Month: May 2014

Calling all Dreamers

One of the things I find so empowering about our work at MAF is seeing young leaders follow their passion and give back to the community. Jesus Castro is one of those leaders who joined Lending Circle for Dreamers and has gone on to advocate for immigrant youth. I interviewed him about an exciting public service announcement he has developed with the SF Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs to raise awareness about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

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How did you get involved with the SF Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs?

The first time I came in contact with the Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs (OCEIA), or more specifically OCEIA’s director, Adrienne Pon, was at the Coro Annual Luncheon. After giving a speech on how Coro’s Exploring Leadership Program changed my life, several people came up to me to congratulate me, and discuss my career path, I was really honored. A couple minutes after Director Pon approached me and I think she stood out to me the most because of her offices name. I am very passionate about the fight for immigrants and, their name being The Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant affairs just caught my eye right away that’s when I knew that I wanted to get that internship more than anything.

What was the purpose of the PSA video?

The PSA’s purpose was to create a useful outreach tool to educate people about DACA and encourage them to come forward and apply. We were also hoping to incorporate it in our one year of DACA event this in celebration of DACA’s one year anniversary, so in response this PSA video came into play. During the process there were some hiccups and the video was delayed but with help from an awesome friend, and my own little grain of sand the video was finally completed and it’s now on YouTube. The video is also posted on our dreamSF website.

How did you feel sharing your personal story in the video?

Sharing my story is something that I really enjoy doing not only because it empowers others to share their stories, but also because it also gives me the strength and courage to keep sharing my story.  It’s a domino effect they need a little courage from others to share their stories, and these people’s positive feedback gives the person telling their story the courage to keep doing sharing.

What are some reasons DACA eligible youth have not applied yet?

I can’t know for sure and I can’t speak on behalf of those who haven’t yet applied for DACA, but if I were to guess why they haven’t applied I would say it’s because of the fact that they don’t have the money to do so. The cost to apply for DACA is $465 which is a huge investment and many people are also unfamiliar with the application process and what it takes to renew, so we need to provide the right educational and financial resources.

How did you find out about MAF?

Mission Asset Fund (MAF) has definitely played a huge role in my life. The first time I heard about them was through Legal Services for Children, the organization that helped me with my DACA application process. They suggested that I go to MAF for financial assistance because at the time they were offering a $155 scholarship for DACA applicants on top of their lending services to pay for the DACA application. I joined what they call Lending Circles for Dreamers were I got a step by step on filling in the application in order to receive the check that would pay for my application. Now, the program offers participants an opportunity to get a group loan and save so you can pay for your application.

What are some other ways the city is trying to assist immigrants?

Specifically, our office is assisting immigrants with language access, naturalization services and in terms of DACA youth/adult immigrants, we are launching a dreamsf fellows program that is specifically for DACA approved people and we have a Pathways to Citizenship initiative.

What are your hopes for comprehensive immigration reform?

A comprehensive immigration reform would be exceptional for all immigrants that currently reside in the U.S. I’m sure this comprehensive reform is around the corner but we just all have to make an effort in the process and show an interest in it. We currently have DACA but what about our parents and those who don’t meet the requirements for DACA? Not every undocumented person qualifies for DACA so many families are being broken up while immigration reforms is at a standstill. We need to move forward or our communities suffer.

What does civic engagement mean to you and how it is important in your life?

To me, it’s the 2nd chapter to my story. I have been with OCEIA for 2 years now and it’s really a home away from home. I can’t thank Director Pon enough for giving me the opportunity to be part of her team. Since the beginning of my internship the work has been tough, and I mean that in the most thankful way. Thankful because from all the work that I have done I know feel better prepared me for whatever other job comes my way. I also want to thank Richard Whipple he has been there every step of the way. He not only guides me through work challenges but also through life’s challenges. Although I have done a lot with OCEIA, this is only the beginning.  I am still looking forward to many years with them, and as OCEIA grows, I will as well.


 

NesimaNesima Aberra is the Marketing Associate and New Sector Fellow at Mission Asset Fund. She loves storytelling, social good and a good cup of tea. You can reach her at [email protected].

 

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ju Blog

 

Ju Hong is a man of few limitations. He is a research assistant with Harvard University, on the National UnDACAmented Research Project (NURP), a coordinator at the Men’s Center on the Laney College Campus, a graduate student at San Francisco State University and newly crowned Mr. Hyphen.

Ju is the ideal of the American Dream, Ju is undocumented. He came to the United States from South Korea when he was younger with his mother who wanted a better life for her children.

“My mother works two jobs at restaurant, twelve hours a day, seven days a week, and never had a vacation ever since she arrived to this country. She is tough,” says Ju.

As an undocumented student, Ju was unable to get a job, access financial aid, and get a driver’s license. Ju took his mother’s example and decided he was going to work as hard as he could to make her proud. That’s when Ju heard about a contest hosted by Hyphen Magazine. With this contest, he saw a chance to bring visibility to the lives of undocumented immigrant populations.

BlpNRg1CUAAXspFCreating Visibility

“Hyphen magazine was a great avenue to highlight a critical immigration issue. One out of seven Korean immigrants are undocumented. Asians are now the largest group of new immigrants in this country. The AAPI community cannot ignore this issue. In fact, the AAPI community should engage in the conversation and join in efforts to push for a fair and humane comprehensive immigration reform.”

Of the 11 million undocumented people in the United States, 1.3 million are Asian, many of whom are youth who have lived most of their lives in the United States. But it costs $680 just to apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a substantial barrier standing in the way of for hardworking families like Hong’s.

A Circle of Support

When Ju first came to Mission Asset Fund he was looking for a way to build his credit now that his DACA application was approved, and access the financial education he needed to succeed. During the Lending Circle program Ju gained the financial skills, money, and credit he needed.

“I decided to apply for the Lending Circles program with five other undocumented students. The Lending Circle has given me an opportunity to better understand credit, loan programs, and finance in general.”

Ju received DACA, his work authorization and driver’s license. Now, Ju has started making plans for the future. He no longer feels the stigma and pressure of being undocumented, and he wants to make sure that no one has to feel that way either. After he finishes his graduate studies at San Francisco State, he plans on working to make immigrant communities healthier and happier through public service.

This is a dream that is driven by his admiration for his mother. “My mother is my best friend, my mentor, and my role model. One day, I want to be like my mother, becoming more of a risk taker, hard-worker, and never giving up on a dream.”

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Our new website has been a labor of love for us at MAF, but we couldn’t have delivered the product without the brilliant design team at Digital Telepathy. Nate, Brent, and Eduardo were nice enough to take time out of their busy schedule to share their perspective on what the design thinking behind MAF’s rebrand and the importance of the user experience in furthering our mission to create a fair financial marketplace for all families.

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What are some current design trends that inspire you and the team?

Lately design has been moving towards minimalism. Trendy designs are flat and have more white space than they used to have.

This trend is very much in line with our formula for “betterment” of our designs.

Betterment = Simple + Compelling – Friction

What was the process like for coming up with the new MAF and Lending Circles logo?

Very collaborative – for the MAF logo we started with the core concepts of the organization and worked with company stakeholders to sketch our initial ideas in a workshop format. Each of us, MAF stakeholders included, contributed a number of sketches for consideration. We collectively decided on a direction and our designs moved from there.

How did you incorporate storytelling and infographics into the user experience?

MAF has so many inspiring stories to tell; the success of the organization can easily be seen by looking at its members.  We were able to partner with a photographer to produce compelling imagery that does a great job of telling the story of MAF.  We worked to create designs that would showcase these images and also created some supporting illustrations to highlight some of the statistics that support MAF’s cause.

How do you approach Objective Based Design for nonprofits like MAF?

The answer is in the name of our service – Objective Based Design. At most place, projects are begun with the end in mind… the team works furiously to build “something”. Our service is unique in that our primary focus is on achieving a specific objective.

In MAF’s case, we knew one of the reasons they are successful is their ability to meet people where they’re at, speaking to them on a person to person level. We kept this in mind going into design, looking to create something visually appealing and at the same time speaking to the audience in a very approachable and direct manner.

What was a memorable or challenging part of the MAF or Lending Circle website design process?

Our kickoff design workshop for the Lending Circle site was really great.  We had stakeholders from MAF and members of their development team come to our offices. We were able to cover a lot of ground because we had all the right people in the same room.  It was a ton of fun, everyone got involved in sketching out ideas and we were able to get alignment between all parties on our work for the next couple of months.  We had such a good time that we actually wrote a blog post about it!

What do you want users to come away with when they visit the new sites?

We want website visitors to feel connected to the cause. Putting actual stories of neighbors helping neighbors through lending circles (social loans) helps a website visitors understand how they can make a difference in someone else’s life.

How do you measure the success of a website?

That’s a complicated answer. A website is a tool for marketing, communication, PR, etc. So much of a website’s effectiveness is influenced by the rest of the ecosystem to which it belongs. For MAF, there are both quantitative metrics (how many visitors became donors) and qualitative metrics (effective application of brand messaging).

We hope you’re as wowed by Digital Telepathy as we are. Get in touch with them here!

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Yeral

Yeral was born in Chimbote, a coastal city in Peru. He has two brothers and two sisters. His mother had her own business and his dad worked in the field. After his parents divorced, he would go back and forth between them helping them work during his vacation. He would travel with his mother for her grocery business and then go to his dad who later worked in a restaurant. Yeral loved food and enjoyed working in the kitchen, preparing and cooking classic Peruvian meals.

It was there he began to dream of becoming a chef.

Yeral had a solid background to succeed as a restaurateur but coming to the United States for more opportunities brought on additional challenges. The two major ones he faced were the language barrier and not having a Social Security Number.

When Yeral would look for banks to give him a loan for his business, he was always blocked by not having a Social Security Number.

“Even though there was lot of difficulties, I was patient and had faith. I was convinced that the money would come because I had my idea of what I wanted to do,” Yeral said.

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In 2011, Yeral was introduced to MAF through our staff members Joel and Doris. He credits them for reaching out to him, particularly because they both could speak Spanish with him and explained how MAF could help.

Yeral felt comfortable sharing his problems and his future plans to open his own restaurant. He went on to join two Lending Circles to build up his credit and applied for a microloan to invest in equipment and products for his business.

Yeral said his life has changed dramatically since coming to MAF. He feels more stable emotionally and economically and believes he can succeed as an entrepreneur.

His restaurant  Cholo Soy opened two years ago and he said it’s been “growing and growing.” Cholo Soy features a changing menu of Peruvian dishes like ceviche and Cabrito Norteno de Cordero (lamb shank). He cares deeply about creating a variety of dishes and highlighting the culinary offerings of all the regions in Peru to his customers.

Cholo Soy is growing in reputation. It’s on the first floor of Plaza Adelante building in the Mission District and currently only serves lunch. Once he has the capacity to do more, Yeral would like to be open all day from breakfast to dinner, hire more employees and move to a bigger location. aji-ceviche-3

“My dream is to have many restaurants all over the country like a corporation and I manage them from the central location,” Yeral said.

His proudest moments have been when an article came out that gave Cholo Soy rave reviews and when senior city officials came to the restaurant and told him he served the best ceviche they’d ever tasted.

“When they say they want to eat my food, it makes me proud of my name and of my work,” he said. It’s not hard to see the passion and determination in Yeral’s eyes as he stands behind the small counter of Cholo Soy and happily passes out his food to the customers sitting on the bench in front of him. Despite the challenges of being an immigrant, he remains optimistic and even offered advice to other aspiring entrepreneurs.

“Don’t stop believing in your dreams. I believe in myself and that my food is great. There will be critics but don’t think about them. Just believe in yourself.”

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Vote MAF for a better bay area

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We are excited to announce that Mission Asset Fund is a top 10 finalist in the Bay Area Google Impact Challenge, a competition for local nonprofits to share their vision for innovation in the Bay Area community! We were chosen from over 1,000 local nonprofit organizations for the honor. It was a pretty crazy day at the office when we heard the news!

Opportunity Google LUCEROThis is a defining moment for all of us who have been working hard to create a fair financial marketplace for hardworking families. We’re so grateful for the recognition and this unique opportunity to take our work to the next level.

The Challenge

For the next 12 days, anyone in the world can vote for up to four of their favorite nonprofits (but only once!) from anywhere in the world, on computer or mobile phone.

The top four votegetters by June 2nd receive a $500,000 grant, technical assistance from Google and free co-working space!

Why you should vote MAF

edit_mohandorisBecause we believe a better Bay Area is a place where entrepreneurs can afford to start their businesses, students can pay for college tuition, immigrants can apply for DACA and citizenship, and hardworking families can access credit.

There are 203,000 Bay Area families are struggling to get affordable loans, cash checks, rent apartments, or set up utilities. On average, 9.5% of their pay goes toward predatory lenders’ fees, trapping them in a cycle of debt and poverty. Over the next two years, we plan to partner with 28 nonprofits to offer our Lending Circles program which would give thousands of low-income individuals access to interest-free social loans and financial education. Together, we can build the financial capability of hardworking families so they can achieve their dreams.

 

Vote Here

 

Don’t forget to share our posts on social media to get your networks to #VOTEMAF!

We’ve got 12 days to make it to the top four.

Let’s do this!

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