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July 29 2011

FIVE MILLION KIDS Welcomes Essence Magazine Editor-in-Chief Emeritus Susan Taylor and NFL Star Jonathan Vilma as 5MK Celebrity Ambassadors

Operation HOPE’s youth initiative to stem dropout rates gets a boost from national celebrities
 


Los Angeles – July 29, 2011 – Operation HOPE Founder, Chairman and CEO John Hope Bryant along with FIVE MILLION KIDS (5MK) Initiative Co-Chairs Quincy Jones and Ambassador Andrew Young recently welcomed Essence Magazine Editor-in-Chief Emeritus and Founder of National CARESCARES Mentoring Movement Susan L. Taylor and New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma as 5MK Celebrity Ambassadors. In these roles, Taylor and Vilma will lend their celebrity and philanthropic voice to promote the importance of education for inner-city youth.
 
“We are pleased to welcome Susan L. Taylor and Jonathan Vilma to our 5MK Initiative. As Celebrity Ambassadors, we know their presence will give the movement the support it needs. Their participation will help us bring financial literacy and positive role models to youth all across the country,” said Bryant.
 
Both Taylor and Vilma will participate in the 5MK Make Smart Cool Tour—a nationwide tour targeting schools across the nation to promote the importance of staying in school.  With her, Taylor brings National CARES, a nonprofit dedicated to connecting mentors with youth, as a national partner for the tour. The tour will stop in all HOPE’s major markets across the country and will feature a mixture of celebrities, grassroots and political leaders, and musicians. Confirmed participants include actor Tyrese Gibson, comedian Chris Tucker, NFL player Chris Draft and actor Romany Malco, among others.

A leader on the field and in the locker room, Jonathan Vilma is also a proven humanitarian.  In support of relief efforts for the Haiti Earthquake, Vilma, whose parents are both natives of the nation, participated in a PSA soliciting fan donations that aired nationally prior to the NFL’s conference championship games. He also established a foundation in 2010 that is focused on building a charter school in Haiti. Additionally, Vilma hosts a financial conference for NFL players called “Jonathan Vilma’s Financial 51” to help players manage their money and was named a Board Member of the National Football Foundation's “Play It Smart” program, an educational program designed to use football as a vehicle to foster the academic, personal and career development of at-risk student-athletes. “I believe all kids deserve a chance,” says Vilma, If there’s ever an opportunity to make a difference in a kid’s life, I want to be there to support.”
 
Susan L. Taylor is synonymous with Essence magazine, the brand she built—as its fashion and beauty editor, as editor-in-chief and editorial director. For 27 years she authored of one of the magazine’s most popular columns, In the Spirit. She was the first and only African American Woman to be recognized by the Magazine Publishers of America with the Henry Johnson Fisher Award—the industry's highest honor—and the first to be inducted into the American Society of Magazine Editors Hall of Fame. She is the recipient of the NAACP President's Award for visionary leadership and has honorary degrees from more than a dozen colleges and universities.
 
She is an avid supporter of a host of organizations dedicated to moving the Black community forward, but her passion and focus today is the National CARES Mentoring Movement, a call to action, which she founded in 2006 as Essence CARES. The goals of National CARES are to increase high school graduation rates among African American students, end the violence in Black communities and the over-incarceration of Black youth.  “Our children are the mothers and fathers of our tomorrows, and their future is in our hands, “says Taylor.

5MK is Operation HOPE’s national initiative targeting youth, through financial literacy empowerment aims to reach five million kids and adults. 5MK turns up the volume on financial literacy in America by bringing together organizations across the country dedicated to advancing the cause. With the Make Smart Cool Tour 5MK will demonstrate the power that financial literacy has in increasing academic engagement and aspiration.

About Operation HOPE
Founded in 1992, social empowerment nonprofit Operation HOPE's mission is to expand economic opportunity in under-resourced communities through financial literacy education. HOPE promotes "silver rights" - making free enterprise and capitalism relevant and effective for the underserved. Raising more than $500 million and directing and restructuring nearly $500 million more in mortgages and economic support from the private sector, for a total of approximately $1 billion dollars in economic activity, HOPE seeks dignity and empowerment for all. Follow Operation HOPE at www.operationhope.org, www.twitter.com/operationhope, and www.facebook.com/operationhope.