Johannesburg, South Africa – June 07, 2007 – Today, U.S. based financial literacy and empowerment nonprofit, Operation HOPE (HOPE), made good on its commitment to expand silver rights — its mission to jump-start underserved communities through inspiration and financial education, opening its first international office in South Africa.

The event, attended by top officials and private interest companies, recognized contributing sponsors and illustrated more about program goals.

“We are pleased to welcome Operation HOPE to South Africa. It is our ‘hope’ that through this program we will be able to positively impact the lives of tens of thousands of youth and young women in the country," said Todd Haskell, Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Embassy, Pretoria.

The three-tier event consisted of an executive teaching session in the classroom setting, a press conference, and an education and partner session. The opening ceremony, which included the executive Banking on Our Future, South Africa teaching session and press conference, was hosted by Gauteng MEC (Member of the Executive Council of the Department of Education) Angelina Motshekga. CIDA University CEO, Taddy Blecher, opened the ceremonies and greeted guests.

“Over the next 12 months, Operation HOPE plans to establish offices in Johannesburg, Cape town and Wellington. This work could not be accomplished without the assistance and support of our first global partner and signature founding partner Citi and Citi Foundation, or Standard Bank our Legacy Sponsor, and International Finance Corporation (IFC), our Founding Sponsor, along with the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, a lead community partner. In South Africa, we will prove just how much can be accomplished with faith, hope and opportunity,” said Operation HOPE, Founder, Chairman and CEO, John Hope Bryant.

HOPE’s first global partner and South Africa Founding Signature Partner, Citi, sent Donna Oosthuyse, COO, of Citi Africa Division to comment on the company’s involvement. Maledbo Modise of Standard Bank, HOPE’s Legacy Sponsor, highlighted the bank’s enthusiasm for the newly formed partnership.

Eva Bakonyi, Head, Partnerships and Donor Relations of IFC, participated in the program to express the corporation’s eagerness for the program’s success. And Mampe Ntsedi, Life & Education Skills Development Programme Director, welcomed the organization on behalf of the of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.

During the Education and Partner session, top area educators provided acknowledgments and support for HOPE’s efforts to encourage progressive business training.

Featured guest speaker Ambassador Andrew Young, a civil rights icon and Operation HOPE global spokesman, spoke on the Global Silver Rights Movement and the importance of education and access to levers of opportunity in achieving long-term success post apartheid for South Africans.

Guests were invited to visit the Banking on Our Future South Africa office and learn more about the program and plans to help 50,000 South African youth and young adults take control of their financial future.

The new program office in part, owes its existence to a commitment made through Clinton Global Initiatives, a partnership which was instrumental in leveraging partnership support.

Banking on Our Future, HOPE’s award-winning initiative to empower youth with the basics of understanding money and investment anticipates recruiting and training a base of 250 HOPE Corps volunteers to help educate the interested young adults. The South Africa curriculum has been customized to include dignity building and entrepreneurship, in additional to the standard saving and banking components.

Before expanding to South Africa the program’s proven success includes Oprah’s Angel Network Use Your Life Award and the U.S. Treasury Department’s John Sherman Award for Financial Literacy Excellence. In the last 10 years, some 6,000 HOPE Corps volunteers have educated more than 225,000 youth to date.

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