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.