Tucson residents will be able to tap into a wealth of information and education about personal finance and entrepreneurship, thanks to a new program announced on Thursday by a California nonprofit and local leaders.
The Los Angeles-based Singleton Foundation for Financial Literacy & Entrepreneurship announced the Tucson Community Commitment, a free, six-month pilot financial literacy program being made available through local partners including the United Way.
Tucson is the first market where Singleton has launched the community financial literacy initiative.
The program will give Tucson residents access to Singleton’s growing library of digital personal-finance educational resources, including a series of short videos called Million Stories Media; a multiplayer e-sports-style video game, Venture Valley, that teaches about business and entrepreneurship; and The Entrepreneurship Shop, a one-stop resource on how to start a business.
To access the programs online, go to singletonfoundation.org/tucsoncommunitycommitment.
“Our mission is to make financial literacy engaging and available to everyone,” Singleton CEO Shelley Miles told a crowd during a kickoff event for Tucson Community Commitment.
Community partners on a steering committee for the project include the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona, JobPath Inc., Junior Achievement of Arizona, San Miguel High School, AGM Container Controls, Pima Community College, CPA Tucson, Startup Tucson, the El Rio Community Health Center and Vib’n LLC, a Tucson company that provides motivational programs and coaching in interpersonal “soft skills.”
Howard Stewart, CEO of Tucson-based AGM Container Controls, said he helped talk his sister — Singleton Foundation co-founder and vice president Cary Singleton — into picking Tucson as the launch city for its community financial literacy program.
“I shared with her that we have a lot of challenges when it comes to poverty, and the Singleton Foundation is addressing that by basically providing high-quality, digital content that virtually anyone can access,” Stewart said, adding that he helped bring in other nonprofit partners.
Tony Penn, president and CEO of the local United Way, said the Tucson Community Commitment fits his organization’s mission of building financially sustainable households, noting that its annual Volunteer Income Tax Assistance tax-preparation program with the Internal Revenue Service has helped put millions of dollars back in the pocket of local residents.
“This content can change lives, it can improve lives, it can build financial literacy and wellness and stability and can make a difference in the lives of kids, families and seniors throughout our community,” Penn said.
The Singleton programs will be integrated with its partners’ existing programs and are free to all users, with registration.
After completing easy-to-use programs, users will test their money smarts and set goals. The Singleton Foundation also will be hosting various workshops with different groups within the community to provide more in-depth training.
The Million Stories videos (available at millionstories.com) were launched last year. The short, educational videos are aimed at millennials and have included the “Adulting with Richard Sherman” series featuring NFL football player Sherman discussing topics including buying a car, getting out of debt, building credit and avoiding payday loans.
The Venture Valley game, expected to go live with a public, beta version next week at venturevalleygame.com, is a multiplayer mobile and PC game that lets users compete with each other to become the top executive.
The Entrepreneur Shop (entrepreneurshop.com) teaches users how to start their own businesses, starting with a free e-book.
Singleton will gather data from the six-month Tucson pilot and decide the next steps based on that experience, Miles said.
Dustin Shoemake, chief operating officer of the Boy Scouts of America Catalina Council, attended Thursday’s announcement to check out whether Singleton’s programs could be used by his organization in conjunction with a “personal management” merit badge Scouts earn.
“I wish I had known about credit scores before I went to college,” Shoemake said.