Jose A. Quinonez Rise Up

Company Helps Poor Build Credit, Ladder Out of Poverty

Mission Asset Fund documents informal lending to help communities rise out of poverty.

Statistically, Jose Quinonez should have been doomed. As a 9-year-old he came to the US from Mexico, newly orphaned. Fast forward 3 decades and he’s got two prestigious degrees, a successful business and a MacArthur grant under his belt.

A ton of work and some help from his community led Jose to UC Davis and then Princeton before he founded the Mission Asset Fund.

The Fund’s designed to help low-income communities put informal lending circles on paper so that their transactions help the community build credit. This snowballs into bigger opportunities, like starting a business or buying a house.


Mission Asset Fund team. Photo: MAF


The non-profit helps funnel the loans to people who really need it, like immigrants applying for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

“This isn’t just a recognition of me. It’s a recognition of the ingenuity of our community, of the people who have to find a way to survive under the hardest circumstances.”

It’s that work that impressed the folks at the MacArthur foundation. They just awarded Jose their “Genius Grant” for his ingenious to solution a problem that’s both common and crippling to low-income communities.



Learn more about their solution to lending circles and donate.

Teaches Design as Pathway Out of Poverty Rise Up

Bay Area Non-Profit Teaches Design as Pathway Out of Poverty

Follow your art.

The Inneract Project became a sparkle in Maurice Woods’ eye when he was given an assignment in his graduate class at the University of Seattle to use design to ‘change the world’. A vision came immediately to Woods – free design programs for underserved kids.

That vision became The Inneract Project, a San Francisco non-profit getting kids from marginalized communities excited about creating. Design is not only a channel for creativity but can also become a lucrative career.

The program has three main offerings – the Youth Design Academy, an 8-week course for middle schoolers; Learning Labs, which offers workshops, lectures, and studio tours for middle and high school students; and Designed, a docu-series about designers.


Photo: The Inneract Project


Facebook and Autodesk have partnered with Inneract to make their programs even more robust, which Woods says is just what the program needs. He wants the model to eventually go nationwide.

“We just haven’t had the resources to be able to dig as deep as we want to dig. It takes time and outreach,” Woods told TechCrunch. “Kids, parents, and administrators don’t really understand what design is entirely and how it fits in terms of not just an educational standpoint, but career standpoint,” Woods told TechCrunch.

Woods believes using cultural context is important for the program. For instance, inner-city kids often have an affinity for sports, so Woods once asked the students to design basketball tees and merchandise as a way to introduce design in a way that felt familiar.

“We want to always have this focus on underserved youth and communities and always have this focus on advocacy where we’re not only just teaching them but we’re actually going to where these communities are and learning about them, and asking them questions, and developing a program that’s important to them, and evolving this ecosystem of people all over the nation who are interested in giving back and who have these skills, and want to see kids succeed and get into design and tech fields,” Woods told TechCrunch.

It’s a win-win for the tech world, Facebook Head of Design, Luke Woods, told TechCrunch. “We all get better results when designers come together with unique perspectives.”


Photo: The Center for Innovative Justice and Technology.

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