HOPE Coalition America Helps Disperse More Than $12 Million

LOS ANGELES, CA — (MARKET WIRE) — March 26, 2007 — Since the devastating hurricanes of 2005 Operation HOPE (HOPE) has provided "economic triage" to those affected by the 2005 hurricanes — dispersing grant funds and providing financial guidance to meet rebuilding and recovery needs. Through Project Restore HOPE (PRH) — HOPE’s economic recovery initiative, 73,781 individuals have received financial guidance, a HOPE Fund grant or Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) benefits.

Project Restore HOPE, managed by HOPE’s national financial emergency preparedness and assistance division, HOPE Coalition America (HCA), has dispersed $500,000 in grant monies received from longtime partner E*TRADE. The HOPE Fund was established to cover insurance gaps for rebuilding the home or business of individuals and families affected by Hurricanes Katrina, Wilma and/or Rita. Benefits, including EITC, have totaled some $12.9 million for recovery and rebuilding assistance through PRH and its partners. Total assistance for the program includes $6.6 million in EITC collected in hurricane affected areas and total returns claimed with tax refunds of $11,934,879.

"After Hurricane Katrina struck, Operation HOPE pledged from the beginning of the recovery process that HOPE would be part of creating a rainbow after the storm, and we are continuing our efforts to help as families and individuals continue this long process of rebuilding their lives and their homes," said HOPE Founder, Chairman and CEO John Hope Bryant.

Through PRH, 183 hurricane affected individuals and families have received funds to rebuild their home or business. The grant has been a benefit to Rochelle Woodbridge of Port Arthur, TX, a mother of four who used the funds to repair the roof of her home. Carla and Edwin Smith of Pascagoula, MS a couple whose home suffered water damage, used the money to purchase a new air conditioning unit. Mark Raiford of Sandy Hook, MS, who never left his home during the storm, survived the hurricane along with most of his home, used the money to rebuild the room that was ripped off the back of the house. With the help of the PRH funds Janika Carter, a New Orleans resident and mother of four, used the funds received to pay the security deposit and the first month’s rent to set up a new home for her family. And in the case of Ronald Ragan of Violet, LA the money went to replace the damaged floors in his kitchen, living room, and bedroom.

The initiative, supported by a $200,000 in-kind contribution from First American Corporation, helped establish a national toll-free call center, which has provided counseling to 32,158 individuals affected by hurricanes. Software donated by Microsoft valued at more than $100,000 and database development by Quilogy made the call center service and online case management assistance possible. Support from lead volunteer partners in this initiative also include a $750,000 commitment from the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund, a PSA awareness campaign featuring the voice of former President Bill Clinton, the William J. Clinton Foundation, and H & R Block tax filing assistance for those affected to claim EITC benefits. Additional support came from financial leaders Bank of America, Bank of the West, TransUnion, Citigroup and legal and consulting service, Manatt, Phelps and Phillips.

A $1.1 million contract with the Mississippi Development Authority has helped sustain efforts focused in the Mississippi area. HOPE also serves as a lead partner for emergency economic recovery for Governor Haley Barbour and the State of Mississippi, as well as Louisiana Governor Katherine Blanco’s appointed Louisiana Recovery Authority.

Key federal agencies whose assistance further contributed to the success of gulf recovery efforts include the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Office of Thrift Supervision, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the National Credit Union Administration and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

HOPE Coalition America is a nationally recognized partner with the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). It was formed in 2001, in response to the September 11th terrorist attacks on the United States. HCA works with the FEMA, Citizen Corps and the American Red Cross as a grass-roots initiative to provide "economic triage" — emergency financial budgeting counseling, in times of catastrophe and or disaster. HCA will continue to provide survivors in the affected areas with the following services:

* Recovery Budgeting and the Use of Grant Funds

* Identifying Repairs and Desired Improvements

* Selecting a Qualified Building Contractor

* Grant, Existing Loan and New Loan Processes

* Monitoring the Process and Paying the Contractor

* Avoiding Legal Problems and Preventing Fraud

Gulf area victims, who are still in need of assistance, are urged to call HCA’s toll-free number at 888-388-HOPE (4673) for financial counseling, budgeting assistance and home repair and rebuilding guidelines.

About Operation HOPE, Inc.

Operation HOPE, Inc. is a non-profit organization, which was founded in 1992 to empower minorities in underserved US communities by connecting them to mainstream, private-sector economic resources made available through ongoing collaborations and long-term partnerships with leading government, private sector, and community interests. HOPE and its programs can be found online at

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