Millions live in the financial shadows

When hardworking families can’t get car loans or own homes, they turn to payday lenders and check cashers to make ends meet. High-cost fringe financial services trap people in a cycle of debt, preventing hardworking families from unlocking their full economic potential.


54 million people are without access to affordable credit. 17 million people don’t have access to bank accounts.


1 in 4 families turn to fringe financial services for their daily needs.


Being invisible costs more. Payday lenders charge 391% to 521% interest for payday loans.

We meet hardworking families where they are.
Then we build on what they have.

the solution is simple

The solution can be found in the hidden strengths of communities across the country. People come together to lend and borrow money with each other. We connect this practice with the financial system so that borrowers can build credit and a brighter future.


People lend and borrow with each other all the time. We recognize this practice and use credit reporting to make it visible.


We help people navigate the financial marketplace and develop programs that transform everyday financial practices into savings and credit building opportunities.


We use technology to expand our programs nationwide. With a network of nonprofit providers, we are able to help low-income people across the country.

  • “One-third of people who participate in Lending Circles lack any type of credit history when they enter the program. After completing a single lending circle, these individuals can grow their credit scores to approximately 600, and gain access to mainstream credit.”

    Senator Lou Correa

  • “NCLR is happy that MAF is leading California in expanding access to safe and affordable financial resources to its hardworking families.”

    Marisabel Torres, NCLR

  • “We have seen how families use Lending Circles to reduce their debts, buy school materials for their children, buy gifts for the holidays, and invest in their small businesses.”

    Jorge Blandon, Family Independence Initiative


What Wealth Inequality Means for the Newest Americans

The racial wealth gap is real, and it's growing. But where do immigrants fit into this analysis?

Jose Quinonez

How citizenship can bring financial security to more New Yorkers

The $725 application fee is keeping one million New Yorkers from becoming citizens.

Tara Robinson

Meet Joyce, MAF’s new Finance Manager

She's a seasoned accountant with a passion for social justice

Adina Hemley-Bronstein


Lending Circles amplía la experiencia en la Game Theory Academy

Elena Fairley

as seen in


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."

MacArthur Foundation Announces 2016 ‘Genius’ Grant Winners

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

23 “Genius” Grants Announced by MacArthur Foundation

The MacArthur Foundation announces a class of 23 esteemed 2016 Fellows

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

"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."

It’s not enough to feel good about the work we do. We care about having a real, tangible impact.
That’s why we validate our programs through third-party research.
This way, we measure our impact and use data to improve our programs.

We believe everyone deserves a shot at success.
Join us in making the financial system work for everyone.

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Investing $100 generates $4,000 in social loans helping families build credit and a better future.