Operation_hope_logo_new_23LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–May 18, 2006–John Hope Bryant, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE, financial literacy and economic empowerment leader, announced today his support of Ambassador Andrew Young’s work for Wal-Mart and his efforts helping Wal-Mart make improvements top to bottom by creating positive activity within the organization through community dialogue and effective partnerships.

"Ambassador Young’s role is as a conscientious, objective observer, providing praise where deserving on the one hand and constructive criticism in an effort to make things better on the other," John Bryant said. "Quoting a CEO friend of mine, I would rather have Andrew Young at the table with the CEO of Wal-Mart, than not."

Bryant noted Young’s approach has been to create committees to build bridges where possible and his view that the growth of Wal-Mart provides opportunity for struggling urban areas and brings access and resources or "silver rights" to America’s underserved areas. Wal-Mart plans to open more than 50 stores will create up to 25,000 jobs in areas that desperately need employment.

Bryant asserts, "Ambassador Young is doing the same thing he did during the civil rights movement, fighting for justice for the poor. He simply moved the venue from the streets of civil rights to the suites of silver rights, because times have changed."

While Bryant recognizes that Wal-Mart has a lot of room for improvement, he noted that each year Wal-Mart pays more than $11.2 billion in state and local sales taxes and millions in property taxes, which fund local police, fire departments and schools. He also cited that, "Wal-Mart may not be paying its workers more, but they have delivered on the promise to make poor people pay less. A family of four that makes $25,000 a year can save approximately $2,400 – a significant amount when every penny counts."

About Ambassador Andrew Young

Ambassador Andrew Young is a former Atlanta mayor, Congressman and UN ambassador for the United States; co-chair of the Atlanta Olympic Games, winner of the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Carter, National Spokesman for Operation HOPE as well as Chairman of Goodworks International, his own private sector company that empowers young Africans in Africa to become professionals. Ambassador Young is a living legend; one of the few who walked side by side with the late Dr. King. "Andrew Young is representing me when he sits at the table with the chief executive officer of the largest retailer in the world today. Ambassador Young is taking the opportunity to make a difference," John Hope Bryant continued. "He is representing my and our collective interest, and doing it with the respect, integrity and dignity that only a bridge builder with the magnitude of Andrew Young can bring."

About Operation HOPE, Inc.

Operation HOPE, Inc. is America’s first nonprofit social investment bank and a national provider of financial literacy and economic empowerment programs. It works to bring self-sufficiency and a sustained spirit of revitalization to America’s inner-city communities. The three key programs, which serve as the foundation for delivering HOPE’s financial literacy programs are HOPE Coalition America, Banking on Our Future, and neighborhood HOPE Centers. To date, HOPE has created more than 800 new homeowners and 250 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. Operation HOPE has helped thousands of Katrina victims with emergency financial counseling as well as helped thousands more through a partnership with former President Clinton and the Clinton Foundation to claim EITC benefits Katrina victims rightly deserve from the federal government. At the core of HOPE’s mission to eradicate poverty and empower the wealthless is a movement to establish "silver rights" or the right to financial literacy, access to capital, and equality of opportunity for the underserved. HOPE and its programs can be found online at www.operationhope.org.

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