Born after the worst riot and civil unrest in our nation's history, I remember my own personal frustration in the hours and days following the rioting in South Central Los Angeles. I also remember precisely right where I was, at the exact time when our community seemed to come unglued. I was standing in my westside offices for Bryant Group Companies, then located at Santa Monica and Sepulveda Boulevard in the Westwood Gateway complex buildings. I was standing there, looking at my community burn.
I will tell my own personal story in a separate post, but needless to say, what I saw, made me want to act. And act we did. Soon, Operation HOPE had assembled its first loyal employees, led by my chief of staff Rachael Doff who is still with me today, soon followed by Lance Triggs, now executive vice president, and not long thereafter came Mary Hagerty, now Mrs. Mary Hagerty Ehrsam, who is first senior vice president and global chief of financial literacy. Then came our own Jena Roscoe, who literally walked out the door from her last job at the White House working in the second term of President Bill Clinton, to run our then new Operation HOPE Office of Government Relations and Public Policy. And then there was my best friend Rod McGrew, who was the first HOPE Corps volunteer for the organization. And then there was Fred Smith, our first president, and so many others. Slowly, all the executive and senior leadership team pieces began to come together.
HOPE has four principle divisions, HOPE Coalition America, HOPE Financial Dignity Centers (featuring 700 Credit Score Communities), Banking on Our Future and our newest division, HOPE Business In A Box (inclusive of the Gallup-HOPE Index), and has now been on the move for 20 years, serving South Central Los Angeles and countless underserved communities across the country; even around the world, just like it.
Here is a quick snapshot of our global results (not including the work and results of Global Dignity, a sister organization to Operation HOPE):
$1.4 billion – the amount raised and invested by HOPE in and for the under-served population, from private and public sources.
1,000 Plus - the number low-wealth homeowners and small business owners created and funded with responsible mortgage and small business loans.
Just one of these countless minority owned small business success stories is Drobe Clothing (http://www.drobe.com/Story.html). I purchase all of my professional suits from this HOPE success story, paying full retail, which is recycling black dollars too. Drobe was created by a young black man, not much older than myself when I started Operation HOPE, and now it employs 6 local people, pays its local taxes, and in so doing adds to the whole of Los Angeles. This is the real story of where most jobs come from.
$500 Million – the value of the subprime mortgages that the Mortgage HOPE Crisis Hotline has modified or restructured in the subprime crisis, at no cost to the borrower.
155,243 – the number of individuals directly assisted by the National Mortgage HOPE Crisis Hotline.
241,577 – the number of individuals educated in the homebuyer, credit, small business, EITC, and foreclosure prevention workshops.
150,000 – the number of individuals HOPE served in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. And we are still there, serving others years after.
$15 Million – the amount of Earned Income Tax Credits funded to survivors of Hurricane Katrina alone.
273 – the number of cities in the U.S. and South Africa where HOPE currently exists.
5,000 – number of current HOPE partnerships with private sector companies, non-profit organizations, schools and government entities.
30,369 – the number youth and adults educated through the Banking on Our Future program in South Africa alone.
45,828 – the number HOPE Cyber Cafés memberships, including the Cyber Cafe at 3721 South La Brea Avenue, in L.A.
2,000,000 – individuals served to date through HOPE’s Empowerment programs, Banking on Our Future, the HOPE Financial Dignity Centers and HOPE Coalition America.
Today, HOPE is headquartered at Wilshire Boulevard and Hope Street in Downtown, L.A. and led there by our president and chief operating officer Mr. Bill Walbrecher.
And thanks to proceeds from the recent Opportunity Bus Tour, we will now be able to keep the doors open to the HOPE Financial Dignity Center office on La Brea. A location which we have funded out of our own internal resources over the last year; after the center lost a historic sponsor to the economy. We simply did not want to see that original office in and for our community closed, so we wrote the check ourselves.
And so, then as in now, Operation HOPE considers itself her first investor in mission, passion, purpose, plan and execution "on the ground" for our community.
Stay tuned, as the best is truly yet to come for Operation HOPE and the countless underserved communities and individuals we serve.
Okay, let's go.
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 f="http://www.loveleadershipbook.com/">LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass) the only African-American bestselling business author in America, and is chairman of the Subcommittee for the Under-Served and Community Empowerment for 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.