Freedom, self-determination, opportunity—these words capture the essence and meaning of one of our nation’s most important institutions, the Freedman’s Bank, established during the Reconstruction era. 

Nearly 160 years ago, the Freedman’s Bank was established by President Abraham Lincoln and championed by Frederick Douglass to educate and empower formerly enslaved people with a pathway to economic opportunity.  Lincoln and Douglass’ vision for the bank was not actualized in their lifetimes, but its spirit remains an integral part of the American Dream. 

In 2016, at the urging of Operation HOPE CEO John Hope Bryant, then-U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew publicly renamed the Treasury Annex Building the Freedman’s Bank Building in honor of the site where the Freedman’s Savings Bank once stood. In doing so, Bryant became the only U.S. citizen responsible for the renaming of a building on the White House campus.

Today, Operation HOPE exists to build on Lincoln and Douglass’ work, expanding hope, access to opportunity, and financial empowerment to all Americans. 

Financial dignity through financial literacy is the key that unlocks our nation’s potential and is a foundational building block to helping our communities and families thrive. Every day, we transform lives by increasing credit scores, spurring economic development through entrepreneurship, and helping families purchase houses they can call home.


Through the new 1865 Project, we are challenging individuals, corporations, and philanthropies to join our movement, spread our message, and increase our impact through giving. 

Thousands of individual contributors have made one-time and recurring donations to HOPE at the level that’s best for them, and we welcome those who are interested in doing the same. 

Others may be inspired to make larger gifts, like McDonald’s Corporation, Wing2Wing Foundation, Wells Fargo, PNC, US Bank, Truist, and Bank of America, who have each given a $1 million donation as “Founder’s Circle” members. 

Every gift of support to the 1865 Project, no matter the size, is an act of solidarity with HOPE’s mission, the legacy of the Freedman’s Bank, and a belief in the American Dream. 

Thank you for supporting Operation HOPE and remembering the Freedman’s Bank. 

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