The Family Independence Initiative (FII) invites you to join us in congratulating our friend and partner, José A. Quiñonez, CEO and Founder of Mission Asset Fund.
Last week, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation named Quiñonez and twenty-two other remarkable individuals with a MacArthur Fellowship — also known as a Genius Grant. Quinones is being awarded for his work as a financial services innovator; in 2007 he launched Mission Asset Fund to formalize the lending circles that have existed, informally, for generations in low-income immigrant communities. Mission Asset Fund then uses reports of communities’ lending activity to build their credit scores and set them on a path to prosperity.
FII is familiar with the importance of lending circles because many of our families use them as a tool for building stability and economic growth. Although as of 2010, 26 million American consumers in the United States were credit invisible, and an additional 19 million consumers had credit records that cannot be scored, data from organizations like Mission Asset Fund and FII shows that low-income families across the country are banking on each other:creating and participating in lending circles, community fund drives, and collective capital projects, such as purchasing and renovating homes together. Further, an Urban Institute Study reports that although 75% of the 43 million Americans living in poverty move themselves above the federal poverty line within four years, 30% cycle back into poverty within three years. This is because of the resource and investment gap that exists for families with poor or invisible credit, who cannot compete for resources in mainstream financial institutions like their middle class peers.
To date, Mission Asset Fund has made it possible for over 250 FII families to formalize their existing lending circles. As a result, our participants are:
- Reducing their debt
- Purchasing school supplies for their children
- Opening small business
We know we are just getting started. Thanks to visionaries like Quiñonez, FII families and others like them have an opportunity to be recognized by formal financial systems and move toward economic mobility. Mission Asset Fund has played a critical role in collaborating with FII as we leverage the natural capacity and ingenuity of families, and we are proud to call them our partner. With appreciation for his dedication to helping families access resources and building strong communities, we congratulate MacArthur Fellow José Quiñonez on this prestigious honor, and thank him for supporting our work.