Month: July 2015

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Until recently, my time spent in Texas was limited to a single quick stop over after a study abroad program in Santiago, Chile. I barely had any time to take in the beautiful landscapes seemingly painted on the DFW windows before I was back up in the air again. That’s why I was thrilled to be asked to take some time to head to Houston with our CEO, Jose, to headline an event about Lending Circles for a large group of community-based organizations. I didn’t know what to expect.

IMG_2967My eyes were wide with anticipation as Jose told me about what I would be doing.

I was eager with anticipation to speak to a larger, new audience about the credit building benefits that Lending Circles.

Sure, I talk on the phone to partner organizations throughout the nation every week, and I often lead webinars for partners, but to present in a non-virtual way felt foreign (although refreshing). Everyday is a new adventure at MAF, but there’s always a comfortable structure to that adventure. I typically know which of my coworkers I will need to talk to and what questions to ask them. I was grateful for the opportunity to meet with so many valuable organizations face-to-face.

With a few butterflies in my stomach and an open mind as I left my hotel, I hopped in an Uber and made my way to the United Way of Greater Houston’s office. JP Morgan Chase, Experian and The United Way were coming together to help us host an event so we could talk to nonprofits in Houston about joining our nationwide network of Lending Circles providers.

My Uber driver, James, told me about the amazing diversity of the Houston community as he drove me through the city. He talked about all the new cultures that were growing together and the new little enclaves and neighborhoods that were popping up – it sounded wonderful. He said that this renaissance had accelerated recently due to an impressive population growth in recent years. I loved the thought of being in a city that was growing together at such an amazing pace.

But I knew the stakes, too. The Houston Metro Area has a very high number of unbanked and underbanked families (39%). That’s more than 1/3 of families in the Houston area that are underbanked and credit invisible.

IMG_2010On top of that, 43.9% of Houston families are considered to be “liquid asset impoverished” (that means they don’t have access to adequate credit are one emergency expense away from long term financial disaster). It only made my purpose of speaking about the power that Lending Circles can provide even more critical. By the time all attendees were seated with coffee and breakfast, over 70 representatives from Texas nonprofits were in the room! We were energized by the tremendous turn-out.

The presentation started with the United Way of Greater Houston welcoming all of the attendees, followed by short introductions from Carol Urton of Experian and Yvette Ruiz of JP Morgan Chase. Jose then dove, fearlessly, into speaking about who MAF as an organization and how it formalized the concept of individuals coming together to financially support one another.

Following Jose’s lead, I walked up to the podium and took my place, beginning with the respective responsibilities for the participant and the partner to get clients enrolled and Lending Circles created. It was key to emphasize to this group of potential providers how the transition to a more robust social loan platform has made the expansion of 40+ Lending Circles partnerships possible in states like Texas, a platform that is designed around the capacity and user experiences of both partners and clients.

I was humbled by the engagement of the crowd.

It was clear that almost everyone knew each other from the way each person greeted one another like old friends do. Although everyone at the event was a new acquaintance for me, two staff members from a Lending Circle partner attended: the Houston-based Chinese Community Center. This partner is one of five current providers offering Lending Circles in Texas: Family Pathfinders, YWCA Fort Worth, and El Paso Collaborative, a new partner signed in April 2015.

The only question that remains: which one of the 70 Houston organizations will I get to work with next?

 

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KANSAS CITY, Mo.—At the National Affiliate Luncheon held today at the 2015 NCLR Annual Conference in Kansas City, Mo., NCLR (National Council of La Raza) recognized two community-based organizations that belong to the NCLR Affiliate Network for their outstanding efforts to empower Latino families and broaden opportunities available to them. This year’s awardees are Mission Asset Fund in San Francisco and Guadalupe Centers, Inc. in Kansas City, Mo.

“We are honoring Mission Asset Fund and Guadalupe Centers at the 2015 NCLR Annual Conference for work that has transformed the lives of young Latinos and their families. Their dedication and success strengthen our entire community,” said Janet Murguía, President and CEO, NCLR. “We applaud these exemplary organizations and their innovative approach to helping the Hispanic communities in Kansas City and San Francisco gain access to safe credit and affordable health care.”

Presented annually, the NCLR Family Strengthening Awards honor two NCLR-affiliated community-based organizations for their commitment to bolstering the success and strength of the Hispanic community through a combination of programs and services. Each recipient receives a $5,000 cash award to further their work in the community and their partnership with NCLR.

Founded in 2007, Mission Asset Fund works to create a fair financial marketplace for hardworking and low-income families who lack the access and resources to reach their financial goals. The organization was recognized for its innovative Lending Circles program, a zero-interest credit-building social loans program designed to help weave low-income families into the financial mainstream. The program enables participants to build credit scores and credit histories and achieve financial stability.

“We are thrilled to be chosen as this year’s recipient of the NCLR Family Strengthening Award,” said Jose Quinonez, CEO of Mission Asset Fund. “This recognition from NCLR helps us pave the way toward a fair financial marketplace for hardworking families in the U.S. Together, we expand access to thousands of credit invisibles across the country, ensuring they aren’t stuck with predatory loans from payday lenders and instead are building on the strengths of their community to take the next financial steps in their lives.”

Established nearly a century ago in 1919, Guadalupe Centers, Inc. in Kansas City, Mo., is the oldest operating community-based organization for Latinos in the United States. Enhancing the quality of life for Hispanics through a comprehensive set of educational, social, recreational and cultural services, Guadalupe Centers, Inc. is improving the lives of Latino families. The group was recognized for its launch of the Guadalupe Educational Systems, a charter school program that provides a rigorous and enriching learning experience for Latino K–12 students. Through this program, Guadalupe Centers, Inc. is helping remedy the educational gaps affecting Kansas City Latinos and empowering young students to reach their full potential.

“Throughout 96 years of service, Guadalupe Centers, Inc. has provided educational programs for the Latino community. We appreciate the collaboration with NCLR in these endeavors and are honored to receive this recognition,” said Cris Medina, CEO, Guadalupe Centers, Inc.

NCLR—the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States—works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans. For more information on NCLR, please visit www.nclr.org or follow along on Facebook and Twitter.

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Lending Circles to Debut in Washington, D.C. to Help Individuals and Entrepreneurs Build Credit

Latino Economic Development Center and Northern Virginia Family Service launch peer-to-peer lending program in partnership with MAF and Capital One

Washington, D.C. – July 8, 2015Latino Economic Development Center and Northern Virginia Family Service today announced the launch of DMV Lending Circles, a new peer-to-peer lending program in Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland, through a partnership with MAF that helps low-income Hispanic communities safely build credit with zero-interest loans. Loan payments made through Lending Circles are reported to credit bureaus, and the average credit score increase for participants is 168 points.

Lending Circles draws on the immigrant tradition of peer borrowing to empower members of communities to support one another. Participants make monthly loan payments and take turns receiving zero-interest social loans ranging from $500 to $2,500. All loan payments are reported to credit bureaus, enabling participants to build a credit history, raise credit scores and work towards greater financial stability.

“LEDC’s asset-building programs around homeownership and entrepreneurship are most successful when clients start with a solid credit history,” said Marla Bilonick, executive director, LEDC. “We were so excited to be selected by MAF to provide Lending Circles to DC area clients because credit-building is a critical piece for achieving financial empowerment and building wealth. Lending Circles give LEDC another tool to help our clients improve their financial well-being and fulfill their dreams.”

“Our clients are hardworking, extraordinarily motivated entrepreneurs. The NVFS Escala Program simply provides them with the missing skills and information to help them overcome barriers that many low-income immigrants face when starting a business,” said Adrienne Kay, Escala program manager, NVFS. “One of those barriers is credit and access to capital, and we are thrilled that through our partnership with MAF, our clients will access affordable loans, build credit history, and prepare for a financially stable future.”

According to a recent report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), one in every 10 adults does not have any credit history with a nationwide consumer reporting agency, making it incredibly challenging for them to do anything that requires a credit score, including getting an education, starting a business, renting a car or buying a home. This same report found that Hispanic consumers and consumers in low-income neighborhoods are more likely to have no credit history or not enough current credit history to produce a credit score.

 “Without credit scores, there are no ‘good options’ when you want to start a business or get a small loan,” said Jose A. Quinonez, CEO, MAF. “Now, with the support of Capital One and partners like LEDC and NVFS, together we are providing a solution that works right here in the nation’s capital.”

LEDC, NVFS, MAF and Capital One will celebrate the launch of Lending Circles at an event taking place on July 8th at WeWork’s offices in Washington, D.C., where DMV Lending Circle members will speak about their experience and success with the program.

“Having a strong credit history is essential for individuals to thrive in today’s economy and ensure their financial well-being,” said Daniel Delehanty, Senior Director, Community Development Banking, Capital One. “As Greater Washington’s hometown bank, Capital One is proud to partner with LEDC and NVFS and support the regional expansion of Lending Circles, leveraging technology, credit reporting and MAF’s proven track record of harnessing the power of community to have a positive impact on individual economic success and stability.”

In addition, as part of their Building Entrepreneurial Economies program, the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development has partnered with NVFS to further the expansion of Lending Circles in Virginia, with a particular emphasis on Prince William County.

For more information on Lending Circles, please visit lendingcircles.org

 


 

About MAF and Lending Circles

MAF is a San Francisco-based nonprofit on a mission to create a fair financial marketplace for hardworking families. Its social loan program, Lending Circles, helps hardworking families access a zero-interest loan, receive financial education, and start building a credit history safely and effectively. People around the world lend and borrow with each other when bank loans aren’t an option. With technology and credit reporting, Lending Circles transforms this traditional practice to help borrowers access affordable loans, build credit history, and build financial stability. Social loan programs have demonstrated their ability to help people open bank accounts, avoid predatory lenders, and quickly and safely build their credit history. Lending Circles provides a safe and reliable way for hard working families to save money, pay down high cost debt, and break free of predatory lenders, while building the credit they need to thrive. For more information about MAF, visit: missionassetfund.org or lendingcircles.org.

About the Latino Economic Development Center

The Latino Economic Development Corporation/Center (LEDC) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization incorporated in 1991 in response to civil disturbances in the Mount Pleasant community. For 24 years, we have delivered comprehensive community and economic development services to build the capacity of DC area Latino and other underserved families. LEDC’s mission is to drive the economic and social advancement of low- to moderate- income Latinos and other D.C. area residents by equipping them with the skills and tools to achieve financial independence and become leaders in their communities. LEDC achieves its mission through four key service areas: small business development, microlending, affordable housing preservation; and homeownership and foreclosure counseling. We operate out of our Headquarters in Washington, DC and two satellite offices in Wheaton and Baltimore, Maryland.

About Escala

Escala, Northern Virginia Family Service’s Small Business Program for entrepreneurs, provides one-on-one small business development consulting and coursework to low- and mid-income families living in Northern Virginia. The program aims to assist clients in overcoming barriers to launch and grow sustainable businesses that increase household incomes, create jobs, and contribute to the local economy.

About Capital One

Capital One Financial Corporation, headquartered in McLean, Virginia, is a Fortune 500 company with branch locations primarily in New York, New Jersey, Texas, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Its subsidiaries, Capital One, N.A. and Capital One Bank (USA), N. A., offer a broad spectrum of financial products and services to consumers, small businesses and commercial clients. As part of its ongoing commitment to communities across the country, Capital One recently launched Future Edge, a $150 million commitment to empower more Americans to succeed in a digitally-driven economy through community grants and initiatives over the next five years. To learn more about Future Edge and other Capital One initiatives please visit

www.capitaloneinvestingforgood.com.

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