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January 01 2009

Operation HOPE Launches FIVE MILLION KIDS (5MK)

Icons Quincy Jones and Ambassador Andrew Young, joined by superstar Tyrese, QD3 and others

Celebrities and community leaders kick off financial literacy education initiative to impact the lives of
5 million kids over 5-years


Goal is to keep kids from dropping out of school, and to make smart cool

photoLOS ANGELES - (October 5, 2009) — Financial literacy and empowerment nonprofit, Operation HOPE (HOPE) launched a national campaign to reduce the high school drop-out epidemic in America, and to create a holistic way of thinking about education, or quoting Operation HOPE founder John Hope Bryant, “to make smart sexy again.” FIVE MILLION KIDS (5MK) National Co-chairs, music icon Quincy Jones and Ambassador Andrew Young, 5MK Digital Chair Quincy D. Jones III (QD3), 5MK Celebrity Ambassadors actor/singer/model Tyrese Gibson, actor/director Robert Davi, social commentator Jeff Johnson of the Jeff Johnson Chronicles (click here to view an event clip), popular local on-air radio personality Devi-Dev, along with Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Ramon Cortines, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell, members of the LAUSD school bo ard including Ms. Marguerite Lamotte, State of California Community College Chancellor Jack Scott, Los Angeles Deputy Mayor for Education, Youth and Families Miriam Scott Long, America’s Promise Alliance Vice President Elaine Leibsohn, and other education and community leaders, as well as decision makers in the private-sector world joined HOPE Founder, Chairman and CEO John Hope Bryant, for a kick-off event held at Bret Harte Preparatory Middle School on September 29, bringing attention to the value of learning.  Los Angeles County Board of Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas was the senior elected official in attendance at the top of the program, where he spoke and brought greetings from the County of Los Angeles, and provided a Resolution to Operation HOPE for 5MK from the County Board of Supervisors.  Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, accompanied by key heads of departments for the County, expressed keen interest in seeing the work of 5MK expanded and rooted.

"Statistics show that one child in America is dropping out of school every 26 seconds. HOPE believes the drop out epidemic is ultimately a huge drag on the American economy. It is critically important that we change the cultural tide and Make Smart Cool and Sexy again," said Bryant. "At the core of 5MK is a national campaign to re-brand education in the minds and hearts of young people. The 5MK initiative will teach five million kids, their parents and teachers how to succeed, prosper, do well, and even to get rich legally, if that is their goal, through financial literacy, teaching the language of money, free enterprise, capitalism, ownership and entrepreneurship." 

The morning began with some 1,200 students and over 200 leaders and luminaries filing into the school auditorium, with the students wearing HOPE’s “Cool to Stay in School” 5MK t-shirts and wristbands, anxious to learn how they could benefit from the program. The day's activities included four unique activities with celebrities, government, private-sector and community leaders, and education officials to engage in and discuss the program. During the rally, students and invited guests were treated to an address by Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas, Vice Admiral and former LAUSD school superintendent David Brewer, and Rev. Dr. Cecil "Chip" Murray.  The day was emceed by K-DAY Radio Personality Devi Dev, and hosted by event sponsors Pacific Western Bank and Comerica Bank, the kick off received rousing cheers from the audience.   

During the lunch hour, a Fireside Chat was hosted by co-chair and HOPE Global Spokesman Ambassador Andrew Young.  Panelists included LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines, California Superintendent of Instruction Jack O'Connell, and America's Promise executive Elaine Leibsohn who dialogued about education and the impact that high school drop outs have on the economy.    

Guests were invited to observe five focal classroom sessions. Featured were: iHOPE Digital Empowerment (HOPE’s unique iPhone-based programming that we certifies young people as Apple Worldwide technicians); A Course in Dignity; bankingonourfuture.org; AIMP learning; and, our award-winning youth financial literacy program Banking on Our Future session. To close out the day's activities, entertainment legend Quincy Jones, Robert Davi, QD3, and Tyrese took to the state stage as John Bryant debuted the Banking on Our Future, Celebrity Edition, with the Banking on Our Future, Quincy Jones Edition as the first of many slated for productio n.

Additionally, QD3 talked to the students about digital empowerment and profit through iHOPE. Designed by Tech2000, the program prepares kids to become certified Apple programmers with the ability to sell their applications through Apple's web store. iHOPE is a critical part of 5MK goal to inspire entrepreneurship. Closing out the event was hip-hop sensation Boog & Fizz.   

Through 5MK, the organization's five year plan is to:

--reach, teach and empower 5 million youth in financial literacy empowerment and “the language of money.”

--launch a 5% Movement, working to get the percentage of role models in our urban communities up to 5% or higher by placing a minimum of 25,000 HOPE Corps volunteers in the classroom.

--partner with community based organizations and financial institutions to open HOPE Starter Savings Accounts for youth.

--secure $50 million in Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) for parents, teachers and adults.

--open 50,000 new bank accounts for the unbanked and under-banked using the proceeds of their EITC benefits

--produce 5,000 iHOPE Program graduates

--recruit 5,000 grassroot leaders

--secure $100 million in remnant, in-kind media space from media companies to rebrand education as “smart, sexy and cool.”

--secure 50 celebrities to lend their likeness, story and image for the Banking on Our Future, Celebrity Edition.

Wells Fargo Bank was the signature sponsor for the afternoon Fireside Chat. Other program supporters included Bank Leumi, Tech 2000, America's Promise Alliance, National Education Association, National Alliance of Black School Educators, LAUSD, Toyota, Premiere Radio Networks, the Associated Independent Music Producers and Brianne Pins of The Pins Group Communications.  BBDO, New York has signed on as the national pro-bono creative agency of 5MK, and helped to write, produce and design the celebrity-inspired public service announcements (to be released soon) and Banking on Our Future, Celebrity Edition. 

The launch of 5MK is just the beginning; HOPE continues to work with LAUSD leadership to fulfill their pledge to Bret Harte Middle School and other partners to attack this issue and, ultimately, to have a positive effect on the high school dropout rate nationwide. In the next five years the program will launch nationwide and be implemented in cities throughout the U.S. To keep up to date on the progress of 5MK, or to make a 5MK Pledge yourself, visit us again at www.5MK.org.

About FIVE MILLION KIDS (5MK)
FIVE MILLION KIDS (5MK) is Operation HOPE’s national “silver rights” initiative to break the cycle of the high school dropout epidemic by rebranding education in a “Making Smart Cool and Sexy” campaign. The project centers on giving students feasible options for financial independence through entrepreneurship training; providing accessible role models as a catalyst to making school relevant to students; and offering HOPE’s financial literacy portfolios as a commitment to financial empowerment for parents and educators. In 5 years 5MK expects to reach, teach and touch 5 million students, their parents and teachers about how to get rich, legally through financial literacy; the language of money, free enterprise capitalism, and the dignity of ownership. Visit www.5MK.org for more information.