The Micro Loans Program
How do micro loans work?
Micro loans of up to $1,000 are available at no interest to qualified applicants.
Do I qualify for a loan?
To qualify for a micro loan you must:
- Have no access to a bank loan
- Earn less than $12 per hour
- Live in the Portland area
- Work at least part time
- Be enrolled in school
What are micro loans for?
Micro loans can be used to pay for:
- green card renewal fees
- interview clothes
- work uniforms
- bus passes
- car repairs
and other costs of living. Micro loans pay for unexpected expenses that come up when you’re working paycheck to paycheck.
Who makes the loans?
Portland investment club WEA LLC pledged an initial round of $100,000 in capital to fund the program. The Underdog Law Office personally guarantees and administers each loan. The urban achiever micro loan program offers a helping hand to Portland area youth of promise without the necessary means for a necessary means for a higher education.
How are the loans repaid?
Urban achievers are not charged interest and have up to two years to repay their micro loans. An Awards Dinner and an Urban Achiever Scholarship are available for applicants who successfully repay their loans.
How did the program start?
As a kid, I knew that hard work was the only way out of the trailer park. When I was 13, I washed cars and picked up trash for money. At 14, I picked blueberries and worked on a pressure washing crew under the table. I started working at Subway as soon as I could get a real job at age 15. At 16, I took another job at my local bowling alley. At 17, I took a third job as a paid intern at Intel.
My senior year of high school I finally moved out of the trailer park and into my own apartment. From 18 to 22, I worked as many odd jobs as I could to make ends meet. Even in college I worked as a day laborer and a shelf stocker and a bathroom cleaner at the Rose Festival Parade. After I graduated college, I started working construction as a hod carrier with my brother-in-law and as a gas station attendant at the West Salem Chevron. From 13 to 22, I probably worked over 25,000 hours and never made much more than minimum wage.
In my experience in life, you need money the most when you don’t have it, and you have money when you need it the least. Looking back now as a lawyer, I still remember when everyday was a struggle just to get by. One day my clutch would go out, the next day I’d get a speeding ticket, and the next day I’d need money to buy my mom a birthday present. Though I had no bad credit, I never qualified for even a small bank loan or credit card to help cover unexpected expenses.
– Michael Fuller
What is WEA LLC?
During law school in 2008 I co-founded a Portland area investment club called WEA LLC. Each month club members would contribute a relatively small amount of money, then research stocks to invest in. Over the past ten years we’ve been blessed by the American stock market, and many of our investments performed really well. We eventually moved from solely investing in stocks to startup investing and small business lending and real estate opportunities.
In 2017 I proposed that the club give back by pledging an initial round of $100,000 to fund micro loans to young, local working class students who are having temporary trouble making ends meet. Our club is very diverse – we have members in law, engineering, medicine, finance, and real estate. But whether Republican or Democrat, each member grew up working class, and we all agreed that funding micro loans to the next generation was the right thing to do. As a gesture of good faith, I agreed my Underdog Law Office would personally guarantee and administer each loan to deserving applicants.
We decided to call our loan recipients Urban Achievers because we’re all fans of the movie The Big Lebowski.
– Michael Fuller