As I keep saying, you don't do business companies, corporations or communities. You do business with people, and relations make all the difference. Well, in Chicago, IL., behind Oprah Winfrey who made Banking on Our Future, Chicago real when she awarded me the Use Your Life Award along with a $100,000 grant towards our work, the man who made Chicago real was one Ralph Mandell, pictured here with me last month as he received the Chairman's HOPE Award for your commitment and leadership.
Ralph Mandell is one of the most low-key individuals I know, but don't let the low-burn light fool you. Ralph has quietly and intelligently built the Private Bank & Trust in Chicago from a modest local success story to a regional banking and trust company powerhouse, with offices now in Michigan, Atlanta and other key cities. That said, Ralph also has a heart for community, and a commitment to "doing well and doing good" too. And that is where his life intersected with my own.
Because of a great leader within the bank, Wes Kott, a friend of mine, Ralph and I met and became instant friends. Today Ralph is an advisor to me, a member of our Midwest board for Operation HOPE, and through the bank, a lead partner in our on-the-ground work in Chicago. To date Banking on Our Future, Chicago has educated in excess of 28,000 low-wealth youth in financial literacy, and dignity, and has trained and utilized more than 500 volunteer HOPE Corps members, in more than 100 local Chicago Public School system schools and area community based and faith-based organizations. But it all started with a vision. It all started...with people like Ralph Mandell.
Thank you friend, for being the change you wanted to see in the world. We have only just begun making a difference in Chicago.
This is the "silver rights" movement in action.
Onward with HOPE
John Hope Bryant