Money can be confusing, and the vast majority of us don’t have nearly enough of it — or at least not as much as we’d like. That’s why those folks who find a way to channel their economic knowledge or power into making the world a better place for others are so impressive.
Indeed, these financial heroes come in many types, from the leaders who help us all make sense of our budgets (without being too judgmental), to those elevating disenfranchised groups into better jobs and careers.
To that end, here are five money heroes — call them the Payoff protectors — making the financial world easier for vulnerable people. At the very least, they’re worth a follow on Twitter, whether you’re looking for a new place to put charitable dollars or just want to learn more about the fight for economic justice in 2017.
1. The immigrant helping undocumented workers get credit scores — and more
Even if you are an American citizen, it can be tricky to take the key steps you need to grow wealth — like by opening a bank account. Millions of Americans, mostly low-income, actually spend hundreds of extra dollars each year because of the high costs of being unbanked.
Suffice it to say, these financial hurdles get even higher if you don’t have a photo ID or Social Security number. To address this problem, José Quiñonez launched the Mission Asset Fund in 2007 to help undocumented immigrants gain access to the financial system.
“A lot of the things people think about immigrants and poor people generally are wrong,” Quiñonez told Mic in a 2016 interview after he won a MacArthur genius grant. “We’re not broken, we’re not delinquent, we’re not rapists. In fact, there’s a lot of hardworking, value-driven, faith-driven people that are out there in the margins.”
The Mission Asset Fund helps immigrants formalize what are known as lending circles, informal groups of people who pay a certain amount of money into a fund each month and then take turns claiming that lump sum. Thanks to Quiñonez’s MAF, that payment activity can now be reported to the credit bureaus, which in turn helps members gain access to better financial products.
Read more at Mic.