Month: January 2015

Building a Better Bay Area


BBA Slide 1

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.

BBA Slide 3With 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?

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Rosa: The Long Road to Citizenship



After a lifelong career as a teacher in El Salvador, Rosa decided to move to the US. After her sister got her housing papers, Rosa left her sons, students and her life behind to pick up and move on July 23rd, 2009 – a date she procures without a moment’s hesitation. Nearly 5 years since that date, she is happy to say she is now living in San Francisco as a U.S. citizen.

Rosa’s childhood makes it pretty clear that she is willing to follow her dreams no matter what others may think. 

Growing up in El Salvador with her grandmother and six siblings, Rosa lived a humble life. Her grandmother owned cows and goats and made sour cream and cheese from their milk. Rosa would sell these goods to a local market.

Though her grandmother hoped she would become a nurse, Rosa realized pretty quickly that her aversion to the sight of blood might make that impossible. She, instead, envisioned a life as a teacher.

After a 25 year long career as a high school science teacher, she can say she brought her dream to life.

To this day, her former students will stop her on the street or message her on Facebook thanking her for all that she taught them. These moments have made up some of her favorite times as a teacher. Her two sons, who still reside in El Salvador, have come to love their careers as an entrepreneur and a captain in the military just as much.

Rosa found her way to MAF through her sister who was a client at MEDA getting support to launch her own business. Her sister heard of the Lending Circles program and thought it would be the perfect way for Rosa to save the money necessary for the citizenship application.

The decision to join the Lending Circles program was relatively easy for Rosa.

IMG_7798She was familiar with the concept having taken part in informal lending circles back in El Salvador with her fellow teachers. It was even easier to join a Lending Circle at MAF when she learned of the strong history of success for its members.

Rosa believed so much in the power of Lending Circles that she joined another before even finishing her first and has been part of 5 in total in an effort to continually build her credit.

The Lending Circles program eases the financial burdens of becoming a US citizen by allowing participants to build their credit while making monthly payments towards the high $680 application fee. Once participants are ready to apply, they receive a check made out to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. For Rosa this meant she could focus her attention on all the other difficult aspects of the process; the largest of which was the language barrier. Rosa studied for the English exam for over a year. All of this effort was for an interview that would last her only about 10 minutes.

Immediately after the interview, Rosa learned that she had passed and was to become a citizen. Upon hearing the news, she thanked God for this opportunity and felt a wave of happiness come over her. With her US citizenship, she can now travel freely to El Salvador lessening the strain on her visits to family.

Rosa’s story perfectly exemplifies the character of our members. We showed her the door, and she had the strength to walk through it.

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As we welcome the new year, we’d like to take a moment to recognize our outstanding Board of Directors – seven amazing people who provide the vision and wisdom for our work.  It’s with bittersweet emotions that we say goodbye to three founding board members: Board Chair Anamaria Loya, Secretary Santiago (Sam) Ruiz, Member Oscar Grande.

Anamaria Loya
Anamaria Loya

Through their guidance over the years, we were able to turn what was born in the Mission into a program that is flourishing across the country, helping thousands of families build brighter financial futures.

Nearly 10 years ago, these three leaders joined a volunteer committee tasked with an exciting opportunity: Investing $1 million from the sale of a Levi Strauss factory to benefit the Mission District.

Sam Ruiz
Sam Ruiz

Where others may have seen the funding as a chance to bolster existing organizations, Anamaria,Oscar, and Sam believed in doing something different.

They dared to envision the possibility of an entirely new organization built by the community out of their ideas and concerns.

After months of interviewing, meeting and having conversations with community members, the idea for Mission Asset Fund began to surface. Thanks to their efforts, the need for an organization dedicated to building credit and creating pathways out of the financial shadows was discovered.

Oscar Grande
Oscar Grande

Anamaria, Sam and Oscar provided invaluable insight and leadership. MAF would not be what it is today if not for their dedication and vision.

Words cannot fully express our gratitude for their support over all these years.  On behalf of all MAFistas, we thank you!  

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