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April 25 2011

HOPE Express Opens at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta

  Momentum continues to build in Southeastern Region around flagship HOPE Financial
Literacy Empowerment Center at the Martin Luther King, Sr. Community Resource Facility

Atlanta - April 25, 2011 - At a press conference co-hosted by historic Ebenezer Baptist Church and financial literacy empowerment nonprofit Operation HOPE (HOPE), the two organizations announced the opening of a HOPE Express office on location at Ebenezer, offering empowerment services to the local community immediately.

The event brought together leaders from the greater-Atlanta area as well as top-level representatives from the banking community, government and local clergy. Speakers at the event included HOPE Founder, Chairman and CEO John Hope Bryant; HOPE Global Spokesperson Ambassador Andrew Young; Ebenezer Baptist Church Senior Pastor Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock; daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr. and founder of Be A King Enterprises, LLC, Dr. Bernice A. King; Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed; Atlanta District 2 City Councilman Kwanza Hall; and Financial Services Roundtable President and CEO Steve Bartlett. Fulton County Board Commission Chairman John Eaves was on hand to present HOPE with a proclamation recognizing HOPE's work around financial literacy.

"As America's Freedom Church, the Ebenezer community recognizes financial literacy and access as the fourth symphony of the freedom movement," says Rev. Warnock. "John Hope Bryant's notion that the post civil rights movement must advance from civil rights to silver rights is an idea that no freedom loving person can deny. For this reason, we are pleased to join with Operation HOPE as they seek to provide financial assistance to individuals and families through the new HOPE Express Atlanta, which will be located on the grounds of Ebenezer Baptist Church."

The announcement comes as HOPE celebrates April as National Financial Literacy Month and as construction continues for the HOPE Financial Literacy Empowerment Center, Ebenezer to be housed at the Martin Luther King, Sr. Community Resource Complex in the heart of Atlanta.

"Working with the founding partners has truly been a gathering of like minds focused on accomplishing a common goal," said Bryant, who currently serves the Obama Administration on the U.S. President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability. Ambassador Young continued, "by bringing financial literacy into the forefront of our national discussion through this effort, we are finally starting to integrate all underserved people into the free market economy so that they, too, can realize the American Dream."

During Phase I of the project, HOPE solidified it’s presence in the Atlanta community and made its vision for the HOPE Center, Ebenezer (HCE) a reality with a shovel ceremony hosted on April 7, 2010 and has since received support from Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and The King Center President and Chief Executive Officer, Martin Luther King, III, amongst others. With the support of Ebenezer Baptist Church and The Financial Services Roundtable, along with founding partners SunTrust Bank, LPL Financial, State Farm Insurance, Wells Fargo, MasterCard, Coca Cola, the U.S. Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration (EDA) and honorary partners Atlanta-based Capitol City Bank and Citizens Trust Bank, HOPE has made a concentrated effort to serve the Atlanta community and the Southeastern region.

"This partnership between Ebenezer Baptist Church, Operation HOPE and the Roundtable will empower generations far into the future," said Steve Bartlett, president and CEO of the Financial Services Roundtable. "The HOPE Financial Literacy Empowerment Center will indeed be a beacon of HOPE, a city on the hill for millions of Americans."

Since the groundbreaking ceremony in 2010, HOPE hosted a Financial Forum in partnership with the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, opened the regional corporate office serving seven counties in the greater Atlanta-area, launched the Mortgage HOPE Crisis Hotline and the HOPE Consumer Credit Crisis Hotline in the region.

"Improving our communities in a tangible way is not always easy," noted Mayor Reed, "but providing people with the resources and the knowledge to take control of their lives will positively affect our city for decades to come."

Construction on the new HOPE Financial Literacy Empowerment Center has begun with H. J. Russel and Co. hired on as the construction management firm. In the next few months, the HCE project will be featured as a "best practice" at the HOPE Financial Literacy Forum to be hosted at the New York Stock Exchange in July and highlighted during the public unveiling of the Martin Luther King, Sr. Memorial on the Mall in Washington, D.C. this coming August.

"My father's work on the Poor People's Campaign was left unfinished," noted Dr. King. "He would say that working to provide underserved individuals with the tools to achieve economic parity is the next step in the civil rights movement and we are all here today to continue that work."

The flagship HOPE Financial Literacy Empowerment Center, Ebenezer is expected to be fully operational by early 2012. In addition, HOPE is planning a Global Financial Literacy Summit to be held in Atlanta, Georgia in conjunction with the center’s opening and in celebration of HOPE’s 20th Anniversary.

"The HOPE Express office is a great response by a national nonprofit and a pioneering church to bring financial empowerment services directly to the communities that need them," stated Atlanta District 2 City Councilman Kwanza Hall. "The closer and more convenient the services, the faster we can change the paradigm."

In the Atlanta area, HOPE has educated a total of 26,405 youth in financial literacy through 1,495 active HOPE Corps volunteers and during Phase I, HOPE counseled 732 adults and assisted 114 families receive approval for mortgage modifications totaling over $9.5 million.


About Ebenezer Baptist Church
Ebenezer Baptist Church has been solid as a rock for more than 121 years. Built on the solid rock of Jesus Christ, Ebenezer has been blessed with pastors who not only preach the Gospel, but take their ministries into the world and speak on behalf of the oppressed, disenfranchised and underprivileged. Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta was founded in 1886 during the Reconstruction Era in the South and was home to both Martin Luther King Jr. and Martin Luther King Sr. in their ministries.

About the Roundtable
The Financial Services Roundtable represents 100 of the largest integrated financial services companies providing banking, insurance, and investment products and services to the American consumer.  Member companies participate through the Chief Executive Officer and other senior executives nominated by the CEO.

Roundtable member companies provide fuel for America's economic engine, accounting directly for $74.7 trillion in managed assets, $1.1 trillion in revenue, and 2.3 million jobs.

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.