With rising interest rates, it’s not uncommon for American credit card holders to quickly accumulate debts they can’t afford. For those who find themselves buried in debt, an Ohio State alumna can help.

Jamie Chase, a 1999 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in communication, is a co-inventor of American Debt Relief Challenge, a program that has saved Americans a total of $20 million, Chase said. The ADR Challenge has accomplished these savings by simply transferring consumer debt from banks to credit unions.

Chase said a typical interest rate at a bank is 18 to 20 percent, while a credit union averages 6 to 12 percent. Credit unions can charge less interest because they are nonprofit.

“Banks exist to make a profit,” Chase said. “Credit unions are more like libraries; they only exist to serve.”

She said credit unions are guided by a board of directors, all of whom are members of the community.

“This means they are more willing to help people in the community whose house[s] might be facing foreclosure, for example,” Chase said. “They only exist to make life better, and a lot of people don’t know that. Why would I choose to use a bank when a credit union does the same stuff?”

In addition to her work in the U.S., Chase has gone overseas to explore the benefits of credit unions. In 2006, she went on a goodwill mission to Mali, West Africa. There she found credit unions improving the quality of life for young girls who would otherwise be forced to beg and sell their bodies to survive on their own.

Chase said the girls were taken off the street and sent to attend the Here Je Development Center in Mali, where they received training in traditional African arts. After graduation, the girls were given loans by a Mali credit union so they could create their own businesses.

“Credit unions are meant to reduce poverty,” Chase said. “They break that cycle.”

Chase said a lot of people don’t know the benefits of credit unions.

This means they can easily be misled by banks.

“You made the choice to spend the money,” she said. “But it’s really
unfair how banks entice consumers in with 0 percent starting interest.”

In an effort to spread awareness about personal finances, Chase, also a previous PBS producer, played a big part in starting PBS’s “BizKid$,” a show geared toward children that features children with their own businesses. The show demonstrates how the children manage the money they earn through their businesses.

The show is produced by the same people who were behind “Bill Nye the Science Guy.” Chase said the goal for “BizKid$” is to “create the same level of awareness about finances as ‘Bill Nye the Science Guy’ created for science.”

Chase said the show isn’t allowed to directly mention credit unions to children viewers, but they decided to completely fund the show to spread general financial awareness.

In addition to these accomplishments, Chase owns her own business, called Credit Union Strategic Planning. She said her official job title is “principle instigator of goodness.”

Her job title is a direct reflection of her personal mission statement, she said.

“Find your life’s purpose. The thing that led me to this wasn’t trying to make the most money. My life purpose is to help people. That’s why I have a job title like instigator of goodness.”

Chase, a third-generation OSU graduate, said she credits OSU with helping her learn how she could create her own path in life. She said she remembers being in lecture halls full of people and found it amazing that she could still receive personal help from her professors.

“Ohio State taught me life is what you make of it,” she said.

Chase said that she is dyslexic and is still grateful toward her academic adviser, Larry Greenfield, who she said helped her tackle college.

Chase even said that dyslexia has helped her career.

“We have a different way of looking at things and that is really helpful in inventing things,” she said.

Her uncle, who also had dyslexia, was the lead inventor of the ATM. Chase said he served as a mentor in her life.

For college students looking for financial advice, Chase said to simply avoid credit cards.

“More college students drop out of college due to credit card debt than failing grades,” she said. “When people offer you a credit card they are doing you no favor.”

For more information on the ADR Challenge, visit adrchallenge.com. To find the nearest credit union, visit findacreditunion.com.