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What it’s Like to Win a MacArthur ‘Genius’ Award for Your Life’s Work

“As a society we have to reassess our assumptions about what is happening within not just immigrant communities, but low-income communities. We don’t give them enough credit for their ingenuity, for their innovativeness, for what it takes to survive and thrive in poverty. . . What we’re trying to do at MAF is actually say no, that’s not true. There’s more to it than that. We can actually build effective, successful programs, but we have to have different assumptions.”

By Taylor Mayol



MacArthur Foundation Announces 2016 ‘Genius’ Grant Winners

José A. Quiñonez, 45, the founder of the Mission Asset Fund, a nonprofit group in San Francisco that helps people build credit history based on informal lending circles common in immigrant communities and among others without access to bank loans, said he saw the award as a boost for the people he serves.

“Our laws and our policies tend to be really ignorant of the beautiful ways that people are helping each other,” he said.”

By Jennifer Schuessler


MacArthur ‘genius’ winner: This immigrant helps others build good credit

la-times-1“Jose Quinonez crossed the border from Mexico to California when he was 9 years old, accompanied by his five siblings, driven out of his home after the death of their father and mother. Three decades later, Quinonez is set to receive one of the most prestigious honors offered to American professionals: a MacArthur Fellowship, known as a “genius” grant.”

by Natalie Kitroeff


¿Por qué es importante tener un buen historial crediticio?

Univision Historial Crediticio Mission Asset Fund

Tener un historial crediticio en este país puede abrirle las puertas a nuevas oportunidades financieras, pero, ¿qué se puede hacer cuando nos niegan algún producto financiero por tener mal crédito?

Karla Henriquez, de Mission Asset Fund, nos habla de los recursos que pueden ayudar a construir un historial de crédito.


Designing for Financial Health


The success of Lending Circles reinforces the importance of knowing your clients holistically in order to serve their needs with consumer-focused delivery. The program tapped into an already existing social practice among immigrant communities, who often pool money for financial support. Lending Circles helped to formalize the practice to make it safer and more efficient, and turned it into a way for clients to build credit.


Theresa Schmall and Josh Sledge
February 6, 2016

Chase, Southwest Solutions launch zero-interest loan program for Detroit residents

Crain's Detroit Business Logo

Bringing Lending Circles to Detroit is the next step in Chase’s $100 million commitment to Detroit’s economic recovery. The bank recently awarded Mission Asset Fund, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that helps low-income and immigrant families gain access to mainstream financial services, a $1.5 million, three-year grant to expand Lending Circles to more communities across the country.

January 5, 2016

Southwest Solutions, JPMorgan Chase and Mission Asset Fund Launch Peer Lending Circles to Boost Credit Scores of Detroit Residents

Yahoo Logo

Southwest Solutions, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Mission Asset Fund (MAF) today announced the launch of Lending Circles, a new social loan program that will allow Detroit residents to safely build credit through zero-interest loans. … MAF’s award-winning Lending Circles are a fresh take on social lending, helping participants build credit while increasing assets and improving financial health.

January 28, 2016

America in Black and White: Economic Opportunity

BBC World Service

Access to affordable credit is vital. How else can you borrow money to buy a car to drive to work? Or put down a deposit to rent a home? But multiple studies have shown that getting credit is harder when you are black.

One showed black applicants are asked to provide more information, and asked tougher questions, while secret recordings showed bank staff were nicer to the white applicants – making jokes and being friendlier. At the Mission Asset Fund in San Francisco they are working to fix some of that.


Rajini Vaidyanathan
January 14, 2016


Banking for Immigrants: Catering to foreign-born customers is a growing niche in finance

Economist Immigrants Mission Asset FundMission Asset Fund, a Californian non-profit group, assists informal savings groups in immigrant communities. As members make small, regular payments into a common pot from which they take turns to borrow, they are also able to develop a formal credit history.

January 9, 2016