From Elaine Hungenberg, Manager Director of HOPE Office of Innovation, Research & Assessment

HOPE Programs Nurture Economic Energy of Youth

Operation HOPE (HOPE) partnered in 2011 with Gallup, Inc to measure the economic energy of youth across the United States via a national survey, The Gallup-HOPE Index (GHI). After three years of measuring youth economic energy, Gallup and HOPE discovered that youth have strong entrepreneurial aspirations. Almost half of all students in grades 5 through 12 want to start their own business, they want to be their own boss, and they believe that they will invent something that will change the world.  However, these youth are often not given the opportunities to nurture their ambitions. Few students (less than 5%) have a business internship and even fewer own their own business. In addition, only half of all students are in a school that teaches them about money, banking, and how to run a business.

What does this mean? There is a gap. There is a gap between what students aspire to do in life, and what traditional schooling teaches them. Students do what they’ve been taught how to do. Students become what they see. With no education on how to run a business, and no mentoring, what becomes of their strong entrepreneurial aspirations? It is likely that their aspirations will dwindle, and that they will not grow up to be small business owners unless something changes.

HOPE provides an answer. In a quest to help bridge the gap between the high entrepreneurial aspirations of youth and the few economic opportunities provided to them, HOPE provides education in dignity, finance, money, and business via its two youth empowerment programs Banking on Our Future (BOOF) and HOPE Business In A Box (HBIAB).  These intervention strategies:

  • Teach youth about finance – Banking on Our Future
  • Teach youth about entrepreneurship and Business
  • Have students participate in Pitch Competition Events
  • Provide students with Business Role Models
  • Provide students with Business Start-Up Grants

Through these two programs HOPE hypothesizes that students will not only be given ample opportunity to achieve their aspirations, but that their aspirations will increase and be sustained over time. In addition, HOPE postulates that it will increase the economic opportunities youth have by providing business mentoring, education, and resources for students to start their own business. 

HOPE Bridges the Gap. For the first time, The Gallup-HOPE Index measures have been brought into HOPE schools to evaluate whether HOPE programs do in fact increase economic energy and economic opportunities among its students.

The results are indisputable. In schools where HOPE actively delivers its programs (BOOF and HBIAB), students are significantly more likely to have entrepreneurial aspirations; they are more educated on money and how to run a business; they are more likely to have an internship and they are more likely to run their own business (see chart below).

Overall, HOPE believes that by giving students the opportunity to express and nurture their preexisting aspirations, students will be more likely to stay in school, graduate, succeed, and lead a dignified life.  

To learn more about HOPE’s evidence-based programs, to bring BOOF or HBIAB to your school, or to become involved as a volunteer or business mentor, please visit: www.operationhope.org.



2013 National GHI Results*

2013 HOPE GHI Results**

Item Results

% Agree

% Agree

I plan to start my own business.



I will invent something that changes the world.



The more education, the more money I will make.



My school teaches me about money and banking.



My school offers classes in how to start and run a business.




% Yes

% Yes

Do you have a bank or credit union account with money in it?



Are you currently interning with a local business?



Have either of your parents or guardians ever started a business?



Do you run your own business now?



*National Sample = 1,004 Representative Sample of 5th thru 12th Grade Students.

**HOPE Sample = 18 HOPE Schools
4th thru 12th Grade Students.

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