HOPE Founder, Chairman and CEO, John Hope Bryant testifies on importance of
financial knowledge and personal empowerment before California State Assembly

LOS ANGELES, CA – February 20, 2007 – Supporting California Assembly Banking Committee Chair Ted Lieu’s (D-Torrance) Bill AB 1950, Operation HOPE Founder, Chairman and CEO, John Hope Bryant appeared before the California State Assembly today appealing to state policy makers to enact legislation that will increase the financial literacy of Californians.  AB 1950 was introduced last August by Assemblyman Lieu, to provide teachers with the resources to teach students fiscal responsibility.

“As finances become increasingly more complicated, it is critically important to educate youth with the skills required to cope with modern day money management.” Bryant stated. “If silver rights is about making capitalism and free enterprise system work for the poor, and about better choice making by the poor themselves, then financial literacy should be the first silver right of the movement. When you know better, you do better. Education is your best defense against predators, and the ultimate poverty eradication tool."

The Assembly Banking Committee has been conducting these meetings as a way of building support for the bill. As Chairman of the Assembly Banking Committee, Lieu is hoping today’s testimony will bolster support for the legislation. Currently the educational system in California does not have a mandated curriculum on financial literacy.

Banking on Our Future, is an award-winning, on-the-ground financial literacy program created by Operation HOPE to inspire and empower inner-city kids on the basics of banking, earning income, budgeting, saving and investing. Nearly 110,000 students have been trained by some 595 HOPE Corps volunteer teachers in the Los Angeles classrooms since the program was initiated in 1996 and nationally, the program has educated more than 212,000 students to date.  Since 1992 Operation HOPE has raised and invested $400 million into the communities it serves.

Operation HOPE is America’s first nonprofit social investment bank and a national provider of financial literacy and economic empowerment programs, has also supported financial literacy policy in other states. With legislative support, Delaware and West Virginia have successfully developed several school curriculums that provide students with a fundamental understanding of personal financial responsibility. HOPE would like to see similar legislation passed in California.

Because of Operation HOPE’s long-standing leadership and on-the-ground practical experience on the topic, Assemblyman Lieu requested that Bryant provide lead testimony. Also testifying in today’s hearing are: Pamela Erwin, Wells Fargo Foundation; Leticia Aguilar, Bank of America; Mary Hogarty, Citi Bank; George Poitou, SCE Federal Credit Union; Ginger McNally, Santa Cruz Community Credit Union; Patrick Dwyer, MasterCard; Dory Rand, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law; Tena Lozano, Richard Myles Johnson Foundation;  Carol D. Chesbrough, Alana Golden & Coleen Toste; The Department of Financial Institutions and the Learn to Earn Program; Jason Alderman, Jump $tart Coalition & Director of Financial Education for Visa; Olivia Calderon, The New America Foundation; Bruce Allen, California Society of CPAs; Rear Admiral Hering, United States Navy; Robert Basso, Foundation for Investor Education; Katie Nemer, Center High School; and Peter Lake, ByDesign Financial Solutions.

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