Jackjohn_signingclose_800x600_2WASHINGTON, January 11, 2006 — The American Red Cross today signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Operation HOPE, Incorporated, a nonprofit public benefit organization founded in Los Angeles immediately following the civil unrest of April 29, 1992. The Memorandum provides for mutual cooperation between the two organizations to provide financial and economic counseling services to those in disaster affected areas.

John Bryant, founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE, Incorporated, and Jack McGuire, interim president and CEO of the American Red Cross, met at American Red Cross national headquarters in to sign the important document.

“The American Red Cross has achieved great success in addressing relief for people affected by catastrophic events here and abroad.  HOPE Coalition America, the nation’s recognized second-stage emergency disaster economic response  and the American Red Cross have come together to vertically integrate our services. The combined efforts of our two organizations will certainly make a positive difference in the lives of so many," said Operation HOPE founder and CEO John Bryant.McGuire adds, “The Red Cross is excited to be working with Operation HOPE and other partners to help disaster victims regain financial independence. We are grateful for all of our partners and are optimistic that their expertise will allow us to better help communities in affected areas.”

The spirit of collaboration is tantamount during times of disaster, and the Memorandum serves as a symbol of the future commitment both groups are making to the community.Through the Operation HOPE Coalition America program, financial guidance such as credit counseling, agency referrals, economic education and debt restructuring will be provided to individuals and small businesses that have been affected by a disaster or emergency.These services will be provided through the existing resources Operation HOPE has developed and maintained within the banking, financial and insurance industries. As part of the plan, financial specialists will volunteer their expertise to provide economic triage and reintegration to meet immediate needs following a disaster.

Through a series of public and private partnerships and strategic alliances, Operation HOPE has developed and implemented various programs focused on connecting minority communities with mainstream private sector resources and empowering underserved communities. The goal to increase direct support and involvement with community based nonprofit organizations has been achieved by Operation HOPE with the signing of the Memorandum.

The Red Cross, with a network of more than 800 chapters, has provided disaster relief to Americans for nearly 125 years. In the past year alone, relief efforts were required for more than 70,000 disasters ranging from residential house fires to devastating hurricanes. Without the support of the American public, hundreds of thousands of selfless volunteers and partnerships with other agencies, meeting the needs of disaster victims would not be possible.

The partnership with Operation HOPE is a reminder that the Red Cross is committed to being a part of the recovery process for those communities adversely affected by disasters.

American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people.You can help the victims of the recent hurricanes and thousands of other disasters across the country each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to those in need. Call 1-800-HELP NOW or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish).Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, .Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting .The American Red Cross honors donor intent. If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster please do so at the time of your donation.

Operation HOPE, Inc. (HOPE) is ‘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, HOPE works to bring self-sufficiency and a sustained spirit of revitalization to ‘s inner-city communities. are a growing network of inner-city banking centers. To date, HOPE has created more than 800 new homeowners and small business owners, more than $125 million in funded loans, and more than $240 million in commitments for homeownership and small business loans from their 250 bank and corporate partners. In partnership with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and a network of private and community partners, HOPE Coalition America has provided free financial counseling and casework services to Americans affected by natural disasters and national emergencies in 125 cities in 35 states to date. Taken together, these programs make Operation HOPE the national leader in economic empowerment tools and services . HOPE and its programs can be found online at www.operationhope.org.

HOPE Coalition America (HCA) was created in 2001 in response to the 9/11 joining forces with FEMA and Citizen Corps, a division of the Department of Homeland Security’s nationwide grass-roots initiative, to actively involve Americans in creating safer, stronger and better prepared communities. It is the national emergency preparedness and assistance division of Operation HOPE, Inc. ’s leading provider of economic empowerment tools and services.  The coalition is a collaboration of senior executives and professionals from the banking and financial services, insurance, and other industries.  Additional industries include higher education, social service, and community services agencies, which provide financial and economic guidance and assistance to individuals and small businesses affected by emergencies and disasters. Two principal products have been created by HCA to address the needs of emergency preparation. The Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK), a document which allows individuals to create detailed listings of their important personal contact, financial and legal information; and the companion document, the Personal Disaster Preparedness Guide (PDPG) which guides them through required survival and recovery information and the steps they should take prior to an emergency.

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