Credit Builders Alliance: Empowering Young People Through Credit Education

October 20, 2023

Credit Builders Alliance (CBA) connects Nationwide Credit Reporting Agencies like Equifax with its one-of-a-kind umbrella network of nonprofit lenders, financial educators and asset builders that help tens of thousands of low-to-moderate income individuals across the nation build credit. Equifax is proud to partner with CBA and The Annie E. Casey Foundation to introduce a credit education toolkit created to support young adults as they begin their financial futures. 

[Download and access the Youth Credit Toolkit here.]

The toolkit was designed to serve as a hands-on resource for credit coaches and nonprofits to use as they build their credit education curriculum. 

By leveraging the toolkit together, CBA and its partners can make substantive progress toward equipping their communities with credit education and access.

At Equifax, our purpose is to help people live their financial best. Working with CBA to bring credit education to young people in underserved communities is an essential step in doing just that.

CBA CEO, Dara Duguay, discusses the importance of building financial capability at an early age, ways to leverage the toolkit, and how organizations can use the materials in their communities. 

Q: Why is credit education important to young adults?

A: Credit education equips young adults to start their lives with financial skills needed for independence. Managing credit responsibly is crucial for milestones like getting an apartment, car, utilities, etc.

Having knowledge in credit education sets positive lifelong habits. And using credit wisely from the start establishes responsible money management behaviors that benefit people indefinitely. 

Most young people get started in credit in one of three ways: 

  • Student loans 

  • Becoming authorized users on their parents’ credit card 

  • Unsecured credit cards 

But there are challenges for some. Equifax data reveals that at least 5% of Gen Z consumers between 18-26 have no credit score₁, and most young adults cannot access credit until they turn 18 years old. There are populations in foster care, juvenile justice-involved, experiencing homelessness, immigrants/refugees, young parents, and caretakers that face additional barriers to credit building. 

It can also be important for young people to have access to small lines of credit for use in emergencies. Understanding the credit system and building a credit history can be imperative as these individuals set out to build their lives.

Q: What ages may benefit the most from this toolkit and why?

A: This toolkit is most helpful for organizations with “newer to credit” programming. Typically, this content is relevant for young people between 18 and 24 years old. Young adults want to learn about credit but need unbiased knowledge and support to have a solid credit foundation.

Q: How did CBA approach the development of the toolkit?

A: CBA gathered research, received input from financial experts, interviewed youth, and created a draft toolkit to test. Then we collaborated with four youth-serving organizations for a year to assess the toolkit’s usefulness before launching this live version. 

Q. What are some of the most important components?

The toolkit is divided into six components:

  1. Learning About Credit

  2. Credit Building Products, Services, and Tools

  3. Introducing Credit to Young People

  4. Implementation Models

  5. Best Practices and Emerging Strategies

  6. Next Steps

There is essential information for everyone throughout the toolkit; but one of the most important for youth-serving organizations is the “Introducing Credit to Young People” section. Specifically, it helps them tailor the topic to the target audience – from competing marketing messages and first time credit experiences to key considerations for supporting young people with credit building.

The toolkit also addresses that it can be hard to get credit if you don't already have a credit history.  This situation poses barriers for young adults trying to establish responsible credit habits. Credit education is essential to unlocking access to credit products that support their goals. With the right support, credit can change from confusing to helpful for achieving goals.

Q: Who is the toolkit designed to be used by? How would you suggest that these types of organizations leverage the toolkit as a resource?

A: It’s a great resource for any young adult-serving organization including child welfare agencies, the juvenile justice system, educational systems, and workforce programs. These types of organizations have a unique opportunity to connect young people to this important knowledge.

CBA would suggest that organizations use the credit information for training everyone on their staff, review the “Talking to Young People About Credit” section, consider realistic implementation options, and connect with other organizations in their community as referral partners. 

Q: If an organization has questions about the toolkit and related materials, how can they engage with the CBA?

A: For questions, organizations can email CBA also has a great credit training website called the Training Institute and organizations can follow the organization via the monthly newsletter.

Q: How would a consumer go about finding a credit coach or partner in their local community?

A: CBA has a useful find-a-member map to locate one of its 640 members throughout the country. 

Q: How can other interested organizations get involved with CBA?

A: Learn about joining CBA as a member or email us at

Disclaimer: The information above represents the opinions and views of Credit Builders Alliance (CBA) and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Equifax, Inc., nor its subsidiaries and affiliate companies (“Equifax”). The information has been made available for informational purposes only. Equifax does not make any representation or warranties with respect to the accuracy, applicability, or completeness of the information. 

1 (Source: Equifax credit data, July 2023)