When I founded Operation HOPE at age 26, no one took me seriously. Most of our leaders in Los Angeles, actually laughed at me behind my back, and some of them in my face — when they heard my vision for Operation HOPE.
Today, no one is laughing about Operation HOPE — which is serving more than 400 underserved communities nationwide, and even making a difference today internationally. But all of this began with a dream, from a dreamer, at a very early age. But I didn’t do any of this by myself. I had a lot of help, encouragement, and mentors. I still have mentors in my life, at close to 50 years old.
My life was one long, actively engaged ‘internship.’ And many, many leaders allowed me to ‘apprentice,’ so to speak, at their knee. This non-stop ‘office experience’ made me immune to fear of trying, and comfortable most everywhere. Yet, I wasn’t the best of student. But, I made it. And today I employ more than 250 people in my various activities and organizations.
We decided at Operation HOPE, to help inspire this same spirit in a generation of young people who could help revitalization a nation if they were positively ‘put to work,’ so to speak. Many of these young people don’t have A+ grades. Not even close, frankly. Growing up, I maintained more like a C+ grade in most of my classes.
But what if we focused on the millions of brilliant young people, who get a C, D, even an F grade in school, and encourage these same young people to get a B- in school? It just might change everything.
We call this the HOPE B- Business Compact, which is presently co-chaired by friend and fellow YGL (Young Global Leader) Kat Cole, Group President for FOCUS Brands, and myself, and was first publicly announced in June, 2015, during CGI America in Denver, Colorado, where it was featured amongst a select group of others as part of Secretary Hillary Clinton’s Job One initiative.
Well, we have already gotten to work here (more on what we have already done later), but you can take a sneak peak at what we have planned for America in this piece, entitled Internship America: Putting A Generation to Work, which I wrote and published today on the LinkedIn Influencer platform.
Let me know what you think. Help us spread the word. Help us spark a new silver rights movement in the suites, to compliment the incredible civil rights movement — which took place primarily in the streets. It’s time, for a new movement.
John Hope Bryant