What do you say when words do not suffice. I felt like I had received the Oprah Winfrey Award all over again this past week when I was handed the final youth financial literacy curriculum for young people, age 15-25 in the United Arab Emirates, only to see my own life story highlighted! It is the first empowering message that youth from the Gulf region would receive. Youth all over the Gulf Region will now be connected to me, and me to them (and their futures). Deeply honored, and deeply humbled.

The new Esref Sah (Spend Wisely) Personal Finance curriculum is a UAE wide (seven Emirates in total)partnership between the Emirates Foundation and Operation HOPE, that seeks to boost youth financial literacy skills and confidence, as well as encouragement personal dignity through role modeling. The curriculum is practical, aspirational and meets educational standards, and is designed to reach all youth within the UAE, age 15-25.

Thanks to the launch this week of the new 100 Youth Clubs, the young professionals in the region will soon be volunteering to teach and train other young Emiratis in the basics of financial literacy empowerment and dignity. From there the program will have a powerful ripple effect, with 100 trainers turning into 1,000 (say 100 trainers for every major region or city), and ultimately impacting the lives of hundreds of thousands in the Gulf Region.

The program was developed jointly by the Emirates Foundation and Operation HOPE over the past year. A special commendation on my side to Mrs. Mary Hagerty-Ehrsam, HOPE youth division head, and Ms. Shannon Campbell, global project lead, who both worked as lead on this important HOPE initiative and traveled with me to the region this past week.

The Emirates Foundation was launched in April, 2005, as an initiative from His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy a Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. The foundation is chaired by HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs.

In 2012, Emirates Foundation was re-launched under the name ‘Emirates Foundation for Youth Developmemt,’ as an integrated national initiative that seeks to invest in UAE youth. EF’s strategy uses the model of venture philanthropy to develop nationwide programs that aim to impact the lives of UAE youth positively and permanently, in a manner that is measurable and sustainable.

The Foundation works in three key areas: social inclusion — looking at some of the challenges facing young people; community engagement — encouraging youth to participate in a voluntary capacity in the civil society; and leadership and empowerment — helping to build young people’s soft skills and prepare them for the work force.

The Foundation seeks to identify and understand the challenges facing UAE youth while identifying opportunities for growth and development for young people themselves. The Foundation develops sustainable, enterprise-based solutions to social issues that help motivate and guide young Emiratis through programs that develop their capabilities, confidence and leadership skills.

The Emirates Foundation is a best in class organization and we are pleased to be partnering with them in the Gulf a Region.

Furthermore, I am personally pleased to be working closely with my friend and colleague Clare Woodcraft, CEO and chief visionary of the Foundation. Ms. Woodcraft will also soon join the HOPE Global Board of Advisors, as we strengthen our mutual bonds together.

One person CAN make a difference. Decide to be that one person, in your part of the world.

Okay, let’s go…

John Hope Bryant


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