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January 01 2010

Leading Financial Thinkers Gather for Operation HOPE Financial Literacy Forum to Discuss Global Economic Crisis Asking: Where Do We Go From Here?

Atlanta Federal Reserve Hosts HOPE Forum with US Department of Treasury, FDIC Chair, Ambassador Young, FSR CEO and NYSE CEO, to brainstorm national financial recovery plan
ATLANTA – April 7, 2010
– John Hope Bryant, founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE (HOPE), America's leading nonprofit and financial literacy organization, gathered some of the country’s leading minds for the HOPE Atlanta Financial Forum. The historical event, hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, sought to address the next steps in coping with the economic crisis.

Moderated by Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Dennis Lockhart and highlighted with a keynote speech  by FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair, the forum is HOPE’s first regional conference and was a part of several events planned to celebrate the organization’s new growth in the Atlanta area. Chairman Bair’s appearance at Atlanta’s Federal Reserve marks the first-time ever that Chair Bair had visited the facility to offer remarks.

“This has been a season of challenges for the banking industry and our economy. It has also been a season of challenges for consumers as they cope with protecting their money, hanging on to their homes, and trying to decide what to do next with their hard-earned cash,” said Bair. “Financial literacy is vital in meeting those challenges. As President Obama has said: “… education is no longer just a pathway to success. It’s a prerequisite to success.” That could not be more true for a financial education, made all the more urgent by the economic challenges we face today.”

After the keynote address, panelists joined Chairman Lockhart to discuss financial literacy in the light of the current global economic crisis to discuss: Where Do We Go From Here? The distinguished panel included Michelle Greene, deputy assistant secretary for financial education and financial access with the Department of the Treasury, civil rights icon Ambassador Andrew Young, Steve Bartlett, CEO of the Financial Services Roundtable, Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff for The King Center Isaac Newton Farris, CEO of the New York Stock Exchange Duncan Niederauer and Jim Clifton, president and CEO of Gallup, Inc.

Direct and commanding, Lockhart moderated the panel in a dialogue structured to address the role of financial literacy and moving away from our existing economic dilemma. Financial literacy was used as an impetus for social change, the emotional, cultural, and aspirational of teaching financial literacy, how government can facilitate the “teachable moment for giving students financial literacy and particularly the questions about how to measure performance and how federal agencies and nonprofit organizations should work together to accomplish these goals.

“There were reasons behind the financial crisis that we all can learn from,” said Operation HOPE Founder, Chairman and CEO John Hope Bryant. “With the opening of the HOPE Financial Literacy Empowerment Center at Ebenezer and engaging the economic community in Atlanta in positive discussions at the HOPE Financial Forum, gives us the opportunity to make a positive difference now and in the future. Financial literacy is a silver bullet that can help us make better decisions with the money that we make, and that affects every aspect of our lives.”

Jim Clifton joined Bryant to take the opportunity to announce HOPE’s most recent project with Gallup, partnering up on a newly developed five-year plan to develop a Gallup-HOPE Financial Literacy Index. This index will tangibly measure youth financial literacy and the importance that having aspirations can have in being a success.

The mood of the gathering was upbeat as many of the participants had participated in a shovel ceremony earlier that day at Ebenezer Church to break ground on the new Martin Luther King, Sr. Resource Facility and future home to the Operation HOPE Financial Literacy Empowerment Center. HOPE also plans to open a super-regional business office in downtown Atlanta by the end of the second quarter.

The success of the event sets the stage for the organization to host other regional conferences in other parts of the country where it has a presence.