LOS ANGELES – August 26, 2010 – Operation HOPE (HOPE) Chairman, Founder and CEO John Hope Bryant announced this week that their Financial Literacy Empowerment Educational Program Banking on Our Future (BOOF), the nation's leading urban delivery system for financial literacy empowerment, reached a momentous milestone by surpassing the 500K youth educated mark in the U.S. and South Africa. Since creating the program in 1996, HOPE has educated and empowered 501,726 youth in dignity, the real wealth of an individual, and the basics of banking, credit, and investments through their award-winning financial literacy curriculum.
“The Banking on Our Future program is the cornerstone of what we do at HOPE,” said HOPE founder and business bestselling author John Hope Bryant. “Post global economic crisis, financial literacy is the new civil rights issue for all people, not just the poor and underserved. Reaching young people before their financial habits, virtues and values are formed is an investment in the future.”
BOOF is a global financial literacy empowerment curriculum available to students ages 9-18 and it is the winner of Oprah’s Angel Network Award and the U.S. Treasury Department’s John Sherman Award for Financial Literacy Excellence. HOPE’s BOOF partners include local departments of education, school districts, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), several U.S. Federal Banks within the Federal Reserve System, America’s Promise Alliance, and over 200 additional public and private partners.
The five-part financial literacy program is taught by HOPE Corps volunteers who are trained to convey their knowledge of banking and credit into tangible concepts that gives students the tools to build a financially secure future. These trained HOPE Corps volunteers also double as role models for our youth, helping them to dream big and to aspire to "be more."
“Financial literacy isn’t just about numbers; it’s about understanding the emotional reasons behind what we do with our money,” said Mary L. Hagerty, Operation HOPE’s first senior vice president and global chief of financial literacy. “Helping the future leaders of tomorrow, the future homeowners of tomorrow and the future business owners and entrepreneurs of tomorrow understand the difference between wants and needs is the first step towards financial responsibility and hopefully one day financial freedom.”
The program begins with a one-hour module on dignity which is designed to inspire students to treat themselves and others with respect, and to understand that their "real wealth" is inside of them. The remainder of the program includes lessons in the basics of banking, budgeting, checking and savings accounts, credit and investments, in four one-hour sessions. Additionally, in some regions such as South Africa, there is a focus on entrepreneurship and female youth empowerment.
In an effort to reach youth in all fifty states twenty-four seven, HOPE launched www.bankingonourfuture.org – an online edition of the financial literacy program. This version is interactive and designed for elementary school children as well as young-adults. www.bankingonourfuture.org can be self-guided or instructed by volunteers or teachers and can be accessed by individual students at home or at school for self-paced instruction. The online program engages students with fun, cutting-edge technology that fits into their fast-paced, tech-based worlds. While students interact with the program, they learn the language of money, how it affects their everyday lives and, best of all, how to be in control of their financial future.
In a nation where nearly a third of high school seniors already use a credit card, a higher proportion have an ATM card, and nearly 1.5 million families filed for bankruptcy last year, the need for personal financial literacy is greater than ever. Yet fewer than 30 percent of young Americans are given specific instruction on personal finance in high school. By teaching financial literacy, BOOF’s ultimate goal is to break the cycle of economic poverty that plagues our underserved communities.
In an effort to help students manage debt they incur while attending university, an age-specific version of the BOOF curriculum was launched on college campuses on January 15, 2009. Banking on Our Future College Edition is currently being delivered on ten campuses and will expand to all Historically Black Colleges and Universities and several target CUNY and SUNY schools in New York within five years.
In support of the FIVE MILLION KIDS Initiative (5MK), the BOOF Celebrity Edition is being created as a celebrity branded and supported version of the Banking on Our Future program. The BOOF Celebrity Edition has enlisted the endorsement from top entertainment personalities which includes support from Quincy Jones and Ambassador Andrew Young (National Co-Chairs of 5MK), Quincy “QD3” Jones III, Tyrese Gibson, Robert Davi and Jeff Johnson.
HOPE thanks all the volunteers, partners and students who have made it possible for us to reach this milestone. For more information on Banking on Our Future or specific information on how to join the Operation HOPE Corps of volunteers, please contact us at www.operationhope.org or follow us at Twitter and Facebook.