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Building our Lending Circles SoCal community


Leveraging our communities’ strengths and innovations, Lending Circles programs offer zero-interest, credit building loans alongside financial education to help clients save money, pursue financial goals, and increase overall financial health.

Over the years, we’ve partnered with some incredible organizations who provide Lending Circles directly to their local communities.

Leaders like Aquilina Soriano at Pilipino Workers Center, one of our first Lending Circles’ partners, who has tirelessly advocated for labor protections for the Filipino immigrant community.

Leaders like Rosa, a Dreamer, advocate, and aspiring lawyer who bravely shared her own story with us, forcing us to challenge one-dimensional narratives about the immigrant community. 

Leaders like Nora, who is making strides towards achieving financial security and becoming a homeowner again, after losing her home and business during 2007 financial crisis.  

Now, we’re looking to deepen our impact in Southern California and grow the Lending Circles provider network!

About the SoCal Challenge


Financial exclusion – the lack of access to basic banking services and credit – is a pervasive and costly issue for low-income individuals across the country. Without bank accounts or credit scores, these communities are locked out of the financial system, preventing them from building a life of safety and security for themselves and their families. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) reports that 45 million adults are invisible to the credit markets.


MAF and a nationwide network of nonprofits are working together to end this vicious cycle. In 2008, MAF launched Lending Circles — a zero-interest, credit building social lending program — as an innovative strategy to build credit and assets among low-income communities. Over the past decade, more than 11,000 participants have received over $10 million in zero-interest loans (with close to zero defaults!), empowering them to build credit and reach their financial goals.


We’re in search of nonprofit organizations in Southern California who are interested in partnering with MAF to offer Lending Circles to their local community. There is no such thing as a typical Lending Circles partner. We welcome applications from nonprofits serving diverse communities with diverse missions. Those who can demonstrate a clear programmatic fit and for whom the Lending Circles program acts as a complement to their current work will be the best candidates for partnership.


Thanks to our sponsors, selected applicants will receive the following benefits – an estimated value of up to $63,000.

  • Ongoing trainings and technical assistance from MAF
  • Access to our platform that makes enrollment, loan management and credit reporting a breeze for your staff
  • Free access to online and mobile-accessible financial education (English/Spanish)
  • A toolkit to help your organization market the program and spread the word


Eligible Applicants

Applicants must be an established 501 C(3) non-profit organization in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Ventura, Orange, and Riverside Counties.

Applications will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  1. Cohesion: A clear understanding and description of how the Lending Circles model aligns and integrates with your current programmatic activities and organizational priorities;
  2. Capacity: The capacity to carry out a mutually-defined set of milestones and deliverables, especially as it relates to enrolling participants;
  3. Community: A demonstrated and clearly articulated community need and/or target population;
  4. Commitment: An intention to and experience with maintaining long-term partnerships

A complete application will include the following attachments:

  1. Your organization’s IRS 501(c)3 determination letter;
  2. Organizational budget for the current fiscal year;
  3. Most recent audited financials;
  4. Fully executed mutual non-disclosure agreement if not received already (this will be sent to you to sign by MAF);
  5. Overview of financial education curriculum offered through your organization (if any). This includes details regarding lesson topics, number and length of sessions, and any samples of lesson plans.

Submission Guidelines

All applications are due by Friday, July 26 at 5pm PDT (late submissions may not be considered). Please submit online here. Selected organizations will be announced on September 3rd.

Awardee must successfully fulfill the following:

  1. At least 35 clients served through financial education;
  2. At least 35 clients participate in Lending Circles per year;
  3. Utilize client management systems and evaluation tools for tracking client progress and program outcomes;
  4. Work closely with MAF to disseminate findings of the project, and influence dialogue on financial capability in Los Angeles County and neighboring region, with a broader audience including local media, other asset building practitioners, federal agencies and elected officials;
  5. Is dedicated to initiating a long-term partnership and signing a partnership agreement.

Want to learn more?

Attend a webinar

Sign up for a
#LendingCirclesSoCal webinar

Am I a good fit?

Talk to a MAFista to learn if your organization is a good fit

Ready to apply?

Submit an application by July 26th at 5pm PDT

“Lending Circles are a game changer for our community. We serve community members, many undocumented and mostly women, who face difficulties getting access to bank accounts. Lending Circles makes participating in a credit building program possible for so many in our community. Some of our members and families still stay connected to those in their circles because they shared their goal.”
Allie Olson, Executive Director
LIFT – Los Angeles

Partner Testimonial