Tag: partners

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. 

Building a Better Bay Area


Find out how you can be part of something big

Lending Circles, selected as a top 10 finalist in the Google Impact Challenge, has given thousands of families across the U.S. an opportunity for a brighter financial future. There are currently over 203,000 families in the Bay Area unable to access affordable credit, low interest loans, and most mainstream financial services.

In order to build a better Bay Area, we want you to help us reach those families and make a difference.

With the support of Google, Y&H Soda Foundation, and Silicon Valley Community Foundation, we’re partnering with nonprofit organizations across the Bay Area to provide Lending Circles in 10 new communities.

As an official Lending Circles partner, selected organizations will get a host of partnership benefits like training, assistance and access to our online social loan platform, valued at $70,000.

We’re looking for dynamic, community-based organizations who care about providing effective, culturally competent financial services to their clients and want to use the award-winning Lending Circles program to support that goal.

If your organization is ready to bring the power of the Lending Circles to your community, check out the RFP now.

Be sure to sign up for one of our three informational sessions to find out more:

January 22nd: San Francisco

January 27th: Oakland

February 6th: Mountain View

This is an exciting opportunity to help support economic opportunity in the Bay Area and strengthen community bonds through the Lending Circles program. Will you join us to shine a bright idea on to the financial shadows and build a better Bay Area?

Fremont Family Resource Center Delivers a Recipe for Success


What is the secret to our partner Fremont Family Resource Center’s success? Find out here!

Fremont Family Resource Center (FFRC) provides wrap-around financial services that empower low-income communities throughout the tri-city area. FFRC is not just MAF’s longest active Lending Circles provider, but a star provider with a zero-percent default rate and a total loan portfolio exceeding $90,000.  Recently, I got to spend an afternoon with FFRC to learn about their ingredients for success and to strategize a successful partnership for years to come.

MAF’s “peer lending” program, as it’s called at FFRC, strengthens FFRC’s SparkPoint Financial Services program which includes financial education, one-on-one financial coaching to support participants with specific goals, employment and training services, free tax preparations, access to public benefits and legal services. FFRC’s SparkPoint goals are to increase income and savings, build credit and lower debt/income ratio.

It’s not just about increasing their credit score, but realizing larger financial goals, such as being able to finance the purchase of a reliable car so they can get to work or develop a robust credit profile to rent an apartment.

Usually I only get a snapshot of a participant’s financial history from their applications when they join the program.  Financial coaches and the program coordinator Christine LaBadie on the other hand get to see the impact of the program.  The meeting at Ohlone College was different because coaches highlighted participant’s stories for colleagues in the asset-building field.

‘Mary’, who’s name we changed for privacy, is a participant of the FFRC that stood out to me. She immigrated to the United States with her children from Nigeria in hopes of a better life. Her husband had to stay behind and sent her money whenever he could to support his family.

She had worked tirelessly to provide for her children, and even with the money from he husband she was barely scraping by. Peer lending gave her the opportunity to build her credit and save towards financial goals including buying a car.  Having reliable access to transportation was essential so that she could get to work as a caregiver. After building her credit, ‘Mary’ was able to pick up a second part time job with Amazon, and the extra income will help her family considerably.

‘Mary’ is on currently on track and working hard to accomplish her goals through the one-on-one support of FFRC’s financial coaches and the community support and credit building tools in the Lending Circles program.

Catrina Rivera is another client who is doing very well.  She used Peer Lending twice and raised her score 96 points!   She has two part-time jobs and wants to open her own tax business someday which is why she’s raising her credit score.  She’s also a volunteer for our free tax program (VITA) which has provided her with much additional education and an IRS certification on tax preparation.

She was very determined to raise her score and believes in education.  She took our financial class 3 times!  She was required to take  the first one we offered – MoneySmart, then opted to take Credit Repair when we launched that, and then this year she repeated Credit Repair.  When asked why, she said there’s so much good info there that she didn’t want to miss anything! She’s working very hard to increase her score and is now working on her business plan for her tax business.“

LaBadie shares that the key ingredient is a lot of financial coaching and education.

I believe a successful portfolio often involves partners that have a strong relationship with your community.  Contact a partner manager to explore how Lending Circle programs can complement your organization’s existing programs and services.

FFRC is one of the most consistent Lending Circles partners, offering Lending Circles about four times per year. MAF has not had to charge off a single loan originated by the organization ever.  I know that the stellar performance of their loan portfolio is largely due to the financial coaching and one-on-one support given to each individual participant.


The Fremont FRC is a welcoming place where families and individuals are nurtured, encouraged, and provided quality services to build on their own strengths to help themselves and others. FFRC partners with Mission Asset Fund as part of SparkPoint, a program of the United Way of the Bay Area. The City of Fremont Human Services Department/FRC Division is the Lead FRC partner and operates its Peer Lending Program. Fremont FRC to organize lending circles so that participants are able build their credit and save towards financial goals.  FFRC has originated about $90,000 in loan with a zero percent default rate.

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.

Financial Pride through Lending Circles


Find out how MAF & the San Francisco LGBT center have allied themselves to help all families gain financial stability to thrive.

The San Francisco LGBT Center, as part of it’s 7th annual bi-coastal LGBT Economic Justice Week, awarded three exemplary community members and one community organization for their work in ensuring the economic stability, and mobility of the LGBT community.

MAF was honored to be chosen as the winner of this year’s Ally Award.

MAF has been talked about a lot lately. We’ve been recognized by various groups in many ways for the work that we do. The national recognition has been tremendous, but accepting the Ally Award at the LGBT Center on behalf of MAF was a particularly special moment for me.

Bank of the West representative Justin Knepper presented the award with the following introduction, “The partnership between MAF and the Center has served as a crucial resource for the local LGBTQ community, granting clients access to secure, affordable and socially responsible capital – opening doors that previously were far too often slammed shut. Participation in a MAF-powered Lending Circle at the LGBT Center has helped more than 150 clients to save money, develop their credit histories, boost their credit scores, and improve their overall financial health.”

For seven years the San Francisco LGBT Center has been creating visibility around the financial shadows that many LGBT people find themselves in.

In San Francisco alone less than 50% of economically stable LGBT couples own property. LGBT youth are twice as likely as their peers to find themselves homeless or in a state of economic uncertainty. We’ve worked with many LGBT couples who have been living in the financial shadows. I shared the story of Edgar and Gustavo, a couple who experience financial instability because they are undocumented and LGBT.

For me, standing on this stage with Celve Jones, Miss Major, and Dr. Kortney Zeigler, people who have fought hard for their communities, and have become icons of movement building and empowerment is an honor. Just being mentioned with these amazing community leaders is a testament to how Lending Circles are building bridges toward brighter futures for communities across the nation.

MAF will continue to work closely with the LGBT Center, to be an ally to all families, no matter what form they take. MAF will continue to bring our voice to highlight the issues of financial invisibility and uncertainty among the LGBT community. MAF will continue to help all communities out of the financial shadows and create pathways toward the financial mainstream.

We want to help everyone move past just surviving, we want to see them thrive. The stronger our families are, the stronger our communities become.

Let’s Buddy Up: Joining the Lending Circle network


MAF collaborates with CABO to expand Lending Circles in Los Angeles

When the Assets & Opportunities Network convened in December, Andrew Chang and I had just met, but we ignited a friendship that compelled us to find a way for our two organizations, MAF and CABO, to expand Lending Circles in Los Angeles.

Fortunately, the JPMC technical assistance fund for A&O Members, along with support from Citi and key funders, enabled us to organize a “roadshow” presentation on the Lending Circle model with CABO network members, as well as lead an in-person training for MAOF and CCNP, MAF’s two newest Lending Circle providers.

The roadshow on June 4th and training on June 6th sandwiched well with the CFSI 2014 EMERGE Forum, where MAF CEO Jose Quinonez served as a panelist. Coming full, dare I say “lending circle”, just a couple years before, MAF received an award from CFSI to expand Lending Circles through the Bay Area. Since then, MAF had not only proven through an academic evaluation the success of individual participants including credit score increases and debt reduction, but the ability to replicate the model through non-profit organizations in other areas.

Now MAF is providing Lending Circles through partner non-profit organizations in 11 states.

MAF is looking to expand further, including New York, Texas, Florida, Chicago, the Mid-atlantic.  MAF had been able to scale, and will continue to even more by employing innovative technology including online financial education and web-based trainings through a new “Lending Circle Communities” platform.

MAF’s roadshow took place at the United Way in Los Angeles. Over ten financial coaches within the CABO Network participated to learn about Lending Circles, a culturally relevant model of social lending and affordable, responsible product to build credit and realize larger financial goals.

Though the challenge of accessing affordable credit is not unique, there are certain ways of course this plays out for local communities, like the unbanked community in Los Angeles.

Andrew shared for example, how Los Angelinos with thin credit files often borrow at a 25% interest rate for a used vehicle at “Buy Here, Pay Here” car dealership.  GPS tracking devices and “kill switch” allow the vehicle to be easily repossessed in instances of default.

California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that makes installing these devices illegal without the consent of the borrower, but sub-prime borrowers often have few alternatives.  They also end up paying more for less without a responsible alternative to establish credit before taking out a loan.

Since moving to Oakland four years ago from New York, I have gotten used to relying on public transportation, but I quickly learned during what felt like a family road trip to Universal Studies, that having access to a safe and reliable vehicle is not just a part of the car culture, but a necessity in Los Angeles.

Better credit, not only means more saving, but more financial security and peace of mind, so that hard-working families can get to work and take care of their families.

I look forward to the next A&O convening to share our story of collaboration with other organizations in the asset-building field.


Lending Circles son bienvenidos a Miami!


Find out how MAF is making waves in Miami!

Jose, Daniela, and I set off to visit a promising new community to bring the Lending Circles program, Miami! I had been waiting for this day ever since I joined MAF. Now the day was here and it fell on Cinco de Mayo! On my way to the hotel, I decided to take a detour down Flagler Street, one of the main arteries of Miami community, the busy street runs right through little Havana and leads directly to downtown Miami.

I was not surprised to see that this vibrant street was share many similarities with MAF’s home in the historic Mission District of San Francisco.

Unfortunately one of the similarities was that it was riddled with check cashing and payday lenders. It was a visual reminder of why we were there and it gave me a better sense of what opportunities the nonprofits in the area we striving to create. Needless to say, I felt amped to deliver the presentation the next day.

Throughout Miami folks were preparing for Cinco de Mayo, I was preparing to give a presentation on how Lending Circles can transform communities. We entered the Miami JP Morgan Chase headquarters, as people began filtering in off of the warm Miami streets.  The sweet smell of Rosa Mexicano filled the room, while I have to say San Francisco has some amazing Mexican food, I will say that this was a close second.

At first with everyone entering and networking it was hard to judge the amount of people coming to hear about MAF’s Lending Circles.

As the the presentation started, I noticed that more people were coming in! By the time the presentation had ended people were lining the edges of the room. It was invigorating to feel everyone’s energy and to hear from the audience themselves the opportunities they saw by having Lending Circles serve their local community.

The next day I had the pleasure of doing a site visit with one of the local nonprofits, Catalyst, who had come to hear about what a partnership with MAF could do for them and their communities. They are a nonprofit in Dade County that acts as a diverse resource to jump start families and community members in a path towards success, a true catalyst.

The Catalyst team (Terry and Gretchen) gave me a warm welcome and gave me a wonderful tour of their site. I couldn’t help but admire their art work, some very personal, some that their own members had created, and of course some just completely awesome.

Overall it was an amazing experience. It was truly great to meet the JP Morgan Chase team and all the nonprofits that are working hard to make their communities a better place for families.

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