As I wrote in a recent piece for the Huffington Post, after helping to establish financial literacy as federal policy in the United States in 2008, and working closely with the White House and our committed President Barack Obama to make financial literacy real for every American (even a requirement for every child in school), respectfully, I am actually now moving away from the traditional definition of financial literacy, per se. I am now moving actively towards an operational vision for financial dignity. The Operation HOPE website actually now describes our organization as a "global leader in financial dignity." Our global vision was but one of the reasons why the world could find me in Morocco earlier this week, launching the Arabic version of our Wikia-HOPE Global Money Initiative.
I don't believe that you can find any truly successful brand or company in America that wasn't "aspirational," and I believe the same is true for financial literacy. It has been positioned (by well intentional people) as a left-brain/left-brain, mostly analytical issue. In other words, a logic table. But that is not the way people operate, nor even the way they see their lives or priorities. If you want to speak to people, and to get them to "move" in their lives — you must speak to their aspirations in life. This is particularly true amongst inner-city, under-served and low-wealth communities. Places where people are more poor than they are poor.
"There is a difference between being broke and being poor. Being broke is a temporary economic condition, but being poor is a disabling frame of mind and a depressed condition of the soul. We must vow to never, ever be poor again."
And so, financial literacy still has a role in what comes next, and I would even say a critically important role, but financial literacy is tactical, while financial dignity is more strategic.
Financial dignity is the vision of where we are going, and the why (the aspiration), and financial literacy is the first tool in a new silver rights movement world, designed to make it all go "click."
The first silver rights empowerment tool is financial literacy, but financial dignity is the overall goal for the silver rights movement.
Financial education, leading to financial literacy, leading to financial capability, leading to financial and economic empowerment — all of these are part of my vision for financial dignity for all. All of this frames out the structure, the roots and the very foundation for a growing silver rights movement that will impact America, and around the world too.
Onward and with HOPE
John Hope Bryant is a thought leader, founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE and Bryant Group Companies, Inc. Magazine/CEO READ bestselling business author of LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass) the only African-American bestselling business author in America, and a Member of the U.S. President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for President Barack Obama. Mr. Bryant is the co-founder of the Gallup-HOPE Index, the only national research poll on youth financial dignity and youth economic energy in the U.S. He is also a co-founder of Global Dignity with HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway and Professor Pekka Himanen of Finland. Global Dignity is affiliated with the Forum of Young Global Leaders and the World Economic Forum.