WASHINGTON–John Hope Bryant, Operation HOPE founder, chairman and chief executive officer, issues the following statement:

“I commend President Barack Obama, Treasury Secretary Geithner, Council Chairman and friend Charles Schwab, the U.S. Treasury Department Office of Financial Education, and the Obama Administration for calling a meeting of the non-partisan U.S. President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy (the Council) on November 3, 2009 at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. I would like to further encourage our elected officials to promote and advance financial literacy legislation that will help keep America competitive, and assist the American people, particularly our most under-served and at risk, in understanding and addressing financial matters.

The Council Committee on the Underserved, which I chair, along with committee members: Sharon Lechter, The Rev. Dr. Robert V. Lee III and Ignacio Salazar, along with special advisor Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, reported the following benchmark achievements and initiatives at the meeting:

Report to President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy (for full report click here)

The Committee on the Underserved made significant progress in developing a robust strategy and implementing initiatives to increase financial literacy among low-wealth individuals and under-served communities. The Committee focused on: increasing access to financial services and financial education; educating youth in low-wealth schools and traditionally minority colleges and universities; promoting volunteerism; recognizing the states and cities active in the financial literacy field and working to increase that number; developing a plan to ensure future best practices in subprime lending; consulting with Federal agencies to enhance their efforts; and, improving collaboration within the private sector to promote financial literacy in such communities. The Committee on the Underserved has also supported the efforts of the Outreach and Youth Committees in overlapping areas of focus.

In addition the Committee has co-hosted and participated in a number of outreach events and policy discussions, including roundtables, town hall meetings, promoted and encouraged legislation and listening sessions around the country. The Committee Chairman has participated in Congressional briefings and is tracking legislation related to financial education.

Specifically, the Committee on the Under-Served issued a report on “The Future of Financial Literacy and Responsible Mortgage Subprime Lending,” worked closely with the U.S. Small Business Administration to frame and launch its new and necessary SBA Office of Entrepreneurship Education, crafted and created the Council Financial Literacy Corps, and helped to directly inspire at least one federal legislative proposal to advance financial literacy in American life post-crisis.

Approximately 17 financial literacy bills proposed now making their way through the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, including HR 1325 by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee which was directly inspired by the work of the Council and Operation HOPE’s Banking on Our Future, College Edition and its partnership with the White House Initiative on HBCUs, along with House Resolution 65 by Congresswoman Diane E. Watson, will make the promise of financial literacy real in the lives of every American. A special thank you to the members of Congress and the U.S. Senate, individuals such as U.S. Senator Murray, for making financial literacy a legislative priority.

The Committee specifically advanced recommendations 9 and 10 from the 2008 US President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy Annual Report, which would 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, inclusive of financial literacy tools and education, and as well would separately provide federal funding for non-profit and faith-based organizations providing community-based financial literacy programs and services, and for state and local governments and school districts demonstrating leadership in financial education. The Committee also continues to support recommendations made by the Youth and Outreach Committees in the 2008 annual report. Additionally the Committee recommends refocusing on the model states and cities effort.

While much more needs to be done to ensure that a crisis like this never happens again, we recognize that financial literacy and what we at Operation HOPE call learning ‘the language of money’ is the new civil rights issue, and first of many ‘silver rights’ tools to come. We urge continued and added support for these initiatives. Write your Congressional representative to show your support for increased financial literacy legislative leadership.”

About John Hope Bryant

Born February 6, 1966 John Bryant is an American financial literacy and poverty eradication activist, and "silver rights" entrepreneur. He is the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Operation HOPE, America’s first non-profit social investment banking organization, a leading self-help provider of economic empowerment tools and services for the underserved. His work to empower low-wealth communities has earned him a role as the Vice Chair of the U.S. President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy and the Chairman of the Council’s Under-Served Committee. Bryant is author of the new bestselling book LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World. To learn more about him visit www.operationhope.org or follow John Hope Bryant on Twitter at http://twitter.com/johnhopebryant.

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, 3500 nonprofit organizations and schools, and 100 government partners in 69 major U.S. cities and six provinces South Africa, HOPE has raised more than $500 million in its pursuit of educating, assisting and inspiring the next generation of global stakeholders in financial literacy, economic empowerment and silver rights. Through international initiatives and its 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), Walk-In HOPE Centers (loans, bill pay, computer literacy, understanding banking principles), and our 10,000 strong volunteer HOPE Corps, 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. Senior aide to Dr. King in the civil rights movement, Ambassador Andrew Young, serves as global spokesman for Operation HOPE, and icons Quincy Jones and Ambassador Andrew Young co-chair 5MK (5 MILLION KIDS), aimed at breaking the cycle of the high-school dropout epidemic in America. To learn more about HOPE, visit www.operationhope.org and www.5MK.org, or read our blog at www.operationhope.org/blog.

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