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WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–July 27, 2005–Operation HOPE, Inc. (OHI) and Citigroup encouraged high school and college students to use their credit wisely and avoid common financial pitfalls in an interactive "Banking on Our Future" seminar at Howard University’s Blackburn Center this morning, Wednesday, July 27. According to a recent study commissioned by OHI, "The State of Financial Literacy Amongst Young African-American Adults in America," and administered by Dr. Lewis Mandell and the Jump$tart Coalition, many university administrators believe that credit card debt leads to a higher drop out rate than academic failure.

OHI’s Founder, Chairman and CEO, John Bryant, encouraged students not to fall victim to credit debt and will educate attendees on OHI’s growing Silver Right Movement to promote financial literacy and empowerment.

"Operation HOPE would like to thank Citigroup and the Citigroup Foundation for helping us make this ‘Banking on Our Future’ event happen," Bryant said. "We live in a nation where nearly one-third of high school seniors have credit cards, even more have debit cards, and an average of 1.5 million families file for personal bankruptcy each year. The need for personal financial literacy rings loud and clear."

In February, Citigroup announced a $500,000 grant from the Citigroup Foundation to expand the "Banking on Our Future" program to reach 10,000 students in seven cities, including Washington, DC; Baltimore; New York City; Chicago; Los Angeles; Oakland, Calif.; and Atlanta. In addition, Citigroup employees volunteer as HOPE Corps banker-teachers to educate students about the basics of earning income, budgeting, saving and investing. Since its inception, "Banking on Our Future" has served over 140,000 individuals nationwide.

"We are pleased to support Operation HOPE and the expansion of a program that empowers so many young people in underserved communities to become more knowledgeable about personal finance," said Dara Duguay, Director of Citigroup’s Office of Financial Education, on behalf of the Citigroup Foundation. "At Citigroup, we are dedicated to providing quality financial education programs to help people learn how to build their financial lives. We believe that providing financial education to students today will help build strong communities tomorrow."

Recently, Citigroup and the Citigroup Foundation announced a 10-year, $200 million global financial education commitment, the formation of a new Office of Financial Education and a global initiative designed to encourage its 300,000 employees around the world to devote time to support financial education and other charitable causes. Under the new initiative, employees may take a day off from work to volunteer for non-profit organizations in their communities.

"Banking on Our Future" is part of Operation HOPE’s Silver Rights Movement to eradicate poverty by empowering the underserved. The Silver Rights Movement is aimed to continue and build upon the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the famed Civil Rights movement, by educating minorities, low-income families and youth on financial empowerment.

Bryant continued, "Ambassador Andrew Young, the right arm to the late Dr. King and our national spokesman for HOPE and the Silver Rights Movement, recently told me that he, King and others succeeded in integrating the lunch counter, the public building and even the school house, but never the dollar. This is the work that Dr. King would be doing if he were alive today."

In addition to Bryant’s stirring remarks, National Capital Revitalization Corporation (NCRC) president Anthony Freeman, and OHI SVP, Chief of Financial Literacy, Initiatives Mary Hagerty delivered welcoming address.

About Citigroup

The Citigroup Financial Education Program is a global, company-wide effort to identify, support and implement initiatives that help give individuals, families and communities the tools needed to make sound financial decisions. Citigroup’s 10-year, $200 million global financial education commitment is focused in three areas: Personal Financial Education, Small Business Financial Education, and Institutional Financial Education. Additional information about Citigroup’s Financial Education Program, including Foundation guidelines, links and resources, including the Citigroup Financial Education Program Curriculum and Facilitator’s Guide may be found at: www.citigroup.com/citigroup/financialeducation.

Citigroup (NYSE:C), the leading global financial services company has some 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 100 countries, providing consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, and wealth management. Major brand names under Citigroup’s trademark red umbrella include Citibank, CitiFinancial, Primerica, Smith Barney and Banamex. Additional information may be found at www.citigroup.com

About Operation HOPE:

Operation HOPE, Inc. (OHI) is America’s first nonprofit social investment bank and a national provider of financial literacy and economic empowerment programs. Through ongoing collaborations and long-term partnerships with leading government, private sector, and community interests, OHI works to bring self-sufficiency and a sustained spirit of revitalization to America’s inner-city communities. OHI’s HOPE Centers, a growing network of inner-city banking centers. They have created more than 800 new homeowners and small business owners, more than $125 million in funded loans, and more than $210 million in commitments for homeownership and small business loans from their 250 bank and corporate partners. For more information visit: www.operationhope.org, www.bankingonourfuture.org, and www.hopecoalitionamerica.org.

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