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Inspired by President Barack Obama's call to leading private sector and community-based organizations to act now, helping to create youth business internships, jobs and opportunity, Operation HOPE stepped forward and made a unique commitment to actually operationalize the Gallup-HOPE Index Cities Initiative, which is built around our recently launched Gallup-HOPE Index National Poll.  

Operation HOPE was honored to step forward, and to develop something that can show real results in real communities.  Here is how it works. 

On October 13th, 2011, Gallup and Operation HOPE (HOPE) released a first-ever national data poll around youth financial literacy and youth economic energy in America.  Complete summary national Index data findings can be found at

"The short-term goal is youth jobs, but the long-term goal #1, in every major urban city, is moving cities from 77/5, to 77/20." 

The national poll had a 3% margin of error and covered the Q34 breakthrough questions, as designed by Gallup social scientists.  All of the results were both telling and compelling, and further confirmed both Gallup and HOPE's fundamental belief that aspirations, hope and opportunity, and focusing on youth's 'strengths,' rather than their weaknesses, is the key to get young people to both enroll and to become real stakeholders in their own future success. 


One of the most compelling data stat groups that seemed to jump out and distinguish itself from the national raw data, was youth responses to two critical questions:

  1. 77% of all youth report that they want to be their own boss.
  2. 5% of all youth report that they currently have a business internship or business mentor.

We believe that lying within these two data sets are both a critical problem, and a critical, timely answer. Namely, kids who are alive with hope and opportunity, optimism about their lives, and who "want to be their own boss," will move down from a state of hopefulness to a lower state of skepticism and cynicism, and not long thereafter -- without some form of a positive intervention in their lives -- dropping out of school and life (if their desire and hope are not matched by role models and practical opportunity). In other words, if their positive energy has no place to go, it only has but one place to go.

With 77% of all youth reporting that they want to be their own boss, and only 5% of youth reporting that they have a business internship today (or business mentor), the challenge is obvious. 

America simply cannot compete on the world stage, nor create the one million required business start-ups annually that research estimates America needs now to power GDP growth, and the job creation essential for the nation (America creates approximately 400,000 start-ups annually today), without her 50 million youth (5th through 12th grade, public, charter and private schools) showing distinct and increasing levels of economic energy, leading into adulthood.

The Youth Education-Aspiration Problem

We believe this gap also helps to explain the high school dropout rate in America.  If kids feel that their education is disconnected from their aspiration, then they feel less reason to pursue it, particularly when other less traditional options for success may appear readily available to them.  By the time they figure out that these other, more nontraditional routes to success and prosperity are an allusion, it is often too late.

The Systemic Education-Aspiration Problem

No Child Left Behind was and remains well meaning, in the sense that it seeks to insure that youth can read and write before they graduate from high-school.  The challenge with No Child Left Behind is that it mostly tests and confirms a youth’s weaknesses.  If a child is weak in math, respectfully, NCLB will absolutely confirm that they are weak in math, reinforcing youth low self-esteem, and creating limited pathways forward for say a teacher that must ‘educate-against-testing.’ 

The Gallup-HOPE Index Magic

Through the Q34 questions, focused on the youth ‘trending levels’ of hope, well being, engagement, financial literacy, and youth economic energy, the Gallup-HOPE Index (Index) identifies a youth’s strengths, and then finds ways to amplify, showcase and to grow them (using local intervention strategies).

77/5 to 77/20

If 77/5 indicates a problem for the nation or a city, than 77/20 can represent a viable, and even inspiring solution.

Operation HOPE and Gallup will donate use of the Index software to leading school districts across America, with an aim of tracking the trending of youth hope, wellbeing, engagement, financial literacy and economic energy, and then leading private sector, government and community level engagement and intervention strategies, including those of Operation HOPE on-the-ground, to move trending data in the direction of aspiration and increasing economic energy amongst our young people.

The high-impact, localized city-by-city census model of the Index will positively challenge cities to raise their scores; on individual questions, to question/data sets, and on the Index overall. 

Goal #1: Moving Cities from 77/5 to 77/20

We have defined one level of success -- attracting future investment and creating local good jobs -- as moving a typical city from 77/5 to 77/20, or from 5% of youth who report having a business internship or business role model, to 20% of local youth who report having a business internship or business role model.

The mayor, school superintendent, private sector or other leaders who wins the leadership and vision conversation across the nation, and for their own city, is the one who can say in a few years,  “according to the Gallup-HOPE Index for our city, 20% of all our youth today have a business mentor or business internship here.”  

Showing a positive trend line from 77/5 to 77/20 says that 'this is a city on the move with positive and empowering youth economic energy,' and that the future is young, engaged, bright and alive. A city alive with small business creation and entrepreneurship, and future opportunity, all rooted in almighty good jobs.

“The Gallup-HOPE Index measures student’s financial literacy and attitudes toward entrepreneurship and innovation, which in turn predict future economic energy in your city. Cities need results from this survey from each school, but the most telling behavioral economic metric to w atch is the direction and speed – the trends – of these markers.  So, if the image of free enterprise and entrepreneurship is going up among your youth, you will experience job creation.  If it is trending down, may God be with you.” 

Jim Clifton, Chairman and CEO, Gallup

“I am successful today because as a 10 year old I was hopeful, I had positive role models, and a teacher and other influencers that helped me focus on my strengths.  My first role model in school was a banker in a dark blue suit, who unpacked for me the mysterious language of money, or ‘financial literacy.’  From there my endorphins began firing in my brain, my energy level elevated, and I became excited about who I could be, and what I could do. School became how I punched that aspirational ticket.”

John Hope Bryant, Founder, Chairman and CEO, Operation HOPE 

How to the Engage the Index in your city

To “Win the Future,” Gallup and HOPE believe that every city in America should engage the Index in the following ways:

  1. Ask for the Gallup-HOPE Index to be donated to your local school district for use semi-annually with all your youth, 5th-12th grade (easy online access and participant anonymity).
  2. Create a local Mayor’s Financial Literacy Council, with 12-appointed local leaders from government, community and the private sector, which compliments the US President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability.
  3. Engage Operation HOPE, Junior Achievement, the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the local United Way, 100 Black Men of America, National Mentoring Cares Network, the local Rotary Club, the chamber and others, as on-the-ground intervention strategies in your city.
  4. Rally the private sector to provide local business internships and local business role models.
  5. Track and publicly report out on local Index trending data at least annually for your city.
  6. Talk-in trending Index results throughout the year as a means of energizing and engaging sustained city leadership.
  7. Compete with other cities for preeminent leadership around youth financial literacy and youth economic energy in America.
  8. Operationalize youth aspiration and youth economic energy through youth start-ups.

Working with President Obama and the White House, we will launch this initiative as a phase I operation pilot, first amongst a cluster of schools and neighborhoods in a couple strategic HOPE locations, delivering local impact and real results.  Following phase I, we will then open it up to other cities and areas that desire change --- and that believe that youth can be a real part of the solution.

Thanks Mr. President for your leadership, and for encouraging us to move!

Okay, let's go.


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. 



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