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Boundless Featured Nonprofit: Mission Asset Fund

Apr 8, 2019

MAF Logo on Transparent Background

At Boundless, immigrants come first, and we want to give visibility to organizations that share our mission and values. That’s why we’ve decided to occasionally feature one nonprofit organization whose work we admire and donate $250 to their cause as a token of our appreciation and support.

Every now and then, a different Boundless team member will select a nonprofit that helps to improve the lives of immigrants in the United States.

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Senior Marketing Manager Xiaohan Zhang chose Mission Asset Fund (MAF) as the inaugural Boundless Featured Nonprofit. Learn about MAF and why it holds a special place in Xiaohan’s heart:

About Mission Asset Fund

Founded in 2007, MAF helps immigrants in multiple ways. First, through its “Lending Circles” program, the nonprofit helps to facilitate “peer-to-peer lending,” in which a group of 6–12 people pay into a fund that’s distributed in whole every month to a different member of the group until everyone has had their turn. The loan is interest-free, and the payments are reported to the major credit bureaus so participants can build credit. At the same time, participants receive free financial education, which in turn helps to reduce the loan default rate and improve the U.S. economy.

MAF also provides 0% interest “immigration loans” to help people pay for their immigration and U.S. citizenship fees. There’s even a version that assists entrepreneurs with starting businesses and building commercial credit.

Since September 2017 — when the Trump administration announced it would phase out Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) — MAF has also been raising money to help Dreamers pay the $495 fee to renew their DACA status while they can. By October 2017 alone, it had raised nearly $4 million, benefiting about 6,000 Dreamers.

Why I chose Mission Asset Fund — by Xiaohan Zhang

After years of planning our pursuit of the American Dream, my mom and I finally joined my dad in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1997, when I was 8 years old. We’d been separated from my dad for over a year. I was born in China, but at the time we were living in the U.K., where my parents attended college. They decided that my dad would finish school in the United States, and we could eventually get U.S. citizenship.

Before we crossed the pond, I remember my parents spending countless nights discussing our family’s finances. Even though they filled out most of the immigration paperwork themselves, they paid several thousand dollars for a lawyer just to ensure they completed the forms correctly. The expense was worth the peace of mind for my parents, but they also made sacrifices to make ends meet. My parents deferred their American Dream — building credit to qualify for a mortgage, buying (and learning to drive) their first car, and saving for retirement — because the stakes of applying for our green cards were so high.

I recently learned about MAF through a colleague. The organization’s mission to help immigrants cover immigration costs resonated with me — these were the same issues my parents faced when we immigrated to the United States.

What I appreciate most about MAF is its focus on helping underserved communities. While its approach mirrors those of Grameen Research’s group lending model and Acumen’s impact investment philosophy, MAF also ushers these concepts to a niche clientele: immigrants applying for green cards and citizenship. What’s more, MAF’s 0% interest loans don’t just help people pay their immigration fees — they’re also a vehicle for credit building and financial education so that underserved communities can access financial services previously unavailable to them.

Keep up the great work, MAF!

Boundless will continue to spotlight nonprofits that aim to make life easier for immigrants, in addition to:

Boundless — for people who want the expertise
of an immigration lawyer, not the price tag.