Oakland Unified School District and Operation HOPE: Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) is expanding their partnership to deliver “Banking on Our Future” financial literacy education to every 4th – 12th grade student, approximately 14,000 students, in the Oakland Public Schools. This project will launch the Gallup HOPE Index and the HOPE Business-in-a-Box initiative. The project will consist of small businesses and entrepreneurial endeavors run by students which are easy to start, fund and operate and tailored for the interests and capabilities of Oakland youth. The Gallup HOPE Index will measure each student's level of hope, well-being, engagement, financial literacy, and economic energy.  Official White House Announcement here.


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While the above text is from the White House announcement directly, these are my words.  Dr. Tony Smith, superintendent of the Oakland Public School District, is a pioneering leader in K-12 education in this country.  That does not mean he is not without criticism, critics or faults.  Frankly, if you want to be the focus of public outcry these days, design yourself as a public school superintendent in this country today.  No good deed shall go unpunished.  That said, Dr. Smith is pioneering a way forward for our children beyond the current mess they presently find themselves in.   

It was Dr. Smith who okay-ed our work in the Oakland School District years ago, providing on-the-ground financial literacy and financial dignity curriculum and educational services for children there, no impacting thousands.

It was Dr. Smith who later okay-ed a district-wide memorandum of agreement between Oakland Schools and Operation HOPE, focused on providing financial literacy for all.

And it was Dr. Smith who early on, got me thinking about and focused on what else we could do for our children to stoke their business interest and entrepreneurship engagement, when he suggested we find a way to help his young people "fund business ideas."  Two years following this visionary thought by Dr. Smith, placed deep in the recesses of my mind, we are about to launch HOPE Business In A Box across this country, which we believe will literally transform the lives of our children, and ultimately crush the high-school dropout rate in America.  HOPE Business In A Box will help this country reconnect the power of education and aspiration in public education and schools.

And so, it is fitting that the White House, President Barack Obama and the Obama Administration saw fit to honor Dr. Smith and his leadership at and with Oakland Public Schools as one of the lead, and soon pioneering leaders driving on-the-ground change with and through HOPE Business In A Box.  

It is also commendable and noteworthy that Dr. Tony Smith was invited by President Obama and the Administration to attend the White House Summit on Financial Capability last week at the White House on May 10th, 2012, representing Oakland Public School District.

Read the complete White House announcement this week here, but you will soon be able to physically witness the change we talk about, on the ground and in classrooms throughout Oakland Public Schools and many other school districts like it across America in the weeks, months and years to come.

Hats off and commendations to Dr. Anthony Smith for his leadership, and his bold vision for our children. Rainbows only follow storms, and as I say in my bestselling business book LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World, "loss creates leaders."  The best is yet to come for our children, and we will each of us, be the change we want to see in our world.



John Hope Bryant is a thought leader, founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE and Bryant Group Companies, Inc. Magazine/CEO READ bestselling business author of LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass) the only African-American bestselling business author in America, and is chairman of the Subcommittee for the Under-Served and Community Empowerment for the U.S. President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability, for President Barack Obama.  Mr. Bryant is the co-founder of the Gallup-HOPE Index, the only national research poll on youth financial dignity and youth economic energy in the U.S. He is also a co-founder of Global Dignity with HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway and Professor Pekka Himanen of Finland. Global Dignity is affiliated with the Forum of Young Global Leaders and the World Economic Forum. 

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