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November 13 2006

Operation HOPE Educates 200,000th Child and Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary of Financial Empowerment for Youth with Award Winning Banking on Our Future Program

10 Year Old Cleo Wilson of Denver, Colorado Celebrated as HOPE Child of the Decade; Operation HOPE’s Chief of Financial Literacy Initiatives, Mary Hagerty, celebrates 9-year anniversary leading effort

(Denver, CO) November 13, 2006 – Operation HOPE (HOPE) celebrated the 10th anniversary of its award-winning financial literacy program for youth, Banking on Our Future (BOOF), and a critical component of its expanding “silver rights” movement, with the education of it 200,000th child, sixth-grader, Cleo Wilson of Challenges and Choices Charter School in Denver, Colorado.

The teaching of our 200,000th child was achieved on the occasion of the launch of our 25th “silver rights” education and empowerment campaign office in the United States, Banking on Our Future, Denver, featuring a citywide private-public partnership with the Denver Public School System,  School Superintendent Michael Bennet, Mayor John W. Hickenlooper and former Mayor Wellington Webb on Wednesday, November 1, 2006, in Denver, Colorado.

The lead signature sponsor of Banking on Our Future, Denver is Bank of the West, whose chairman and chief executive officer, Don McGrath, serves on the national board of directors of Operation HOPE, and Art Shingleton, on hand for the announcement, is senior vice president of the bank and co-chairs our Northwest regional board. 

Also on November 1st , in commemoration of our 10th anniversary of the program and on program leader Mary Hagerty’s 9th anniversary with the organization, Operation HOPE announced the creation of the “Mary Hagerty-Operation HOPE $25.00 Starter Savings Account,” for every child that graduates from Banking on Our Future at Challenges and Choices Charter School in Denver, Colorado.  Going forward, in 2007, Operation HOPE will introduce a new system-wide “Operation HOPE $25.00 Starter Savings Account” for youth graduating and receiving a Certificate of Completion from the Banking on Our Future program nationwide.

HOPE plans to educate 25,000 Denver area students by 2010, and with support from our private-sector partners, invest over $1 million in financial literacy education instruction and training in and for the Denver Public Schools system. This is all part of its ongoing silver rights campaign to empower youth and to educate 5 million low-wealth youth worldwide by 2010. Bank of the West, the first lead partner, has already committed $250,000 over a two-year period in support of the pioneering effort in Denver, Colorado public schools. Former Denver Mayor, Wellington Webb, is also bolstering efforts, volunteering to co-chair the new Banking on Our Future, Denver advisory board. Jack Devereaux Jr., executive vice president of the bank in charge of the Denver market, has also agreed to serve as co-chairman of the Denver ad! visory board. 

HOPE recognized Mary Hagerty, SVP Chief of Financial Literacy Initiatives, for her 9 years of loyal service by earmarking some $300,000 in additional matched funds to establish the $25 “Mary Hagerty-HOPE Starter Savings Account.” The matched savings account is to be donated to Banking on Our Future graduates who open a savings account within a year of completing the course, and will also be funded by HOPE Partners in Denver.

“We are pleased to bring Banking on Our Future to Denver. We think it is important that everyone has equal access to learn how to take control of their financial future. That is our ‘silver right’. We are also proud to recognize our own Mary Hagerty. She has been a major force in educating and empowering our nation’s underserved youth, as the Banking on Our Future lead,” said John Hope Bryant, Operation HOPE founder and CEO. “Mary Hagerty led the expansion of our Banking on Our Future program from a 2 staff team in Los Angeles to a 20-plus city and the District of Columbia operation, providing financial literacy tools and education to more than 200,000 youth nationwide. We are proud and thankful for her continued leadership and groundbreaking efforts.” Mary Hagerty reports to Lance Triggs, executive vice president of Operation HOPE and is in charge of all programs and field operations.

Banking on Our Future is HOPE’s premier financial literacy system and the nation’s only urban delivery system for on-the-ground financial literacy education, designed to train and inspire youth to learn to use money wisely. It targets students age 9-18, at no cost to school districts or schools, although primarily focused on urban, underserved communities; the curriculum is unilaterally applicable to all school systems.

The program is a winner of the Oprah’s Angel Network Award and the U.S. Treasury Department’s John Sherman Award for Financial Literacy Excellence. Initiated in 1996, the program has educated over 200,000 youth nationwide. Banking on Our Future teaches youth the basics of checking, saving and the importance of credit and investment, using a network of area HOPE Corps volunteers from local banking and private financial-industry related firms.

In ten years, the program has launched an online training program for middle and elementary school students (www.bankingonourfuture.org), sponsored by E TRADE Financial, and has expanded to on-the-ground program offices throughout California, Oregon, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington, D.C., , Michigan, Texas and now Colorado.

Mayor Hickenlooper, Michael Bennet, Superintendent of Denver Public Schools, Former Mayor Wellington Webb, and Jack Devereaux, Retail Bank Group Division Executive of Bank of the West, also participated in the program launch. Also present were Operation HOPE partners Alliant Credit Union, Bank of the West, Citywide Banks, Denver Community Federal Credit Union, Edward Jones, 1st Bank, Regis University, State Farm, US Bank and Wells Fargo, who are providing volunteer HOPE Corps members to the Denver effort.

National partners who support the HOPE’s Banking on Our Future program include: Citigroup, E*TRADE Financial, Banco Popular, FDIC, First American, National Credit Union Association, ING, the New York Stock Exchange, State Farm, Toyota, and US Bank.