Grant will help nonprofit assist in small business development and growth

LOS ANGELES–(March 8, 2010)–Financial literacy nonprofit Operation HOPE (HOPE) announced today a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) to help train small business owners and promote innovation and competitiveness in small business throughout New York City. The award is one of many set to prepare and encourage American regions for growth and success in the ailing economy.

The program, which will be administered by the HOPE Center located in Harlem, will help future entrepreneurs navigate through the oftentimes confusing steps that lead to creating a new business. The funds will help HOPE bolster the already existing Entrepreneurship Program and focus on creating a small business technical support aspect to their curriculum. Operation HOPE has been active in the New York area for the last two years, operating a full service center at 2511 Frederick Douglass Boulevard in Harlem.

“We are excited to join forces with the EDA in helping advance American small business and recover from this economic slowdown with sound fundamentals,” said Operation HOPE Founder, Chairman and CEO John Hope Bryant. “America is at its best when we invest in human capital and embrace innovation and change.”

The U.S. Economic Development Administration recognized the value of HOPE in 1999, providing $200,000 to help fund the flagship Inner City Cyber Café, in Los Angeles. In 2002, the agency provided funding to support HOPE’s Small Business Initiative.

The EDA's investment priorities are designed to establish a foundation for sustainable job growth and the building of durable regional economies throughout the United States. This foundation builds upon two key economic drivers – innovation and regional collaboration. Innovation is the key to global competitiveness, new and better jobs, a resilient economy, and the attainment of national economic goals. Regional collaboration is essential for economic recovery because regions are the centers of competition in the new global economy and those that work together to leverage resources and use strengths to overcome weaknesses will fare better than those that do not. EDA encourages its partners around the country to develop initiatives that advance new ideas and creative approaches to address rapidly evolving economic conditions.

“Operation HOPE is a strong partner in the effort to rebuild economically distressed communities around the country to foster growth and job creation. The U.S. Economic Development Administration looks forward to collaborating with the organization to support entrepreneurs and small businesses in New York City,” said John Fernandez, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development who heads EDA.

The HOPE Center, New York has served over 30,000 individuals in the Harlem and surrounding areas since opening its doors in October 2007. To date, the Center has educated and counseled over 2,500 adults in financial literacy, provided small business technical assistance counseling to 308 small businesses and helped individuals obtain over $11 million dollars in mortgage and business loans.

About Economic Development Administration (EDA)
The Economic Development Administration (EDA) marks 45 years of public service, leading the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing American regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. EDA is an agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce that partners with distressed communities throughout the United States to foster job creation, regional collaboration and innovation.

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 69 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.

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