By Michelle D. Anderson — Black College Wiire   

When he was 18, John Hope Bryant spent six months homeless. He lived in his car until he could find another place to live.

“People talk about financial illiteracy statistically, but for me, it was reality,” says Bryant, who is the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Operation HOPE, an economic empowerment organization that describes itself as “America’s first non-profit social investment banking organization.”

To help college students become financially independent individuals, Operation HOPE in collaboration with the White House, launched  “Banking On Our Future, College Edition” on Jan. 15., with  Spelman College acting as the new program’s “kick-off” college.

The title of the program borrows from Bryant's 2002 book, "Banking on Our Future: A Program for Teaching You and Your Kids about Money." Growing up, Bryant witnessed firsthand how the lack of financial literacy can put on strain on personal relationships—his parents divorced over money.

Jane E. Smith, executive director of LEADS at Spelman College, will be responsible for implementing the program at Spelman. Established in 2003, LEADS promotes leadership, financial empowerment and economic development among black women.

Smith says Spelman students have had several opportunities to become financially savvy over the past few years with the college’s Investment Club, Economic Empowerment Initiative and other programs.

Bryant_tisdale In October 2007 Spelman and Lehman Brothers Holding Inc. announced the Lehman Brothers Center for Global Finance and Economic Development. After the collapse of Lehman Brothers last year, the future of the Center remained uncertain, although a spokesperson told Black College Wire in September, “So far, we have been able to add Chinese to our curriculum, create new office space and video conferencing capability, and recruit a new leader for our global finance and economic development initiative.”

“Banking on Our Future, College Edition” will implement a series of workshops that teach students about effective money management, creating and implementing a budget during a recession, and personal finance.

Bryant hopes the program will positively impact HBCU students to help their alma maters after graduation. “Culturally, we need to build a spirit of philanthropy,” Bryant said.


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