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January 01 2008

African Ancestry and Operation HOPE Launch Africa-Connect Initiative Helps Connect African Americans With Their DNA Roots

HOPE CEO John Hope Bryant promotes global "Silver Rights Movement" of African trade, commerce and self awareness during new speaker series kick-off and personal lineage "Reveal" ceremony in Harlem

LOS ANGELES -- March 26, 2008 -- Launching Operation HOPE's (HOPE) National CEOs, Leaders & Luminaries Speaker Series in Harlem last night, Founder John Hope Bryant underwent his own "African Ancestry Reveal" -- the process of mapping a DNA sample match through a database containing more than 25,000 African lineages -- while promoting the importance of strengthening ties between African Americans and the Diaspora.

The ceremony proved to be an emotional experience for Bryant, particularly when he discovered he is a descendant of Cameroon origin, like his mentor and friend, music legend Quincy Jones. "I am moved more than I ever thought I would be," the recently named vice chairman for the U.S. President's Advisory Council on Financial Literacy shared during his one-hour presentation. "We are empowered by details, and this small fact is a significant detail in my life, and brings with it such inner dignity. I am forever linked to my beginnings, and I have always felt something very special about being in Africa when I visit the continent."

Bryant continued, "I have always believed that we do business with people and not governments, companies or countries. For African Americans and others interested in Africa, this will not only help provide a basis for personal growth, but it will also lay a foundation to build two-way trade relations with one of the richest continents on the face of the earth, mother Africa."

African Ancestry's exclusive database of African lineages includes gene sequences collected from 400 different populations in Africa, with a focus on west and central Africa, the source of most slaves from 1619 to 1850. Gina Paige, African Ancestry's president and a friend of HOPE, used the test to find her own family links with people from Nigeria, Liberia, Angola and Portugal.

Civil rights icon Andrew Young, former Atlanta Mayor, U.S. Congressman, UN Ambassador and current HOPE Global Spokesman, is one of about 100,000 people who now know their roots since the company first offered the service in February 2003.

"The mission of African Ancestry is to transform the way that people view themselves and Africa," said Paige. "We are excited about the impact that our work continues to have at home and on the continent. In addition to sharing this information with their families at reunions and other gatherings, our clients are also traveling, rebuilding schools and clinics, and investing in Africa now that they know their roots."

Through HOPE Global Initiative's memorandum of agreement with USAID's Volunteer for Prosperity, it is the organization's desire that more individuals from the U.S., Europe and elsewhere who travel to Africa will volunteer and/or teach in a classroom during their time in the region. The success HOPE has had with its award-winning youth financial literacy program, Banking on Our Future, launched in June 2007, in South Africa as Operation HOPE of South Africa and Banking on Our Future, South Africa, has resulted in 120 HOPE Corps volunteers being recruited from institutions such as Citi, our first global partner, Standard Bank, Deutsche Bank of South Africa and others, and 1,471 youth and women being educated in basic money management principles and a course in dignity in South Africa, to date.

Individuals that purchase a DNA test kit through the newly created "Africa-Connect" initiative will also be supporting the global work of Operation HOPE, as African Ancestry has agreed to make a contribution of proceeds from all sales to the "Silver Rights" organization. For more about African Ancestry, visit www.africanancestry.com.