Helping low-income Americans build credit

Though familiar to millions of people around the globe, informal lending circles among families, acquaintances, co-workers, and neighbors are rarely recognized by mainstream financial institutions. But with support from a diverse coalition that includes major banks, immigrant activists, academic researchers, and philanthropies (including Ford), these networks are increasingly being seen as a promising way to help low-income Americans build credit records. In a recent New York Times article, Amy Brown, the foundation’s program officer for financial justice, explained that this matters because lacking a credit history can make it very hard to be a part of the economic mainstream: “Over time, it makes it really hard to build wealth and move up.”

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The Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than 80 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.