Standing alongside U.S. President George W. Bush, U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson and U.S. Treasurer Anna Cabral, Operation HOPE Founder, Chairman and CEO John Hope Bryant today was named Vice-Chairman of the newly created President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy.
“We have confidence in the long-term strength of America. And so should the American people. This is a flexible, this is a resilient, this is a dynamic economy, and the entrepreneurial spirit is high. We want people to own assets; we want people to be able to manage their assets. We want people to understand basic financial concepts, and how credit cards work and how credit scores affect you, how you can benefit from a savings account or a bank account. That’s what we want. And this group of citizens has taken the lead, and I appreciate it,” stated President Bush. The President announced that philanthropist Charles R. Schwab, chairman and CEO of the Charles Schwab Corporation, will serve as the Council’s Chairman and Mr. Bryant as vice-chairman, and that he was thankful for their leadership.
Operating under the guidance of the U.S. Treasury Department with the specific charge of keeping America competitive and assisting citizens in understanding and addressing financial matters, the 19-member council will focus exclusively on economic empowerment issues. A literal who’s who of respected business, non-profit and faith-based industry leaders, the bi-partisan panel includes several distinguished individuals.
Among them is Don J. McGrath, Chairman, Bank of the West and Chairman and CEO of BancWest Corporation. An executive committee member on Operation HOPE’s (HOPE) National Board of Directors, not only has Mr. McGrath been a longtime HOPE supporter, he has played a vital role in solidifying the partnership that exists between Bank of The West and the non-profit organization.
President Bush also named to the Advisory Council Theodore Beck of Colorado; Theodore R. Daniels of Maryland; Cutler Dawson of Virginia; Robert F. Duvall of New York; Tahira Hira of Iowa; Jack E. Kosakowski of Colorado; Sharon L. Lechter of Arizona; Robert V. Lee III of Florida; Laura Levine of the District of Columbia; David Mancl of Wisconsin; Janet Parker of Alabama; Ignacio Salazar of Michigan; and Mary L. Schapiro of the District of Columbia.
Each of the respective advisees will serve a 2-year term as a representative of his or her industry, trade group, public interest group, or other organization, and will represent the views of diverse stakeholders around the country. Their duties will include advising the President and Treasury Secretary on such goals as improving financial education efforts for students and adults in the workplace, and establishing effective measures of national financial literacy, and promoting effective access to financial services, especially for those without access to such services.
“I personally would like to commend President Bush for providing the necessary leadership to make financial literacy a priority in 21st century American life,” said Bryant. “It is my hope that this historic Advisory Council will seek to provide dignity for millions of low-wealth Americans, ethnic minorities, and anyone in this country who feels shut out and left behind by capitalism and the free enterprise system. This is extremely personal to me, and lies at the very core of why I founded Operation HOPE.”
Created in response to the 1992 civil unrest that occurred in Los Angeles after the Rodney King verdicts, HOPE is the leading non-profit social investment banking and financial literacy empowerment organization in the nation. Having educated more than 271,000 youth throughout the U.S. and South Africa, HOPE has also created more than 1,000 new homeowners and small business owners, and has generated more than $400 million in commitments for homeownership and small business loans from their 400 bank and corporate partners.
HOPE’s Banking on Our Future Program has educated more than 270,000 low-wealth youth, mostly black and Latino, in financial literacy, dignity and in South Africa, entrepreneurship. HOPE’s emergency economic response division, HOPE Coalition America (HCA), has helped more than 100,000 survivors of Hurricane Katrina. Along with H & R Block, these efforts have resulted in $12 million in tax refunds that have gone to Katrina survivors in the Gulf region. HOPE has also successfully helped return more than $7 million in Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) refunds to Americans unaware that they were entitled to these monies.
On Friday, January 18, 2008, HCA announced its Mortgage Crisis Hotline to assist those impacted by the sub-prime mortgage crisis. In partnership with Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti, since Friday morning, HOPE has logged more than 7,000 calls from those in need in Los Angeles alone.
A recognized expert in the financial literacy field, TIME Magazine selected Bryant as part of their cover story in 1994 as “One of America’s 50 Most Promising Leaders of the Future.” Since then, the Compton, California native has received more than 400 awards and citations for his work to educate, inspire and empower low-wealth communities, including the “Use Your Life” Award from Oprah Winfrey. In 2006, Bryant received the Vanguard Man of the Year Award from the Association of Black Harvard Women at Harvard University, and was honored with the 38th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Excellence in Leadership Award.
Having worked with former President Clinton and his foundation, John Hope Bryant was prominently featured in former President Bill Clinton’s recent national best-selling book, “Giving: How Each Of Us Can Change The World.”