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November 28 2012

U.S. President's Council Subcommittee Receives Approval on Recommendations

John Hope Bryant reports subcommittee efforts to help Americans prepare and recover from disasters, student loan education

Washington, DC – November 28, 2012 – The President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability (Council) today approved two recommendations presented by the Council's Subcommittee on the Underserved and Community Empowerment. Approved recommendations included understanding the value of financial and economic emergency disaster preparedness, response and recovery, as presented by John Hope Bryant, Operation HOPE Founder, Chairman and CEO, and increasing college affordability, as presented by Samuel T. Jackson, Founder, Chairman and CEO, Economic Empowerment Initiative. The recommendations, which passed unanimously and are stated below, will go on to the President Obama for consideration that they be incorporated into the larger financial capability platform:

  1. That the President of the United States and the Secretary of the Treasury integrate the field of emergency financial and economic disaster preparedness response and recovery into the broader financial capability efforts of the federal government, and invite the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) to be a part of the Financial Literacy and Education Commission (FLEC)
  2. That the President direct the appropriate federal agencies led by the Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid (FSA) Office, to establish an awareness campaign, which may be entitled, the Know Before You Apply (KBYA),  that leads the American people to studentaid.gov as the one-stop resource for students and families to increase college affordability and reduce student loan debt.

The work of the committee was applauded during meeting by senior U.S. Treasury officials. “The Council’s focus is important to every one of us, to every individual and family, and to our nation.  Over the past two years, the Council has developed recommendations in a number of areas concerning the financial well-being of individuals and the overall economic health of the nation.  The Council’s recommendations are helpful to Treasury and to agencies across the government, as we continue to make progress after the worst recession since the Great Depression,” shared Treasury Under Secretary for Domestic Finance Mary Miller.

Under Secretary Miller continued, “first, let me mention your recommendations concerning financial capability education in our schools.  I applaud the Council for recognizing the potential effect that improved financial decision-making by young people can have for both households and the nation for years to come.  To that end, the Council has been critically focused on improving financial education in America’s schools.  I understand that the Council will consider making today a recommendation regarding the connection between financial capability and disaster preparedness, and that the Subcommittee on Community Empowerment was formulating this recommendation even before Hurricane Sandy.  I thank you for your foresight on this topic, as we were reminded once again how important planning ahead can be for financial well-being.  Families and communities who are prepared financially—for example, by maintaining emergency savings and keeping track of their records—are in a better position to recover after tragedy. In closing, I would like to once again applaud the Council members for their leadership in developing these recommendations.”

Chaired by John W. Rogers (Chair), Jr., Chairman, CEO, and Chief Investment Officer, Ariel Investments and vice chair Amy Rosen, president and CEO of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, the meeting was held at the Department of Treasury, and is the eighth and final meeting for the Council for 2012.  Over the last year the subcommittee and full Council have made strides towards helping Americans better understand and manage their finances.

During the meeting, Bryant brought attention to the value of economic emergency preparedness and reported out on the subcommittee’s work over the last year. In addition to speaker highlights the meeting was held to: (1) Receive reports from the Council's subcommittees (Underserved and Community Empowerment, Research and Evaluation, Partnerships, and Youth) on their progress; (2) discuss recommendations made by the subcommittees and (3) receive a status report on the implementation of the previous recommendations of the Council.

The role of the Council is to advise President Barack Obama, Treasury Secretary Geithner and the Obama Administration, on means to promote and enhance individuals' and families' financial capability. The Council held its first meeting on November 30, 2010. At that meeting, the Council Chair recommended the establishment of five subcommittees to focus on the following strategic areas: Financial Access (later renamed Underserved and Community Empowerment), Research and Evaluation, Partnerships, and Youth.

A natural entrepreneur, Bryant began his life as a businessman at the age of 10 with a $40 investment by his mother in his first business idea. Today responsible for more than $1.5 billion of private capital supporting low-wealth home ownership, small businesses, entrepreneurship and community development investments through Operation HOPE, a financial dignity nonprofit established in 1992.

It serves more than 300 under-served communities across the U.S., as well as investments in financial literacy programs and financial dignity education from South Africa to Morocco, to Saudi Arabia. Bryant previously served as Vice-Chairman of the President's Advisory Council on Financial Literacy, and Chairman of the Council Committee on the Underserved, during a prior Administration.

Operation HOPE promotes financial dignity through financial literacy and education tools to underserved communities.  Through its four core portfolios, the organization has provided youth and adult financial literacy, economic preparedness, digital empowerment, promoted home ownership, and assisted with foreclosure prevention to more than 2 million individuals, families, and small business owners. HOPE’s mission is to assist underserved communities through financial literacy programs that increase net worth and promotes financial dignity. Operation HOPE is the global leader in financial dignity, the private banker to the working poor, the underserved and increasingly the struggling middle class, and is the architect of a movement towards 'silver rights;' or making free enterprise relevant to, and work for the poor.