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August 27 2015

Operation HOPE Assisted Hurricane Katrina Survivors Collect Over $6.5 million in Earned Income Tax Credit, Spurring Recovery in the Gulf States

Project Restore HOPE formed in 2005 to become organization’s umbrella for Katrina recovery

Los Angeles – August 27, 2015 – Today, Operation HOPE looks back on Hurricane Katrina, highlighting some of the key partnerships and noting the results around the work done to rebuild and re-energize the affected areas and help survivor collect more than $6.5 million dollars of their hard-earned income through the initiative, Project Restore HOPE.

Ten years ago, the storm left a trail of destruction like few had ever seen; answering the call was HOPE’s financial recovery and preparedness division, HOPE Coalition America (HCA). To harness the energy along multiple platforms, Project Restore HOPE was created to work in partnership with H&R Block, the William J. Clinton Foundation, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and the American Red Cross, as well as receive funding from the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund.

In addition to helping Katrina survivors collect more than $6.5 million in (EITC) Earned Income Tax Credits and receive free tax services, other milestones included:

  • Assisting 4,324 families in receiving over $6.5 million in EITC refunds -- an average of more than $1,500 per family -- by ensuring that eligible taxpayers from all of the Katrina-impacted states claim the EITC;
  • Providing free tax preparation for 5,000 taxpayers at H&R Block offices across the Gulf Coast;
  • Delivering free tax advice, access to prior-year returns and other essential financial counseling and support for impacted individuals and families who continued to work through the lengthy recovery process;
  • Distributing over 58,000 Emergency Financial First Aid Kits (EFFAKs) - available for download at www.operationhope.org
  • Implementing a PSA campaign with the support of President Clinton through Premiere Radio Networks to bring much-needed attention to the EITC outreach program nationally;
  • Establishing ongoing emergency and financial literacy guidance for individuals in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi with the help of funding from the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund and the Mississippi Development Authority.

Additional partnerships with the State of Louisiana, the Mississippi Development Authority, the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Louisiana Department of Economic Development, helped HOPE provide critical services to support rebuilding efforts for small businesses.

Project Restore HOPE provided critical financial expertise to Katrina survivors to increase economic and social development in the storm’s aftermath. Clients received services that included emergency one-on-one credit management, working with creditors on delinquent payments, how to build an emergency budget, finding destroyed financial records, and finding a reputable home inspector.   Counseling for disaster preparedness and recovery seminars were also offered to ensure continued growth and good financial habits.

HOPE Coalition America was formed in 2001 as a collaborative effort of private sector and government organizations to address the financial challenges individuals and small businesses face after disasters or emergencies  HCA offices are staffed by trained financial professionals to provide financial literacy classes and one-on-one counseling for organizing personal financial information, establishing a budget, reviewing insurance coverage, creating disaster recovery budgeting, cash flow management, accounting services, tax assistance, financial statements and business projections, banking relationships, loan applications and financial guidance for individuals and small businesses.

About Operation HOPE, Inc.

Founded in 1992 and headquartered in Los Angeles, Operation HOPE is rated a 4-star charity by Charity Navigator. A global nonprofit focused on financial dignity, HOPE has empowered more than 2.5 million individuals and directed more than $1.8 billion in private capital to America’s low-wealth communities. Currently, HOPE is focused on Project 5117, a multi-year initiative that will track and increase business role models for youth, boost credit scores for adults, and empower underserved communities.