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June 26 2014

Operation HOPE and the Rural School & Community Trust Launch Partnership to Empower Youth in Rural Communities

HOPE Business in a Box Academies to begin five-year strategy to promote poverty reduction, educational excellence and leadership development

NEW YORK – June 26, 2014 – Operation HOPE announced today a new partnership with the Rural School & Community Trust (Rural Trust) to promote HOPE Business in a Box Academies an initiative focused on youth entrepreneurship in classrooms over the next five years, starting in rural Northeastern NC and Louisiana.

The collaboration will boost Project 5117, the HOPE’s commitment to reduce poverty as a commitment to Action for Clinton Global Initiatives America.

“We are pleased to work in partnership with the Rural Trust to bring HOPE Business In A Box Academies into classrooms throughout rural America. This initiative is designed to inspire and empower youth to take control of their future and become the nation’s next generation of job creators and business builders through collaboration with the Rural Trust. Project 5117, is leveraging a national movement for change, which works in tandem to further efforts around our commitment to Clinton Global Initiatives America,” said Mary Ehrsam, Global Youth Empowerment Group President. 

The Rural Trust seeks to help rural schools and communities grow better together by involving young people in place-based learning linked to community and economic development. Through conducting research and advocating for appropriate educational policies and equitable funding for rural schools, it improves rural access to highly effective educators; and increases rural capacity to design, implement, and support appropriate innovation.

“We are thrilled to partner with Operation Hope to bring this opportunity for financial dignity to rural youth and communities around the country,” said Executive Director for The Rural School and Community Trust Doris Terry Williams, Ed.D.  “Connecting students’ standards-based academic work to the economic needs of their families and communities can have significant and sustainable short-term and long-term impact on poverty reduction. We look forward to extending this opportunity to as many rural communities as possible.”

The program teaches youth the core components of business, entrepreneurship, and public speaking. HOPE Business In A Box Academies is designed to connect aspiration and imagination to the educational experience, promoting educational excellence and leadership development.

The students will complete HOPE’s award-winning financial literacy course, Banking on Our Future, or another qualified financial capabilities program/curriculum and a course in entrepreneurship to earn a chance to compete in a “Pitch Contest.”  Working with business competition winners, the business mentors will impart their knowledge, skills, and support to the student. HOPE will provide up to 10 students who win the pitch event and present their final business plan with business startup grants up to $500. Students will be surveyed as a part of the Gallup-HOPE Index, and tracked as part of HOPE’s 100-year partnership with Gallup to measure the financial literacy and economic energy of America’s youth.

As supported by a national alliance with the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and with the ongoing support of the American Bankers Association, the FDIC, Financial Services Roundtable, US Small Business Administration and the Mortgage Bankers Association. Project 5117’s mission is to strengthen the economy by focusing on empowering those who earn less than $50,000 a year. Project 5117 is supported by a broad range of services, from homeownership counseling, to credit card debt management, a program that helps those with low credit scores raise their score to 700, and the comprehensive entrepreneurship-training course for youth, HOPE Business In A Box Academies.


The Rural School and Community Trust

The Rural School and Community Trust is a national nonprofit organization addressing the crucial relationship between good schools and thriving communities. Our mission is to help rural schools and communities grow better together. Working in some of the poorest, most challenging places, the Rural Trust involves young people in standards-based learning linked to their communities, improves the quality of teaching and school leadership, and advocates in a variety of ways for appropriate state and federal educational policies, including efforts to ensure equitable and adequate resources for rural schools. The organization’s key strategy, place-based learning, connects students’ standards-based academic work to their community’s economic and community develop needs with a key focus on youth-led poverty reduction, asset development, and community engagement

About Operation HOPE

Operation HOPE is a global leader in financial dignity, the venture capitalist of ideas that empower youth and adults with self-determination, and the private banker for the working poor, HOPE has served over 2 million individuals, including 745,000 youth, since 1992 in 273 cities in 14 markets in the U.S. and globally in South Africa and the Middle East.