The Take Charge America Institute Educational Programs

Take Charge Cats

The Take Charge Cats are a team of trained University of Arizona students who serve as "financial education" ambassadors. Named after the University of Arizona Wildcats, the Take Charge Cats provide interactive financial education workshops for college students and students in grades 7-12 in the greater Tucson community. TCC ambassadors are extensively trained by the Take Charge America Institute faculty and staff to provide high quality presentations on money management topics such as spending plans, saving, credit cards, credit reports, understanding paychecks, identity theft, and the value of education. In addition, the Take Charge Cats team designs and implements a capstone personal finance competition for high school students called the Arizona Financial Face-off. The mission of the Take Charge Cats is to educate the youth of Tucson using a near-peer model and highly trained University of Arizona students. Learn more from the Take Charge Cats website:

Financial Literacy Lending Libraries for Early Childhood Education Centers

TCAI, in partnership with and Arizona Cooperative Extension, is creating portable financial literacy lending libraries for Early Childhood Education Centers to help parents of young children (ages 3 to 5) instill an understanding of money, the difference between needs and wants, and making choices, using children’s storybooks and supporting materials. The project will make the portable libraries available to the Pre-K education centers through a lending system through County Extension offices. The kits will include a variety of children’s storybooks and helpful hints for parents as well as teaching materials. All books and materials will be in English and Spanish.

The building blocks to basic principles of financial habits begin at a very young age. We may not think about these behaviors as contributing to financial habits later in life, but they do indeed contribute to understanding these concepts. This program will help parents understand developmentally appropriate learning for their child such as a three-year-old child differentiating between shapes, colors, sizes of objects; sorting objects based on similarities, which is a building block to the child understanding differences in value. It is also important for school readiness that a child begins to understand basic number sense through simple counting and identifying numbers of objects. Parents and care providers will use storybooks and teaching materials to help children count along with the adult and differentiate between one or two objects, which is a building block to the child understanding numbers and how they are used.

Storybooks will help parents talk with their children about important qualities associated with money and basic life skills such as understanding the difference between needing something and wanting something; developing the ability to postpone gratification and learning to make plans and save; and appreciating the value of each other, material objects, food, and experiences in life.

The Children’s Financial Literacy Lending Library will be available to Early Childhood Education Centers for loan for one week to one month. Professionals at the center will be provided with training on how to use the materials as well as promotional materials to inform parents of the opportunity to participate. We will encourage centers to hold a “financial literacy week,” during which time books can be read in the classroom and borrowed to take home. Each child will receive a “Financial Literacy Lending Library” map on which they can place stickers as they read each of the books available, allowing their parent/guardian to borrow one book at a time to take home for no more than one week. Upon return of that book, they are able to borrow another and so on for up to five borrows. Upon return the fifth borrowed book, the child receives a book to keep. This program can be combined with existing Extension Financial Education and Positive Parenting programming offered in most counties and online.

Contact Dan McDonald for More information on the Lending Library:

Where does your money go?

Where Does Your Money Go? is an introductory money management class though the University of Arizona's Cooperative Extension that focuses on helping you develop a spending-savings plan that works for you!  During the class you will:

  • Explore spending habits

  • Walk through a spending-saving plan

  • Develop new skills and tools to manage money

  • Create your own SMART financial goal(s) To learn more

To learn more visit the Cooperative Extension-Financial Literacy page:

Building Financial Security

Building Financial Security for Self, Family, and Community is a 4-part series that takes an in-depth look at managing money.  During weekly 2-hour classes, you will discuss four major questions:

  • Why do I spend money the way I do?  How do your values, goals, and culture impact your spending and financial decisions?  Take control by prioritizing expenses creating a spending plan & making SMART goals.

  • How do I prepare for emergency costs?  Learn how to build and use an emergency fund.  Understand different types of insurances and how they can support you.

  • What are the costs of borrowing money?  How does interest affect your debt, credit, and savings?  Learn to use credit responsibly and decrease the time and interest you pay on loans.

  • How do I read my credit report and score?  Understand how your credit report is made, how to read it accurately and dispute inaccurate information.  Discuss strategies to keep your information safe and improve your credit score.

Join us for a FREE interactive workshop and take control of your finances!