5MK stars at launch 

Celebrities and community leaders kick off financial literacy education initiative to keep five million kids from dropping out of school

LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Financial literacy and empowerment nonprofit, Operation HOPE (HOPE) launched a national campaign to reduce the high school drop-out epidemic and create a holistic way of thinking about education. FIVE MILLION KIDS (5MK) National Co-chairs, music icon Quincy Jones and Ambassador Andrew Young, Digital Chair Quincy (QD3) Jones III, 5MK Celebrity Ambassadors actor/singer Tyrese Gibson, and actor director Robert Davi, and social commentator Jeff Johnson, along with Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Ramon Cortines, California State Superintendent Jack O'Connell, and other community leaders and business decision makers joined HOPE Founder, Chairman and CEO John Hope Bryant, for a kick-off event at Bret Harte Preparatory Middle School on September 29, bringing attention to the value of learning.

“Statistics show that one child in America is dropping out of school every 26 seconds. HOPE believes the drop out epidemic is ultimately a huge drag on the American economy. It is critically important that we change the cultural tide and Make Smart Cool and Sexy,” said Bryant. “At the core of the 5MK is a national campaign to re-brand education in the minds and hearts of young people. The 5MK initiative will teach five million kids, their parents and teachers how to get rich legally through financial literacy, the language of money, free enterprise capitalism, and ownership.”

The morning started as some 1,200 students and 200+ leaders and luminaries filed into the school auditorium wearing 5MK t-shirts and wristbands, anxious to learn how they could benefit from the program. The day’s activities included four unique activities with celebrities, government leaders, and education officials to engage in and discuss the program. During the rally, students and invited guests were treated to an address by Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas, Vice Admiral David Brewer, and Dr. Rev. Cecil “Chip” Murray, emceed by K-DAY Radio Personality Devi Dev, and hosted by event sponsors Pacific Western Bank and Comerica Bank, the kick off received rousing cheers from the audience.

During the lunch hour, a Fireside Chat was hosted by co-chair Andrew Young. Panelists from the nation’s second largest school district, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Supt. Ramon Cortines, Supt. of Instruction, Jack O’Connell, and America’s Promise executive, Elaine Leibsohn dialogued about education and the impact that high school drop outs have on the economy.

Guests were invited to observe four focal classroom sessions. Featured were: iHOPE, Dignity, BOOF.org, AIMP learning, or a standard youth financial literacy Banking on Our Future session. To close out the day’s activities, entertainment legend Quincy Jones, Robert Davi, QD3, and Tyrese were on stage as John Bryant debuted the Banking on Our Future: Celebrity edition, Quincy Jones’ curriculum, as the first of many slated to be produced.

Additionally, QD3 talked to the students about digital empowerment and profit through iHOPE. Designed by Tech2000, the program prepares kids to become certified Apple programmers with the ability to sell their applications through Apple’s web store. iHOPE is a critical part of 5MK goal to inspire entrepreneurship. Closing out the event was hip-hop sensation Boog & Fizz.

Through 5MK, the organization’s five year plan intends to:

  • launch a 5% Movement, working to get the percentage of role models in our urban communities up to 5% or higher by placing a minimum of 25,000 volunteers in the classroom.
  • partner with community based organizations and financial institutions to open Starter Savings Accounts for the youth.
  • secure $50 million in Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) for parents, teachers and adults.
  • open 50,000 new bank accounts for the unbanked and under-banked using the proceeds of their EITC benefits.
  • produce 5,000 iHOPE Program graduates
  • recruit 5,000 grassroots leaders

Wells Fargo Bank was the signature sponsor for the afternoon Fireside Chat. Other program supporters include Bank Leumi, Tech 2000, America’s Promise Alliance, National Education Association, National Alliance of Black School Educators, LAUSD, Toyota, Premiere Radio Networks, the Associated Independent Music Producers and Brianne Pins of The Pins Group Communications.

The launch is just the beginning; afterwards HOPE will continue to work with LAUSD to fulfill their pledge to Bret Harte and partners to attack this issue and, ultimately, to have a positive effect on the high school dropout rate nationwide. In the next five years the program will launch nationwide and be implemented in cities throughout the U.S. To keep up to date on the progress, visit us again at www.5MK.org.

Images from the event can be accessed through this link.

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 68 major U.S. cities as well as South Africa, HOPE has raised more than $500 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 delivered services to more than one million low-wealth individuals and assumed the responsibility of piloting the Silver Rights Movement towards making free enterprise and capitalism relevant to all underserved communities. To learn more about HOPE, visit www.operationhope.org or read our blog at www.operationhope.org/blog.


FIVE MILLION KIDS (5MK) is Operation HOPE’s national “silver rights” initiative to break the cycle of the high school dropout epidemic by rebranding education in a “Making Smart Cool and Sexy” campaign. The project centers on giving students feasible options for financial independence through entrepreneurship training; providing accessible role models as a catalyst to making school relevant to students; and offering HOPE’s financial literacy portfolios as a commitment to financial empowerment for parents and educators. In 5 years 5MK expects to reach, teach and touch 5 million students, their parents and teachers about how to get rich legally through financial literacy; the language of money, free enterprise capitalism, and the dignity of ownership. Visit www.5MK.org for more information. 

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