Center for Economic Integrity, public policy, Tucson, Arizona, New Mexico, education, consumer issues, corporate research, research


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The Center for Economic Integrity builds economically strong communities for all and opposes unfair corporate practices.

The extreme economic divide in our country, and the public policy that encourages it, will not change unless and until we challenge head on the powerful industries that profit excessively on the backs of the common worker or consumer.

Message from our Founder:

It's expensive to be poor, and unfortunately it can be profitable to exploit poverty. In our market-driven economy some demand ties directly to people's limited options. Living paycheck to paycheck? Find cash for emergencies with a 450%-interest payday or auto title loan. No work experience or references? Get a job through a labor broker at minimum wage, minus charges for everything from gloves, boots, tools and a ride. Sending money to a loved one in prison? That'll cost you extra for the only designated finance company to process and deposit.

Those of us who have worked on economic justice issues, and especially those of us who have lived in poverty, know all too well that the high cost of poverty sometimes stems from the high profits extracted from the impoverished. The Center for Economic Integrity seeks to challenge that dynamic. We do so through public policy and regulatory campaigns (like capping interest rates at that age-old 36% anti-usury level) and through direct market intervention (like shareholder activism or starting social enterprises as alternatives to profiteering industries). Since 2002 we have partnered with faith communities, labor unions, responsible businesses, economic justice advocates and many more. And during our first decade we have succeeded. We have helped create systemic change that puts money back into poor people's pockets.

The first decade has been an extraordinary, as will the next. Please join CEI to challenge the high price of poverty.

Karin Uhlich - Founder

CEI identifies egregious corporate practices negatively impacting workers and consumers. We work as a facilitator for systemic economic change through partnerships with existing nonprofits, military and political entities, faith based and business organizations in the follow ways:

Community-based Research and Education
Engage those people directly and adversely affected by an economic problemthe impacts/gather testimonials and train leaders the broader community about the issue to galvanize support

Community Organizing
Share results of our research to leverage a strong, broad and inclusive coalitiona unifying message and objectives financial resources to fund partner participation in efforts united coalitions to achieve a specific outcome of mutual benefit

Public Policy and Corporate Reforms
End egregious practices through teaching community coalitions how to pursue new laws and to demand enforcement of existing laws political and communications strategy and coordination for the coalition in shareholder activism and public pressure through media and consumer education campaigns

Social Enterprise Development
Empower and train nonprofits to develop business enterprises that fit their mission and benefit the community corporations to change practices that exploit workers and consumers by creating this ethical competition for these businesses

Reform of Labor Brokers
CEI pushed through legislation holding for-profit day labor companies accountable in Arizona and New Mexico has helped three nonprofits in the Gulf Coast region launch nonprofit labor brokering enterprises to better meet the needs of workers and employers

Payday Lending Reform
CEI won a first and only victory banning payday lenders in Arizona now helps communities across the country combat similar 400% interest rates nonprofits in developing new products and services, like pre-paid debit cards, to take the place of payday loans
Expand the offerings and consumer access to community banks and credit unions

Center for Responsible Lending
Consumer Federation of America
New Mexico Fair Lending Coaltion
National Consumer Law Center
Unions (UFCW, Building and Construction Trades and Laborers Unions)
Air Force (Command Personnel of Luke and Davis Monthan Air Force Bases)
50 Business AllianceArizona Leadership Council
Arizona Alliance of Construction Trades
League of Credit Unions (inc. several member credit unions)
NM Mexico Coalition for the Homeless
Arizona Ecumenical Council
Arizona AARP
Southwest Rural Policy Network (14 organizations located in AZ, NM and SE CO)

Creates change from the ground up - must be defined by people directly impacted and outcomes must be achieved through diverse community coalitions that share a stake in success - believe our partnership approach and proven strategies lead to sustainable economic change for the better.

Download or most recent audited financial reports here:

2015-2016 Annual Review
Through extremely competitive processes, a number of national foundations have invested their trust and resources in the Center for Economic Integrity, some for many years:

* Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment
* Charles Stewart Mott Foundation
* Wallace Foundation
* M. Casey Foundation
* Kellogg Foundation
* Arizona Community Foundation

More than 300 individuals have contributed to the organization since our inception and we continue to grow our donor base. We welcome
your support. Contact us today!


Mary Juge Ryan - PC Civil Practice, Civil Rights Law, Government Law President

Lowell Jones - R & D Systems Engineer, Entrepreneur Treasurer

Kenney Hegland - University of AZ Law Professor Emeritis Secretary

Michelle Pitot - Consultant, Corporate Ethics & Accountability, YWCA Deputy Director Fundraising & Development Committee Chair
Becky Duncan - Educator, Ret. Artist
Nathalie Martin - Frederick M. Hart Chair in Consumer and Clinical Law and Assocaited Dean of Faculty Development
University of New Mexico School of Law
Steve Fischmann - New Mexico State Senator Ret.

Kelly Griffith, Executive Director

Miquela Anaya, New Mexico Director

The focus of Mikki's work is on advocacy addressing a rate cap on high-cost, small loans and work on continuing rural financial management projects in New Mexico. These projects are part of a larger campaign initiated by the Southwest Rural Policy Network.

Harriet Larkin - Office Manager
Linda Van Pelt - Accounting


The Center for Economic Integrity has been honored for our unique and effective approach to economic justice:

  • U.N. INT'L LABOR ORGANIZATION: 2002 Delegate to Geneva, Switzerland
  • SONORAN INSTITUTE 2007: Builders of Vibrant Economies Award
  • AZ COMMUNITY ACTION Margie Frost: Champions Against Poverty Award 2010

National Media Coverage
"Hundreds of stores in Arizona will no longer be able to charge triple-digit interest rates. Consumer groups hail the new protections for Arizona borrowers…[The] Center for Economic Integrity has organized volunteers who will spy on lenders and report abuses to state officials."
NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO, Marketplace Morning Report, July 1, 2010

"The writers and photographers of a tiny book titled People Around Us are Arizona and new Mexico low wage earners: Wal-Mart cashiers, day laborers, servers…Published by [the] Center for Economic Integrity, People Around Us was designed as a way to 'amplify the voices of low wage earners in an undiluted, unmediated form.'"

"In Arizona, new laws prohibit common practices used in other states, such as charging fees that reduce hourly pay rates to levels below the minimum wage. 'It's a matter of ensuring the homeless won't be getting exploited for the sake of the company's profits.' according to [the] Center for Economic Integrity."

"'If day labor were reframed to be transitional work, then it could be a valuable thing,' says [the] Center for Economic Integrity. 'Ultimately, it's got to lead to something better.'"
MOTHER JONES MAGAZINE, March/April 2002 Issue

"For years, advocates…have been pushing for federal action that would quash such predatory practices [as rapid tax refund anticipation loans]. Finally, momentum is on their side...[The Center for Economic Integrity]and other advocates urge families to get their taxes done-free-at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) or AARP Tax-Aide sites...all money goes to the taxpayer."

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