Operation Hope came to Harlem on Wednesday, with Bill Clinton giving a boost to the organization’s campaign to bring “financial literacy” to African-Americans.
“I hope we have a global movement of civil rights made local by folks who are here who have decided that they are tired of being sick and tired," declared John Hope Bryant, the Los Angeles business leader who is the founder and chairman of Operation Hope.
Started in Los Angeles in 1992, after a stream of inner-city riots, Operation Hope emerged as a non-profit organization designed to educate inner-city African-Americans about the "ins and outs" of the financial world.
"Let's make our money work for us" was the slogan heard throughout the New York City rally.
Bryant was in Harlem to open what he hopes will be the first of many "financial centers" in the Big Apple tutoring local residents on how they can succeed today even with modest resources. Operation Hope centers bring financial services to folks who normally could not afford them.
Bryant, who operates more than nine financial centers and 16 support offices nationwide, has enlisted the participation of several major Wall Street institutions in his campaign to "financially educate" black America. Among those Bryant cited are Citibank, JP Morgan/Chase, Deutsche Bank, and E-Trade.
Several political notables saluted Bryant on his efforts to help invigorate economic growth in Harlem.
Former President Clinton, whose office is just blocks away from the new Hope Center, sent a video greeting to the assembled guests:
"Too many hard-working people and families in Harlem and all across America live on the financial margins. I'm confident that this Hope Center will make "silver rights" a reality for many residents in Harlem and across New York City."
"Silver rights" is the slogan coined by Bryant in his efforts to educate urban residents about wealth building and fiscal responsibility.
Former Atlanta Mayor and American Ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young, a strong sponsor of Operation Hope, told the crowd: “Now you have a place to come and people who will help you … There's nothing you can't learn here."
Among the objectives of the new center cited by Bryant are:Funding $1 billion in low-wealth home ownership, small business ownership and entrepreneurship.Educating 5 million low-wealth children on financial literacy, both online and in the classroom.Fielding 25,000 "Hope Corps" volunteers from the business sector to teach basic money management principles.
Bryant summed up his New York mission by reminding the assembled guests: "It is our responsibility to take care of our responsibilities. And one of our responsibilities is owning here in Harlem and to give you the tools to do it."
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