Hablamos con la Mexican American Opportunity Foundation

Read about the story behind Consumer Action partnering with the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation

Published: Thursday, April 04, 2019

Consumer Action has partnered with the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation (MAOF) since 2013 to help educate and empower its primarily Latino clients. MAOF was established in 1963 to provide workforce and job training services to help this population achieve white-collar employment; it is now the largest Latino-oriented family services organization in the U.S.

MAOF’s mission is to provide for the socio-economic betterment of the greater Latino community of California, while preserving the pride, values and heritage of the Mexican-American culture. It accomplishes this through a number of programs offering early childhood education, job training, financial education and direct services for senior, immigrant and youth populations.

Consumer Action’s Audrey Perrott caught up with lsaias Hernandez and Raul De La O of MAOF to learn more about the esteemed organization.

AP: Tell us about your financial capability program?

IH: We’ve expanded our financial education program to include financial capability services, meaning we now offer or refer clients to safe and affordable financial products and services. At MAOF, we enroll clients in credit building and savings programs like Lending Circles, Fuente Crédito, ScholarShare529 and SaverLife as well as offer financial coaching and free tax preparation services.

Consumer Action has given us valuable opportunities to network at conferences and events, which has allowed us to develop relationships and partnerships to learn from innovative organizations in order to offer products to our clients that help them reach their financial goals.

AP: What has been the biggest challenge in serving consumers through the different stages of life?

IH: In 2018, we were selected by Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC; the nation's largest community development support organization) to operate one of its Financial Opportunity Centers (FOC) in Los Angeles. LISC’s FOC model is used to partner with non-profits around the country to help integrate income support services with financial capability and employment assistance. In offering these resources to parents from our early childcare education centers, we learned that social services, while needed, offer an immediate short-term positive impact, but financial capability and employment services allow us to have a long-term relationship with our childcare clients [parents]. We’re now able to track data over an extended period of time and show the positive impact for these clients in the areas of financial, health and social wellbeing.

AP: Have you found Consumer Action’s publications to be helpful to your work?

IH: The Consumer Action publications are a big help. We integrate the fact sheets into our curriculum and use both the Spanish and English publications. We’ve downloaded materials from the debt collection module and benefited from the Get credit for your hard work publication. We have also ordered publications from the modules covering checking and savings accounts, auto insurance and insurance in the sharing economy, as well as materials from the WirelessED and Money Management 1-2-3 trainings. We would not have been able to expand our programs without all of Consumer Action’s articles, publications and advocacy promoting financial reform at the state and national levels.

AP: Have MAOF staff attended Consumer Action’s National Consumer Empowerment Conference?

RD: Yes, the conference was a good introduction to consumer protections and advocacy. It was also helpful to connect to other practitioners. In addition, we were excited to bring the latest FinTech information back to our director, and we plan to develop and implement resources to educate consumers on how they can utilize this valuable technology.

IH: Yes, we are not policy experts; as practitioners, we’re busy with our daily work helping consumers and tend to rely on the advocates, through conferences like yours, to help us dive deeper in understanding the issues impacting consumers from a national or macro level.

 

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