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Born as the daughter of undocumented immigrant parents and having grown up in East Los Angeles, Ms. Mercedes witnessed not just the changes and growing vibrancy of the community, but also the struggles of working families. She also witnessed the injustice and poverty in a neighborhood that consists predominately of Latinos.

After receiving a degree in Public Policy and Management from the University of Southern California and her J.D. from the University of California at Davis, Mercedes returned to her roots and opened her law office in September 2010. Her office is really a community project, offering low-cost legal services and know-your-rights information seminars.

Mercedes envisioned her legal practice, located on busy Whittier Blvd., to be one to educate and empower the East Los Angeles community. In the last two years, Mercedes has helped hundreds of East Los Angeles residents to avoid deportation and separation from their families. She protected their rights in accordance with the law and helped others to confront domestic violence issues.

Mercedes has also envisioned uplifting community residents by mentoring some to explore pursuing legal professions and becoming advocates for their own community. She works with local non-profit organizations like the East Los Angeles Women’s Center, Corazon del Pueblo, and neighboring schools and colleges by providing seminars and workshops.

Realizing that the demand for her services is much higher than she had envisioned, Mercedes will expand her practice with the $10,000 KIVA loan and continue to offer pro bono educational services. She will use this loan to purchase computers, laptops and projectors to be used by volunteers and law students, and also to hire a legal assistant.

Additional Information

More information about this loan

This loan has been made in collaboration with CAMEO(California Association for Micro Enterprise Opportunity) in order to build microlending capacity in California. In this partnership, CAMEO serves to support California microlenders, such as Fresno CDFI, throughout its partnership with Kiva. CAMEO’s mission is to grow a healthy, vibrant, thriving environment for all entrepreneurs and start-up businesses by advancing the work of its statewide member network.

About Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment

Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment (PACE) is a large nonprofit community development organization based in Central Los Angeles, California. Founded in 1976, PACE offers training to low-income individuals and families to help them meet the challenges of employment, education, housing and business development.

Kiva lenders’ funds are used to support even more people, especially those who attend training sessions but who PACE is unable to serve because of capital constraints. The funds are also used to ease the organization’s loan collateral requirements.

About United States

  • $54,800
    Average annual income
  • 30
    View loans »
    United States Loans Fundraising
  • $12,223,950
    Funds lent in using Kiva
  • US Dollars
    Loan transacted in USD