Moderated by Rick Badie

Too many of us would either flunk or barely pass a grading of our personal financial literacy. Many of Atlanta’s business leaders are aware of the problem and support various efforts to strengthen the region’s consumer literacy rates and put folks in control of their money and lives. Today, SunTrust CEO Jenner Wood writes about the commitment by leaders across Georgia to educate consumers. I highlight the HOPE Financial Dignity Center located at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church.

A mission for ‘Silver Rights’

By Rick Badie

On Nov. 14, hundreds of people gathered at the Operation HOPE Financial Dignity Center to celebrate the opening of the Atlanta complex. The nonprofit’s work to advance financial literacy and economic empowerment, though, had begun long before the ribbon-cutting ceremony. More than 1,200 people had already participated in workshops and services at various locales.

The center’s location — the anchor tenant of the Martin Luther King Sr. Community Resources Complex, next to Ebenezer Baptist Church — holds significance for James “Jay” Bailey, CEO of Operation HOPE in Atlanta.

“HOPE is more than humbled by the opportunity to continue the work that (Martin Luther King Jr.) started with the Poor People’s Campaign,” he said via e-mail. “I can think of no better place than on the hallowed ground of the King Center campus, in the shadow of Ebenezer Baptist Church and across the street from Dr. King’s final resting place, to carry out our mission of ‘Silver Rights.’”

Operation Hope was founded shortly after the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Its mission: To serve poor and underserved communities, provide better access to financial services, teach people how to manage money, make wise choices and tap into the free market system. The California-based nonprofit operates in South Africa, Haiti and dozens of U.S. cities that include Atlanta, according to its website,

The HOPE Financial Dignity Center at Ebenezer offers two personal finance programs. A credit and money management workshop teaches participants how to plan and structure a budget. It also addresses credit — how to leverage it. The second personal finance program, “700 Credit Score Communities,” is an ongoing workshop that deals with additional elements of personal finance, but in group settings.

“When you transform a neighborhood to become a 700-credit score community, title lenders, payday lenders and rent-to-own stores become credit unions and community banks,” said John Hope Bryant, founder and HOPE CEO. “And liquor stores are transformed into convenient stores and grocery markets.”

Read the complete article here in the Atlanta Journal Constitution.




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