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January 27 2014

HOPE Stakeholder Report : Youth Economic Empowerment

By David Bell, Managing Director HOPE Corps & Talent


On 13 November 2013 Operation HOPE (HOPE) met with our stakeholders at the HOPE Financial Dignity Center at Ebenezer in Atlanta. In order to continue to strengthen our programs we asked for feedback from our stakeholders. Our stakeholders include funding partners, volunteer partners, educators, individual volunteers, clients, students and community members.  The HOPE Stakeholder Meeting gave us the opportunity to convene this impressive group of individuals for the sole purpose of strengthening our programs so more individuals can gain financial dignity.

Below you will find the main points/issues discussed in the Youth Economic Empowerment breakout session.  We will post the discussions from the other breakout sessions in the coming weeks. HOPE will use this information to continue to strengthen our Youth Empowerment programs.

Session Chair:

Celie Niehaus

Managing Vice President, Corporate Compliance, Capital One

Chair, Banking on Our Future Advisory Board

  • Ms. Niehaus shared an experience at Francis Jr. High in which a student shared that she didn’t think that banks were available to the general public.  Ms. Niehaus challenged her to go to a local bank branch to collect a brochure explaining bank offerings.  The student visited a local bank branch, took her mom with her and walked away with a completely different understanding of banks.  This is what compelled Ms. Niehaus to continue working with HOPE’s Banking on Our Future (BOOF) program because she saw first-hand that her personal contribution towards expanding financial education made a difference.


  • Students are intrigued when volunteers share examples of their own personal financial struggles/scenarios.


  •  It was stated that non-profits need to work together to build valuable partnerships to encourage  youth internships/externships/fellowships. 


  • Some bankers are nervous/afraid about community outreach. Many feel that their own financial situation is not strong and this disqualifies them from being a good candidate to teach financial education. 


  • It is a good idea to have new volunteers observe an actual program prior to volunteering themselves


  • Team teaching a program can help many volunteers especially if they are new to the program.


  • Use seasoned volunteers as mentors for new volunteers.


  • The use of storytelling is essential to financial education, especially for the younger students.


  • India Alston, NW Regional Board member, shared that she was actually a BOOF student and now she serves on the board.  She encouraged volunteers to address the fears that students may have about money and banks.


  • More real-life examples of consistent investing and its impact over time, time value of money, is helpful to teach.


  • HOPE should place volunteers with the age range in which they feel most comfortable.


  • Use various props and hands-on activities to teach financial education.


  • Explain the difference between debit and credit cards.


  • BOOF in a Day (where the program is taught in one day) is too much material to cover in one day – extend programming.


  • Sometimes it may just be one kid that you impact – teach to that child.


  • Relevancy when teaching is very important; utilize technology with an emphasis on social media.


  • Build partnerships with parents/liaisons at schools, Future Business Leaders of America, Student Government Association, Boys & Girls Scouts etc.


  • Extending and expanding current HOPE Youth Empowerment programming.


Please keep these great suggestions coming.  To provide your ideas on ways to improve HOPE programs click on the following link and fill out the short survey.  Thank you.