Plaza Adelante: An All-in-One Model for Service Delivery and Community Development

By: Lauren Stebbins
January 4, 2011

Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA), a community-based organization in San Francisco that provides asset development services for low- and moderate-income Latino families, unveiled in March of 2010 Plaza Adelante, a “one-stop” center housing several community-based nonprofits, an in-house café, exhibits of work from local artists and a market that serves as a business incubator. The nonprofits housed in Plaza Adelante provide a wide range of services including technical assistance for microenterprises, homeownership counseling and foreclosure intervention, financial education, technology education and training, affordable financial products and services and tenant counseling.

Not only does Plaza Adelante provide a central location for low-income Latino and immigrant individuals and families to access critical services, it also offers a solid model for integrated service delivery and cost savings by pooling administrative resources and sharing space. This enables each organization to devote more resources to their programs and services. This method of collaboration also supports greater efficiency of nonprofit operations and maximizes benefits received by community residents in need of financial security.

El Mercadito, Plaza Adelante’s market and Mission Street retail business incubator is part of a larger program to develop businesses owned by low-income, Latino entrepreneurs. Although Plaza Adelante has been open since March, the grand opening of El Mercadito took place in late October. Entrepreneurs that secure a space in El Mercadito are contracted to operate in the space for up to five years, with the goal of growing enough in a minimum of three years to be able to secure their own space. MEDA assists businesses in this process by providing legal assistance and counseling.

El Mercadito

The process for selecting the businesses for El Mercadito starts by participating in free business development classes on marketing, financing, management, and operations. Students in these classes are provided with one-on-one support in developing their business plans. Upon completing the classes and the business plans, participants engage in selling their plans to a panel of judges that selects occupants for El Mercadito.

Plaza Adelante is a great example of how merging nonprofit operations can go well beyond reducing administrative costs for organizations and also produce a bounty of benefits for communities served. innovation@cfed is particularly excited to highlight MEDA’s success in launching Plaza Adelante and El Mercadito as MEDA’s Executive Director is innovation@cfed Strategic Advisor Luis Granados. In addition, one of the nonprofits housed in Plaza Adelante is Mission Asset Fund, which is directed by Innovative Idea Champion José Quiñonez.

To watch a video on El Mercadito’s grand opening, at which San Francisco City and County Treasurer Jose Cisneros was in attendance, click here.

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