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Tag: financial education

Ventanilla: A Window of Opportunity

Mission Asset Fund (MAF) and the Mexican Consulates of San Francisco and San Jose have joined forces to support the economic empowerment of Mexican nationals across northern California and the State of Hawaii. This covers individuals across Northern California, including those in the Counties of Santa Cruz, San Benito, Monterey and in Hawaii. Modeled after New York City’s Ventanilla de Asesoría Financiera—meaning “Financial Empowerment Window”—the program provides customized financial empowerment services and resources at the two Consulates.

Since January of 2017, MAF has provided financial presentations, workshops, and coaching sessions to approximately 2,000 individuals per month at each site. By the end of the first year of the Ventanilla program, MAF served 30,000 clients —more than doubling our goal.

By establishing partnerships in both the nonprofit and public sectors, MAF has extended a variety of financial education services to meet our communities’ unique needs.

  • We dedicate staff for mobile consulate trips once a month – making sure that hard-to-reach communities like Kona, Hawaii and Pescadero, CA are getting access to the services they need.
  • We provide on-site access to Lending Circles, a 0% interest loan program, that helps people build their credit.
  • We invite outside presenters to regularly lead workshops (talleres) on topics supporting entrepreneurship in immigrant communities, including organizations from SFEDA. We coordinated content and presentations for two Financial Education weeks in March and November.
  • Our partnership with the Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) led to the development of a handout in both English and Spanish to help clients in the Bay Area determine the best checking account options to open. During Financial Education Week, OFE brought in speakers from the IRS to talk to Ventanilla visitors about Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers, or ITINs. OFE also helped us coordinate referrals to Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) providers across the Bay Area, a service that offers free tax help to people who generally make $54,000 or less, persons with disabilities and those with limited English proficiency.
  • We worked closely with the San Jose Consulate, which has launched a collaboration with CONDUSEF in Mexico to provide an overview of financial education and products based in Mexico. This was immensely helpful because everyday we have families that come to us with questions about managing their finances in both the U.S. and Mexico. Because of the Ventanilla collaboration, we were able to provide clients with information through our FEAPI, CONDUSEF, and the Consulate. Without the Ventanilla, these families would have struggled to find the answers to their questions from the Consulates alone or from financial providers in Mexico.

Under the current administration, many immigrants are in emergency planning mode because they are concerned about deportation. MAF sprung to action and created a Financial Emergency Action Plan for Immigrants (FEAPI) to help immigrants protect their finances in the case of an emergency like detention, deportation, or family separation.

We provided this toolkit in the Bay Area at the Consulates, and at mobile consulate visits throughout California and Hawaii. To capture an even wider net of people to help, our team is currently building the FEAPI into an app to increase engagement with our community.

Come by and visit us! We have staff on-site in San Jose and San Francisco, Monday through Friday:

The success of MAF’s Ventanilla programs help us deliver on our promise to “meet clients where they are.” We’re planning on exceeding our own expectations, as we look to serve thousands of low-income and immigrant individuals through our Consulate sites in the upcoming year with financial education, coaching, tax-time savings, and 0% interest loans.

Welcome Ximena, Financial Services Manager


She brings her passion for business and community to the MAF team!

Ximena Arias joined MAF as a Financial Services Manager in May 2014. With her passion for entrepreneurship and her multicultural upbringing, she was a perfect fit for the job.

Born in Colombia, Ximena moved to the US at age 12 with her parents and younger sister. After the family settled in Miami, Florida, Ximena struggled to adjust to middle school. Luckily, her English as a Second Language classmates became a support group for her.

“We all related to each other being bi-cultural and gained an understanding of how to relate to others,” Ximena said.

Back in Colombia, Ximena’s parents ran a dental product supply business. Her father was the strategy behind the business, overseeing the operations, while her mother was the face of the business, working to bring in clients and build relationships with dentists in the area. Ximena believes she is a combination of her parents and picked up invaluable skills from both of their experiences.

Ximena loves being surrounded by diversity and describes Florida as a “big melting pot of Latin American immigrants.”

She is fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, French and some German. She attended the University of Florida and received a BA in Linguistics and Business Administration and later a Masters in International Business. After she graduated, Ximena taught English and worked with international students.

Coming to the Bay Area, Ximena wanted to give back and follow her passion for connecting people with the resources they need to make better, informed choices. She worked at Women’s Initiative for Self-Employment before coming to MAF. She appreciates the Lending Circles model because it is familiar to immigrants and practiced all over the world. In her role as Financial Services Manager, Ximena oversees small business coaching, the microloan program, financial education and local client management.
“I love the way MAF sees a bigger picture, which is critical to make a difference. It’s really accessible and replicable in a way that works with communities and partners, ” she said.

“Replicating this program is an example of how nonprofits leverage technology and I am looking forward to seeing the organization grow.”

Working in the Mission District gives Ximena fond memories of Latin America from the food to the businesses and art. Outside of work, she loves music and hopes to one day compose her own songs. She’s also really great at whistling any song you tell her! Ximena enjoys exploring the thriving community and culture of Oakland, where she lives with her husband.

Welcome to the team, Ximena!