you anything. If we can conquer fear…more doors will open for us.” — Isidora, MAF client

Self-enterprise as a critical financial strategy

In 2023, 33% of clients across all of MAF’s loan programs reported participating in self-enterprise through self-employment, freelance work, or starting a business.

Entrepreneurship rooted in local communities

  • 4 in 5 businesses in our programs operate in the same zip code where the client lives

    4 in 5 businesses in our programs operate in the same zip code where the client lives

  • On average, businesses have been open for 7 ½ years

    On average, businesses have been open for 7 ½ years

  • 2 in 5 businesses expanded and created new jobs over the past year

    2 in 5 businesses expanded and created new jobs over the past year

Business as Community at the Berryessa Flea Market

MAF responded quickly to support the vendors whose lives and community were upended when the Berryessa Flea Market in San José announced its impending closure. Over the last year, we have provided vendors with sector-specific technical assistance, reliable loan products, financial education, and individualized coaching as they navigate a significant business transition period.

    Opportunities for belonging

    Immigration loans and financial assistance

    Through our work with immigrant communities, we see how USCIS filing  fees strain families and prevent eligible individuals from achieving immigration security. MAF’s immigration loans and grants help families overcome this barrier. Our data shows that clients who secure immigration loans to adjust their status later return to MAF for business loans or Lending Circles, feeling more financially confident and in control.

    “MAF has developed a beautiful social loan program that leans on community strength and builds credit for all participants, which is especially helpful for those who find themselves credit-invisible. I helped gather 10 fellows to join a Lending Circle and start them on their financial journey.” MJ

    Immigration status impacts confidence and control in finances.

    CREATE NEW INFOGRAPHIC
    Immigration status affects financial confidence and control. On average, clients who repay an immigration loan and subsequently join a Lending Circle report a 13% increase in financial confidence and a 7% increase in financial control. The impact is even more significant for those who participate in a business loan, with an average reported increase of 38% in financial control.

    • 13% of clients, on average, who repay an immigration loan and subsequently join a Lending Circle report an increase in financial confidence. 7% of these clients report an increase in financial control. 
    • 38% of business loan participants report an increase in financial control.

    Opening doors to build credit and build community

    MAF’s signature program Lending Circles draws on the immigrant tradition of peer borrowing to empower members of communities to support one another. 

    We extend the reach of our programs and products through partnerships with deeply embedded community organizations. We scale proven initiatives like Lending Circles and business loans nationwide by leveraging a robust network of partner organizations across 18 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Our partnership model allows aligned organizations to use MAF’s lending platform and resources to offer zero-fee credit-building loans in their own communities.

    Mathilde struggled to find her footing when she first arrived in San Francisco. Discovering community helped her find her path and support her family.

    “The challenges were difficult, but I think I knew how to face them…the thing is to find solutions. I think I have learned some things about finance in my life. MAF, with classes, reinforces the lessons.” Mathilde

    9 in 10

    credit invisible clients established a credit score

    4 in 5

    clients increased their credit score

    Clients’ Financial goals in 2023

    40%

    Rebuilding savings

    40%

    Rebuilding savings

    40%

    Rebuilding savings

    40%

    Rebuilding savings

    Strengthening communities through financial recovery

    MAF has fostered trusted relationships with low-income communities by leveraging finance and technology to support them in their financial lives. Through MAF’s Immigrant Families Recovery Program (IFRP) we’re providing 3,000 families who were excluded from federal stimulus aid with monthly cash assistance and relevant financial services. We’ve also partnered with specific localities such as the City of Coachella, Daly City, and San Mateo County, to implement the program for their communities.

    Getting cash into the hands of families left out of pandemic relief is important, but we didn’t stop there. We are collecting data and insights on the lived experiences of immigrants to inform guaranteed income and financial services discussions that move us toward a more equitable future.

    Reimagining financial education, investing in innovation

    In our community-centered approach, we focus on the strengths of the communities we work with. From the beginning, we have been dedicated to creating pathways for community members to access timely and relevant financial education that recognizes them as experts in their own lives.

    From in-person workshops to streaming live charlas financieras to our MyMAF app, MAF constantly adapts to ensure that our financial education is relevant and accessible. In 2023, we continued to innovate and leverage technology to launch the MAF Learning Hub, allowing our community to access content, resources, and engagement opportunities anytime and anywhere.

    7944

    financial education participants

    93%

    reported learning a new skill

    98%

    would recommend MAF financial education to family and friends

    91%

    felt part of a community

    Doing more Scaling what works

    Throughout our work, MAF prioritizes rigorous research and evaluation so we can contribute effectively to conversations about what works in immigrant and low-income communities. We design our programs to illuminate clients’ financial strategies, innovations, and opportunities, focusing on factors that increase feelings of financial control and overall well-being. This client-centered approach ensures that our evaluation strategies treat clients with dignity and respect.

    Our sophisticated data management system allows us to demonstrate how our approach – putting clients at the heart of product design – effectively unlocks financial and economic potential.

    Reimagining financial education, investing in innovation

    BEYOND CASH

    Learn more about the power of guaranteed income for immigrant families. In this webinar we discussed the financial hurdles faced by immigrant families and how MAF’s Immigrant Families Recovery Program (IFRP) helps them build resilience with accessible loans, bank accounts, and tailored financial education.

    RESEARCH AT SCALE

    Explore the innovative practices of the Immigrant Families Recovery Program (IFRP), the nation’s largest guaranteed income program for immigrants. Gain insights into IFRP’s responsible data collection methods, our commitment to client privacy, and how we leverage data to champion financial equity.

    CONTEXT IS EVERYTHING

    Immigrant communities face a relentless onslaught of crises – denied essential support during the pandemic, struggling under the weight of rising costs, and targeted by hostile political forces. Watch this vital conversation between researchers and practitioners on the impact of these crises on immigrant lives and how nonprofits can adapt their programs to meet these needs.

    FINDING COURAGE IN CRISIS

    Despite immense challenges, MAF clients Luisa and Isidora shared their journeys to financial stability through business ownership. Watch the recording to gain insights from MAF’s research and witness the courage and determination of immigrant entrepreneurs who rebuilt after the pandemic’s devastation.

    GETTING RESEARCH DESIGN RIGHT

    Explore the crucial role of research design with Princeton Professors Fred Wherry and Eldar Shafir. Delve into best practices used to design the research for the nation’s largest guaranteed income program for immigrants.


      Doing better – What we are looking forward to

      WE ARE BRINGING TOGETHER A NATIONWIDE NETWORK OF NONPROFITS TO OFFER BETTER SOLUTIONS.

      Community-based and culturally relevant programs meet people where they are and respect their strengths. To support the challenges, journeys, and dreams of different communities across the U.S., we work with partners to find the programs that are right for their community, whether it’s Lending Circles, Immigration Loans, or Business Loans. All of our programs are supported by comprehensive, strengths-based education and MyMAF, our own financial coaching app.

      In 2024, we are bringing in new partners through our Campagne des communautés Lending Circles supported by the Wells Fargo Foundation.

      BUILDING A PATH FORWARD FOR GRANT PARTICIPANTS

      In addition to putting cash directly in the hands of low-income and immigrant families, we are continuing to engage grant clients in zero-interest, credit-building loan products and a suite of financial education offerings ensuring wraparound support is available free of charge to support families in their journeys to build wealth and increase financial security.

      Même si Diana a été présentée au MAF grâce à nos programmes de secours COVID, elle a rapidement rejoint d'autres programmes du MAF. Diana a rejoint un Lending Circle à Houston avec l'un des partenaires du MAF. En communauté avec d'autres femmes, elle a participé à un cercle de prêt pour $200 par mois et a profité de l'occasion pour augmenter sa cote de crédit de 400 à 500 jusqu'à près de 650 points.

      Empowering entrepreneurs and boosting small businesses

      Small businesses are crucial for reviving the US economy and improving families’ financial well-being. MAF is committed to aiding entrepreneurs in expanding their businesses and achieving their financial goals. Next year, MAF will provide timely, relevant technical assistance to immigrant entrepreneurs, particularly street vendors, to formalize their work and overcome licensing barriers. MAF will also offer culturally relevant financial services to clients and aid them in establishing a community as they start or expand their businesses.

      Pushing for systemic reform

      Building on our community-centered approach to financial services, we continue to collaborate with experts like Dr. Eldar Shafir et Dr. Frederick Wherry of Princeton University to share research insights that inform the conversation on immigrants and the economy — how families live, persevere, and thrive — as we collectively push forward toward a more just world. We use these insights to push for legislation and systemic reform that moves us toward a more equitable financial mainstream.

      Investment and Impact

      INVESTIR DANS LES COMMUNAUTÉS

      We continue to invest in building programs that meet the financial needs of our communities.

      Since MAF started in 2007, we have focused on providing loans and grants to respond to the needs of immigrant and low-income communities. During the pandemic, MAF responded by dramatically increasing our grants to provide families with emergency cash assistance. In 2023, we continue to grow our loan offerings to meet clients’ evolving needs.

      CREATING EFFECTIVE FINANCIAL PRODUCTS

      For 16 years, we have created products to help communities start businesses, build credit, pay for immigration applications, and secure their finances.

      Our community is entrepreneurial
      Since we started offering business loans in 2016, we have provided $2,168,013 in capital to almost 800 entrepreneurs across California.

      Since we started offering business loans in 2016, we have provided $2,168,013 in capital to almost 800 entrepreneurs across California.

      In 2023, we more than doubled the number of Business Loans, helping 593 entrepreneurs start or grow their business.

      In 2023, we more than doubled the number of Business Loans, helping 593 entrepreneurs start or grow their business.

      Responding to crisis
      $11,778,303 directed to community members through grants and fee assistance

      $11,778,303 directed to community members through grants and fee assistance

      Moving toward
      Since 2008, we have provided $2.5M in loans to individuals applying to adjust their immigration status.

      Since 2008, we have provided $2.5M in loans to individuals applying to adjust their immigration status.

      Despite the difficult and complicated immigration system in the U.S., approximately 33% of our clients are using loans to apply for some level of permanent residency status.

      Despite the difficult and complicated immigration system in the U.S., approximately 33% of our clients are using loans to apply for some level of permanent residency status.

      In 2023, we saw a 20% increase in immigration loans and fee assistance.

      In 2023, we saw a 20% increase in immigration loans and fee assistance.

      Supporting dreamers
      Over 2,744 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients have been able to apply for or renew their DACA status, maintaining their ability to work and pursue their dreams.

      Over 2,744 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients have been able to apply for or renew their DACA status, maintaining their ability to work and pursue their dreams.

      In response to requests from the community, we added a loan specifically for Advanced Parole, which some DACA recipients are able to use as a key step in pursuing citizenship.

      In response to requests from the community, we added a loan specifically for Advanced Parole, which some DACA recipients are able to use as a key step in pursuing citizenship.

      Credit matters
      13,541 clients have participated in 17,721 credit building loans since 2008

      13,541 clients have participated in 17,721 credit building loans since 2008

      In 2023, as clients plan their next financial steps we increased the number of credit building loans by 23%

      In 2023, as clients plan their next financial steps we increased the number of credit building loans by 23%

      Working together

      This past year, we continued to build strong relationships with supporters. Several funders are committing to our work with multi-year grants to deepen our impact and continue our work for years to come.

      In 2023, in addition to our core programs, MAF distributed over $10M in direct cash assistance to help immigrant families excluded from federal pandemic relief. This effort was made possible by a historic donation in 2021, enabling us to launch the Immigrant Families Recovery Program.

      2023 Income

      2023 Expenses

      New title

      At MAF, we recognized that the COVID-19 crisis was too significant for the needs of immigrant families to be overlooked. For this reason, in 2021, we decided to move from rapid response grants to finding a way to provide long-term support to families. This was the inception of MAF’s Immigrant Families Recovery Program (IFRP). The nation’s first guaranteed income program designed specifically to help immigrant families rebuild their financial lives faster.

      To date, MAF has disbursed nearly $19M in monthly cash assistance to immigrant families nationwide. Since the program launched, we’ve had over 1,500 families complete it and we’ve seen the effectiveness of leading with innovation to support them toward long-term financial stability past their participation in the program. While our research is ongoing, early insights reveal that 92% of immigrant families feel connected to the community, and 1 in 5 have established a credit score through their participation in the program.

      Join us as we continue to show up, do more, and do better for immigrant and low-income communities.