A Los Angeles-based financial literacy program will launch this fall at a Memphis SunTrust Bank branch, executives with both organizations have announced.

SunTrust is partnering with Operation HOPE to provide free financial counseling as part of an upcoming pilot program in Memphis. The program, launched in 1992 in South Central Los Angeles after the Rodney King riots, targets underserved communities to help residents boost their credit scores and become better informed about financial security.

The Memphis center will open later this year in a local SunTrust bank and although the location has not been finalized, the Brookhaven branch at 3338 Elvis Presley Boulevard is considered to be the front-runner.

“There is a good mix of income in that area and we want to do even more to serve the residents by becoming a greater part of the fabric of the community,” said Johnny Moore Jr., chief executive officer of SunTrust Bank, Memphis. “It’s about more than loans and deposits, this is a way to support financial well-being and help people realize their financial goals.”

As part of the initiative, the HOPE center will offer customers free advice on how to manage money, build better credit scores and develop business plans. The program will also provide training and counseling to entrepreneurs and small business owners to help them position their companies for growth.

“This is an aspirational model for a traditionally underserved population that leads from civil rights to silver rights,” said Operation HOPE founder and CEO John Hope Bryant. “Financial literacy leads to economic freedom and we want to eliminate poverty by helping people make better financial choices.”

In addition to credit counseling, the program will offer small business owners assistance in gaining access to capital and provide free training for young people and adults on how to develop household budgets and manage money. One goal is to transform working adults from being reliant on check-cashing services into checking and savings account clients.

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