The American Financial Services Association, a trade group for consumer-credit providers, has resurrected a dormant consumer research initiative, hoping to make its mark in both academic and business circles.

The group's Consumer Credit Education Foundation started with a nonprofit charter in 1990, but as H. Randy Lively Jr., president and chief executive of the association, said, "It was not the right time for the industry."

Mr. Lively would like to establish a school or course on consumer finance, probably within a university that offers banking programs.

The foundation's first project since it was staffed last March is a radio public service announcement about auto leasing. The spots were distributed to 2,000 stations nationwide in connection with National Consumers Week, which begins Oct. 22.

The foundation's original purpose was consumer education, but now it will also serve as a forum for consumer research.

It will focus initially primarily on grade-school children by working with organizations that develop educational curricula such as Junior Achievement, which draws on business volunteers, and the National Council of Economic Achievement.

"We want this foundation to be the home of substantial consumer research," Mr. Lively said. "Our role will be to define the need and the problem through research and to work with educators who develop curricula."

The foundation is now forming a board of directors. Among the nine board members so far are: Mr. Lively; Nancy Donovan, president and chief executive of the Novus Financial Services unit of Dean Witter, Discover & Co.; William E. Odom, chairman and chief executive of Ford Motor Credit Corp., and William D. Dunkelberg, professor of economics and director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at Temple University.

Mr. Dunkelberg's high profile adds cachet to the foundation. His substantial resume includes serving on former President Reagan's transition team in 1980. He was an adviser to the Secretary of Commerce and was reported to be a candidate for vice chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve in 1981.

Mr. Lively said he expected to add at least four more academic board members.

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