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October 12 2016

Operation HOPE, Level One Bank, Wayne State University, and TechTown Partner to Open New HOPE Inside Office in Detroit

DETROIT – October 12, 2016 – Global financial dignity and economic empowerment nonprofit, Operation HOPE, Inc., has partnered with Level One Bank, Wayne State University, and business innovation hub, TechTown Detroit, to open a new HOPE Inside office in Detroit. The HOPE Inside office will provide credit and money management coaching, free to clients, to help them take control of their money and create a more secure financial future. Leaders of the cross-sector partnership gathered today to celebrate the opening of the office, and the significant impact the services provided will have on Detroit’s underserved residents and the financial revival of the city as a whole.

“We are grateful to Level One Bank, TechTown, and Wayne State University, for their support as strategic partners to open a new installation of HOPE Inside,” said Operation HOPE Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer, John Hope Bryant. “Without a doubt, Detroit is a city on the rise, and we look forward to impacting this community by equipping people with the financial tools and training required to realize their aspirations and ensure their financial wellbeing.”

Level One Bank is the financial sponsor of the new HOPE Inside location. TechTown has provided the functional office space, and additional resources, while Wayne State University has committed to provide event and resource space, and access to clients and institutional programming.

“Financial wellness plays an important role in the revitalization of the City of Detroit and Level One Bank is proud to help make these financial services accessible to the community,” said Patrick J. Fehring, President and CEO of Level One Bank. “We are thankful for the leadership of Operation HOPE and the partnership of TechTown and Wayne State University as we work together towards the common mission of financial literacy and empowerment for the residents of Detroit.”

HOPE Inside TechTown will be staffed by an Operation HOPE Financial Wellbeing Coach. Programming will initially center on credit and money management coaching, but will eventually, expand to entrepreneurship training. Every HOPE Inside holds consumer credit counseling certification, CFPB, FDIC, U.S. SBA, HUD, EITC, and FEMA applications and partnerships. Through the HOPE 700 Credit Score Communities initiative, the focus on raising client credit scores to 700 is at the foundation of all HOPE Inside programming.

“Economic opportunity for small businesses and residents of all backgrounds is critical to Detroit’s continued resurgence,” said Ned Staebler, president and CEO of TechTown and vice president for economic development at Wayne State. “TechTown and Wayne State are excited to launch this partnership, which will benefit our entrepreneurs, our students, our staff and our community.”

The HOPE Inside model has allowed private financial institutions to scale, and sustainably package and deliver, financial literacy and empowerment programming, free to the client. HOPE Inside, which provides  clients with the fundamentals to build their own businesses, raise their credit scores, buy homes, or simply make better decisions with the money they have, had its genesis in bank branches, but widespread market adoption continues to bring sponsored offices to government facilities, grocery stores, hospitals, college campuses, and other community locations, including, Whole Foods, Hyatt Hotels, Detroit Medical Center, and Atlanta Public Safety Headquarters, so the programs can be accessed by everyone.

Today, there are 50 existing HOPE Inside locations across the nation, and commitments for more than 250 new offices within the next 18 months. With strategic banking partners, including, SunTrust Banks, Bank of the West, Fifth Third Bank, Mutual of Omaha, Wells Fargo, BB&T, First Tennessee Bank, Fulton Bank, CIT, MetaBank, First National Bank, Banco Popular, PNC, Level One Bank, Regions Bank, and Cathay Bank, Operation HOPE is delivering financial empowerment to communities that need it most.

“Our counseling services help bridge the gap between being unqualified and being bankable, so in many ways the HOPE Inside model operates as the ‘private banker to the less than affluent’—the working poor, the working class and the struggling middle class,” Bryant said. “We work to get bankers out of the ‘no’ business, and into the ‘yes’ business, by helping to rehabilitate the credit, financial, and overall wellbeing profile of the HOPE client, and the future bank borrower.

HOPE Inside TechTown is part of Operation HOPE’s recently launched Detroit Uplift 2020 initiative, developed to focus and escalate the deployment of the organization’s core financial literacy and empowerment programs throughout the city to strengthen low- and middle-income families and help build an economy that works for everyone.  In collaboration with the City of Detroit, the Mayor’s Office, Skillman Foundation, and other strategic partners, Detroit Uplift 2020 will bring credit and money management counseling, small business development coaching, and youth financial literacy and entrepreneurism, within local communities, particularly Brightmoor, Chadsey Condon, Cody Rouge, Northend Central Woodward, Osborn, and Southwest Detroit.

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About Operation HOPE

Since 1992, Operation HOPE has been moving America from civil rights to "silver rights" with the mission of making free enterprise and capitalism work for the underserved. Through its core programs, the nonprofit has provided financial dignity and economic empowerment to over 2.6 million individuals worldwide, and $2 billion in economic activity for the disenfranchised—turning check cashing customers into banking customers, renters into homeowners, small business dreamers into small business owners and minimum wage workers into living wage consumers.  Project 5117 is HOPE’s multi-year four-pronged approach to combating economic inequality that aims to improve financial literacy, increase business role models and business internships for youth, and stabilize the American dream by boosting credit scores. Operation HOPE recently received its second consecutive 4-star charity rating for fiscal management and commitment to transparency and accountability by the prestigious non-profit evaluator, Charity Navigator—further establishing it as a best-in-class organization. For more information: www.OperationHOPE.org Follow Operation HOPE on Twitter @operationhope

About Level One Bank

Level One Bank is a full-service, 5-Star BauerFinancial rated commercial and consumer bank headquartered locally in Farmington Hills, Michigan with assets of approximately $1.0 billion.  It currently operates ten full-service banking centers located throughout the Metro Detroit region.  Level One Bank’s success has been recognized both locally and nationally as the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) ‘Community Lender of the Year’ and ‘Export Finance Lender of the Year’, one of SNL Financial’s ‘Top 100 Performing Community Banks’, Inc. Magazine’s list of 5,000 ‘Fastest Growing Private Companies in America’, and one of Metro Detroit’s ‘101 Best & Brightest Companies to Work For’.   Level One’s Commercial Division provides a complete menu of products including lines of credit, term loans, leases, commercial mortgages, SBA loans, Export-Import Financing and a full suite of Treasury Management services.  The Consumer Division offers personal savings and checking accounts and a complete array of consumer loan products including residential mortgages, home equity, auto, and credit card services.  Level One Bank offers a variety of online banking services and a robust mobile banking application for individuals and businesses.  Level One Bank offers the sophistication of a big bank, the heart of a community bank, and the spirit of an entrepreneur. For more information, please visit www.levelonebank.com.

About TechTown

TechTown is Detroit’s most established business accelerator and incubator, offering a full suite of entrepreneurial services for both tech and neighborhood enterprises. TechTown helps startup and established businesses develop, launch and grow, while strengthening and diversifying the local economy. For more information, visit techtowndetroit.org.

About Wayne State University

Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering more than 380 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to more than 27,000 students.