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 realizing their true 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.
And 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 hard-working families.”

    Marisabel Torres, NCLR

  • “We have seen how families use the 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



Taking Financial Learning Beyond the Classroom

Lending Circles round out the Game Theory Academy Experience

Elena Fairley

“MacArthur Genius” Award to José Quiñonez

Among a small group of 23 awardees, Jose makes history by receiving "Financial Services Innovation" Award

Tara Robinson

Sonia: A Future Chicago Homeowner

Building Credit and Community through Lending Circles at The Resurrection Project

Elena Fairley
Diana 2 300x300

The Freedom to Move: My DACA Journey

How DACA gave me the opportunity to help others & make my parents' sacrifices count.


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.

Follow Us

Connect with us!
Find out what we're up to and how you can be involved!


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