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January 01 2008

Operation HOPE Founder and Financial Literacy Proponent Puts "Silver Rights" on Federal Reserve Agenda

Financial Empowerment Organization Meets With Federal Reserve in an Effort to Ensure That Underserved Communities Keep Access to Financial Opportunities

LOS ANGELES, CA--- August 20, 2008 --- John Hope Bryant, Operation HOPE (HOPE) founder and chief executive officer, who also serves as vice chair on the U.S. President's Advisory Council on Financial Literacy (the Council), discussed today his historic meeting earlier this month with the Federal Reserve chairman and its board of governors to address the importance of financial literacy and education and the "silver rights movement" for America's underserved communities.

Bryant, with his organization, Operation HOPE, has been a long-time leader in financial literacy rights for the underserved communities of the United States, and spoke at length with Chairman Ben Bernanke and the Board about the need for a comprehensive policy to encourage and teach financial literacy and its ability to transform the lives of many Americans struggling to understand complex terms and jargon used in personal finance, including credit card agreements, and mortgage and loan applications.

"As the 'silver rights movement' continues to build momentum, the recent meeting with Chairman Bernanke only supports the mission critical efforts of the Council's work and Operation HOPE's longtime goals," said Bryant, who also serves as chairman of The Committee of the Underserved, a subgroup of The Council. "I believe our meeting today will be the start of a historic shift in how America and Americans approach personal finance and financial literacy. As our current economy shows, 'silver rights' is not an issue of the poor, it affects us all."

Federal Reserve Board Governors in attendance included Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, Vice Chairman Donald L. Kohn, Kevin M. Warsh, and Governors Randall S. Kroszner, Frederic S. Mishkin, and Elizabeth A. Duke.

Operation HOPE and the Federal Reserve
For over a decade, Operation HOPE has worked closely with the Federal Reserve, beginning the alliance in 1993 with the work of the late Preston Martin, a national HOPE board member and former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve. Involvement extended to both past and present Fed chairmen Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke. It includes participation on HOPE’s Board by Joy Hoffman, group vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank in San Francisco, and Alicia Williams, vice president and community affairs officer of the Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago, and Sandy Braunstein, director of the Division of Consumer and Community Affairs, for the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, who served on HOPE’s Mid-Atlantic board from June 2004 – 2007.

Sandra Braunstein in particular has proven to be a consistent and substantive advocate for the under-served within the Fed, an invaluable bridge to and between the larger the Federal Reserve System, and a long-time friend of HOPE and its founder John Hope Bryant. Ms. Braunstein served as the critical link between HOPE and the Federal Reserve for the historic 2003 Banking on Our Future financial literacy teaching session that took place between Mr. Bryant and then Fed Chairman Greenspan, and again with respect to the first ever policy speech given by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke in an inner-city, at the 2006 Anacostia Economic Summit, also hosted by Operation HOPE.

This long-standing relationship has resulted in a variety of initiatives that ensure the underserved communities and community members across the country can have accurate information and reliable access to basic financial opportunities, such as mortgages and loans for homeownership.

In addition to Operation HOPE's efforts with the Federal Reserve, other and future initiatives include the Mortgage HOPE Crisis Hotline (1-888-388-HOPE) and the 5 Million Kids Campaign, aimed at stemming the tidal wave of high school dropouts by highlighting the importance of education in future financial successes.