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February 09 2012

Operation HOPE Announces the Launch of HOPE Office of Small Business and Entrepreneurship

Features HOPE Business-In-A-Box and 700 Credit Score Community Initiative

Founders vision focused on stimulating youth entrepreneurship and building better credit scores to create communities of opportunity


LOS ANGELES February 6, 2012 – Operation HOPE (HOPE), First Senior Vice President and Global Chief of Financial Literacy, Mary Hagerty Ehrsam participated in the White House’s Urban Economic Forum at Barnard College on February 3rd, sharing the nonprofit’s creation of the new HOPE Office of Small Business and Entrepreneurship (HOSBE), a portfolio focused on increasing youth economic energy, partly through financial dignity training, business role modeling, business internships and intervention strategies, all leading to youth increases in small business and entrepreneurship, as well as for adults, nurturing 700 credit score communities of opportunity.

The creation of the office, officially announced today by Executive Vice President Chief of Adult Empowerment Initiatives and the HOPE Financial Dignity Center Network, Lance W. Triggs, coincides with HOPE Founder, Chairman and CEO John Hope Bryant’s 46th birthday, and marks this year’s 20th anniversary for the “silver rights” empowerment organization.

“HOPE is unveiling the HOPE Office of Small Business and Entrepreneurship, an initiative targeting underserved communities to create a new culture of self-empowerment and entrepreneurial spirit at the community level,” Triggs shared. “The HOSBE seeks to create more stakeholders through the 700 Credit Score Community Initiative.”

“One of the youth-focused initiatives of HOSBE is HOPE Business-In-A-Box, said Ehrsam.  “HOPE Business-In-A-Boxwill channel the economic energy of youth through programs tailored to bring out their aspirational business potential.  The initiative will not only help empower youth, but through the HOPE Office of Innovation, Research and Assessmentand the Gallup-HOPE Index Cities Initiative, we plan to measure and trend their success.”

Both Triggs and Ehrsam are an integral part of HOPE’s rich 20-year history. Ehrsam has been a driving force for HOPE’s award-winning Banking on Our Future program for the last fourteen years.  Triggs was instrumental during the launch of the first HOPE Center in 1994, now known as HOPE Financial Dignity Centers, which has since expanded to ten cities across the nation.

While entrepreneurship is the thread that runs through the HOSBE, it targets youth and adults with programs and initiatives that are designed to meet their needs at their appropriate stage of development.

For youth, the program will be available to students that complete the A Course In Dignity curriculum and the five Banking on Our Future program modules. HOPE’s goal represents an opportunity for youth in low wealth communities to receive training on how to start, build, grow and maintain businesses.

For adults, HOPE offers a full entrepreneurial training course, which includes providing clients with assistance in resolving credit issues.  Increased credit scores enable small business dreamers and owners easier access to financing when necessary, and underserved communities to become emerging markets.

The initial programs will focus on following models:


Adult small business/entrepreneurship program:

700 Credit Score Community Initiative

  • A program in which HOPE Center clients will receive consulting, training and the necessary tools and credit data feedback support to help them build better credit scores; and ultimately empower them to become stakeholders through home or business ownership.

Youth entrepreneurship (HOPE Business In A Box) program(s):

100 Urban Entrepreneurs Mini-Pitch events

  • Through a partnership between 100 Urban Entrepreneurs and HOPE, multiple Mini-Small Business and Entrepreneurship Pitch Events will be held at HOPE partner schools, where students can compete for a cash micro-business grant to fund their business ideas.

United Against Malaria Bracelets

  • HOPE and United Against Malaria (UAM) will make available a U.S. version of the UAM bracelet that will be assembled, marketed and sold in the U.S. by youth ages 10 – 18.

Headquartered in Los Angeles, Operation HOPE promotes financial dignity through financial literacy and education tools to underserved communities in more than 273 cities worldwide. Through its four core portfolios, the organization has provided youth and adult financial literacy, economic preparedness, digital empowerment, promoted home ownership, and assisted with foreclosure prevention to more than 2 million individuals, families, and small business owners. In May 2012, HOPE will celebrate 20 years of making the free market system work for low-income communities in a Silver Rights Movement meant to help make free enterprise and capitalism work for the poor and undeserved.

Participation in the White House’s series of Urban Forums is part of HOPE’s efforts to support the Obama Administration’s work to boost job creation in America, and further help the Administration’s commitment to supporting policies that create private-sector jobs and stimulate the next generation of entrepreneurs.