Mr. Bryant Is the Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Operation HOPE, as well as Vice Chairman of the President's Advisory Council on Financial Literacy, and Chairman of the Council Committee on the Underserved
WASHINGTON, DC–(Marketwire – January 23, 2009) – John Hope Bryant today issued a public statement in support of the bi-partisan U.S. President's Advisory Council on Financial Literacy's 2008 Annual Report and Recommendations to the President and the Secretary of the Treasury:
"Operation HOPE applauds the Council for its substantive and forward-looking report and recommendations, as presented to the President, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Presidential Transition Team, as well as Members of Congress, on both sides of the political aisle, at the January 6, 2009 public meeting at the U.S. Department of the Treasury in Washington, D.C. I am particularly passionate about requiring young people to receive a mandatory course in financial literacy before 12th grade, and even in college, as well as my passion to help insure that every American have full and complete access to a mainstream, FDIC or National Credit Union Administration insured, electronic debit card-accessed bank or deposit account. It is a shame that 40 million Americans have no bank account in the wealthiest country in the world. In a democracy, you are not free without the right to vote. In a capitalist and free enterprise system, you are not free if you don't understand capitalism and free enterprise, and don't have full, mainstream access to the capital and our payment system. More Americans do not have a bank account than didn't have the right to vote in 1962.
"The core findings address the Council's core mandate and mission — to help American's understand and address financial matters. By increasing financial education for youth and adults in the workplace, and increasing access to financial services for the underserved, and supporting substantive national financial literacy research, the Council is laying the groundwork and foundation for a financially fit and more competitive America. These efforts work to safeguard the next generation of Americans from the global economic crisis gripping everyday households today. At the core of this economic crisis, and now even working to further erode essential consumer confidence, are massive levels of financial illiteracy.
"For 17 years Operation HOPE has tirelessly worked to promote financial education, self-reliance, economic empowerment and access to underserved communities throughout the U.S. and internationally. Today, the Council recommendations to expand and improve financial education for students from kindergarten through post-secondary education, and increase access to mainstream financial services for the millions of unbanked, as well as supporting employers as providers and conduits of financial education to their employees, will help ensure that the economic crisis that we are facing today will not happen again."
The 15 Council recommendations and report are listed below:
Pursuant to 4(b) of Executive Order No. 13455, the Council recommends that the President and Secretary of the Treasury implement or call for the following actions: Expand and improve financial education for students from kindergarten through post-secondary education.
Recommendation 1 — The United States Congress or state legislatures should mandate financial education in all schools for students in grades Kindergarten through 12. For those schools without access to curricula, encourage the adoption of "Money Math: Lessons for Life," a ready-to-use Middle School curriculum created by the Department of the Treasury and endorsed by the Council.
Recommendation 2 — The United States Department of the Treasury should institutionalize and expand the National Financial Literacy Challenge, with the goal of significantly increasing participation in this personal finance contest for high school students.
Recommendation 3 — The United States Department of the Treasury should implement the Post-Secondary Financial Education Honor Roll program, approved by the full Council in 2008, to encourage best practices in financial education at colleges and universities.
Recommendation 4 — The President should direct the United States Department of the Treasury and the United States Department of Education to take the necessary steps to require college students to take a more comprehensive course in financial literacy (or pass a competency test) than the present entrance and exit counseling requirements, as a condition of receiving Federally funded or Federally guaranteed student loans.
Recommendation 5 — The United States Department of the Treasury should promote the availability of financial education resources for parents, caregivers, and teachers to use with pre-school and early elementary school children.
Support the increasingly important role of employers as providers and conduits of financial education to their employees.
Recommendation 6 — The United States Congress should explore one or more tax incentives to encourage employers to provide financial education in the workplace.
Recommendation 7 — The United States Department of the Treasury should implement the Workplace Financial Education Honor Roll program, approved by the full Council in 2008.
Recommendation 8 — The United States Department of the Treasury should create an Internet-based resource center on the federal government's financial literacy website, www.mymoney.gov for human resource professionals and employers that consolidates the best financial education information and resources.
Increase access to financial services for the millions of unbanked and underserved Americans.
Recommendation 9 — The United States Congress should require financial institutions to provide every adult American with access to an electronic, debit card-accessible depository account protected by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or the National Credit Union Administration.
Recommendation 10 — The United States Congress should provide Federal funding for any non-profit organizations working on community-based financial literacy programs and for state and local governments demonstrating leadership in financial education for their residents.
Identify and promote a standardized set of skills and behaviors that a financial education program should teach an individual.
Recommendation 11 — The private sector, state and local governments, and nonprofits should adopt the Council's definitions for "financial literacy" and "financial education," so that programmatic decisions are based on a common understanding of the terms. The Council adopts the Financial Literacy and Education Commission's definitions of those two terms. Specifically, the Council defines "financial literacy" as "the ability to use knowledge and skills to manage financial resources effectively for a lifetime of financial well-being" and defines "financial education" as "the process by which people improve their understanding of financial products, services and concepts, so they are empowered to make informed choices, avoid pitfalls, know where to go for help and take other actions to improve their present and long-term financial well-being."
Recommendation 12 — The United States Department of the Treasury should identify and standardize the specific skills that a person should have upon completion of a comprehensive financial literacy program and explore the creation of a certification program for such programs and for instructors of programs that meet the criteria.
Promote more awareness among Americans of the state of financial literacy in the United States and of their own financial literacy, and dedicate more resources toward educating Americans on how to improve their financial literacy.
Recommendation 13 — Colleges, universities, and other research entities should execute critical research into the state of financial literacy and the most effective measures to increase financial literacy in the United States.
Recommendation 14 — Nonprofits should create and distribute a self-administered "National Financial Check-Up" that would allow Americans to assess their own financial knowledge, and provide links to trustworthy sources of information to fill in any gaps.
Recommendation 15 — The United States Congress should appropriate funds to the United States Department of the Treasury to coordinate active and ongoing media and marketing outreach to promote more widespread knowledge of general financial education concepts among the American people. These efforts should include direct outreach as well as multi-media campaigns.
To view the report, please visit http://www.treas.gov/offices/domestic-finance/financial-institution/fin-education/docs/PACFL_ANNUAL_REPORT_1-16-09.pdf.
About the President's Council on Financial Literacy:
The President's Advisory Council on Financial Literacy (the Council) is bi-partisan and chartered to serve two sitting presidents through the year 2010. The Council's purpose is to help keep America competitive and assist the American people in understanding and addressing financial matters. Each member of the Council represents an industry involved with the delivery of financial education to American citizens. It has been tasked to (1) work with the public and private sector to help increase financial education efforts for youth in school and for adults in the workplace; (2) increase access to financial services; (3) establish measures for national financial literacy; (4) conduct research on financial knowledge; and (5) help strengthen public and private sector financial education programs. To further define the Council's agenda and goals in each of the key areas, it established a Youth, Underserved Populations, Workplace, Outreach, and Research Committee. To learn more, go to http://www.treas.gov/ or http://www.treas.gov/offices/domestic-finance/financial-institution/fin-education/.
About Operation HOPE, Inc.
Operation HOPE is America's leading nonprofit social investment banking and financial literacy empowerment organization. With more than 400 private sector partners, 1500 nonprofit organizations and schools, and 100 government partners in 30 major U.S. cities as well as South Africa, Operation Hope has raised more than $400 million in its pursuit of educating, assisting and inspiring the next generation of global stakeholders. Through international initiatives and its three principal programs, Banking on Our Future (teaching school children about money), HOPE Coalition America (Mortgage HOPE Crisis Hotline, 1-888-388-HOPE, financial emergency preparedness and disaster relief), and Walk-In HOPE Centers (loans, bill pay, computer literacy, understanding banking principles), Operation HOPE has assumed the responsibility of piloting the Silver Rights Movement towards making free enterprise and capitalism relevant to all underserved communities. For more information visit www.operationhope.org or http://www.operationhope.org/fileupload/File/ar_uspacfl.pdf.