Take Charge America Institute focuses on creating research-based education programs to improve consumers’ financial literacy and help consumers make informed financial choices in today’s complex markets.
The Institute’s mission is to create research-based educational outreach programs to improve financial literacy and help consumers to make informed financial choices in today’s complex markets. A major endowment gift to the University of Arizona in 2003 from the credit counseling agency Take Charge America established the Institute. Located in the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences, the TCAI has focused its efforts on educating young people how to manage their finances and make informed choices as they move into adult life.
Educational Outreach Programs:
The TCAI has developed an array of financial education outreach programs.
The Take Charge Cats (named after the University of Arizona Wildcats) is a program comprised of approximately 15 University of Arizona students who provide personal financial education to college students and students in grades K-12 in the greater Tucson community. The TCC are extensively trained by the Take Charge America Institute faculty and staff to provide community outreach through presentation of money management workshops that focus on the core topics of spending plans, saving, credit cards, credit reports, paychecks, and the value of education. In addition, the TCC design and implement creative programs that include personal finance competitions in area high schools and middle schools, Arizona Financial Face-Off.
In terms of sheer numbers of students reached, the Institute’s Take Charge Today program has the broadest impact. The national award winning TCT curriculum materials are designed in a ready-to-teach, activity-based format. The materials are developed by a team of current classroom teachers, the National Master Educators. Over 100 grade 7-12 lesson plans are available, which are provided free of charge by the Institute, and used by more than 40,000 teachers nationwide.
Consumer Jungle is an interactive, web-based program that helps high school students become literate, savvy consumers. Consumer Jungle provides engaging and relevant consumer education curricula covering a variety of topics such as credit cards, transportation, living on your own, personal finances, telecommunications, health, and e-commerce fraud. Developed with input from teachers, students, and parents, Consumer Jungle delivers interactive games, activities, and relevant information directly to the home or classroom.
Research provides the foundation of the Institute’s activities.
To support and enhance its outreach programs the Institute works with scholars from the UA and other research universities, drawing from a wide variety of academic disciplines including behavioral finance and economics, psychology, sociology, consumer sciences and family studies. This interdisciplinary approach is expanding the research agenda to generate insights regarding consumer financial decisions. These insights guide the development of the Institute’s financial education workshops, curriculum and delivery methods.
In addition, the Institute’s research agenda includes studies of the impact of existing financial education programs across the country to measure program effectiveness, including measures of subsequent change in behavior.
Arizona Pathways to Life Success for University Students (APLUS) is a longitudinal study on the individual differences in young adults' financial behaviors, economic aspirations, and work and family choices. It also looks at how educational experiences (high school and college) affect the development of financial attitudes, intentions, and behaviors during young adulthood.