The Take Charge America Institute

Welcome to The Take Charge America's official webpage.

Find out more about the Institute and our programs below.


The Take Charge America Institute

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 during its first five years on educating young people how to manage their finances and make informed choices as they move into adult life.

Building Financial Security

Do credit reports or the idea borrowing money feel overwhelming?  Would you like a clearer picture of how you spend and save your money? Building Financial Security for Self, Family, and Community takes an in-depth look at managing money. Take control by prioritizing expenses creating a spending plan & making SMART goals. Learn how to build and use an emergency fund.  Understand different types of insurances and how they can support you. Learn to use credit responsibly and decrease the time and interest you pay on loans. 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.

Take Charge Cats

The Take Charge Cats, formerly the Credit-Wise Cats, began in 2000 with just 5 University of Arizona students, educating their peers on campus. Today, the Cats have grown to a team of 15 ambassadors. The Cats have extended their educational outreach efforts by improving the financial literacy of youth throughout Tucson high schools, middle schools and community organizations.

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. If your Education Center is Interested in utilizing the Financial Literacy Lending Library for your students please fill out an interest form here.

Financial Freedom Club

The Financial Freedom Club (FFC) is a UArizona club that was founded Fall 2020 with the goal of educating students on relevant financial topics. The club is open to all students, regardless of major or financial knowledge. 

Take The Arizona Saves Pledge

Make a pledge to yourself and create a simple savings plan that works. Complete the Pledge and America Saves will send you short email and text reminders, resources and tips to keep you on track towards your savings goal. Become part of an entire community of savers. Get started now by Taking the Pledge here!



The Take Charge America Institute Personnel 

Dan McDonald, Ph.D

Director, Take Charge America Institute

Extension Specialist for Financial Literacy

Noel Wilkinson

Program Coordinator

Coordinator of Take Charge America Institute-Cooperative Extension partnership program

Deidre Ramirez

Deidre Ramirez

Program Coordinator, Take Charge Cats