HOPE Business In A Box: Reflection from a HOPE Summer Fellow

 By Tammer Weems, HOPE Business In A Box Summer Fellow

We have heard of the steps the government plans to take to reduce the dropout rate, we have also heard of the economic and social consequences for someone without a high school diploma, however my question to you is, are you aware of the numbers?

The Alliance for Excellent Education reveals that the State of Georgia has the third highest dropout rate, tied with South Carolina, at 41%; 7000 students nationwide are said to dropout everyday; it has been estimated that 1.3 million students will not graduate from high school. Allow me to put this in perspective, 1 in every 4 students will not graduate from high school and will make approximately $260,000 less than their high school colleagues. Students who do not finish high school pose a serious problem on the social economic health of the country and more importantly are subjected to difficult lifestyles.

Now let me introduce the solution that considers the numbers, addresses the root cause, and has the supporting cast to implement it effectively.

My summer fellowship took place at the Operation HOPE South-Eastern Regional office in Atlanta, Georgia as the Deputy Director, HOPE Business In A Box Summer Fellow.  This office is unique in that it houses several different departments where fellows or interns can become acclimated with the full scope of Operation HOPE.  The programs in the Atlanta Market have educated more than 38,000 students since fall 2005, improved the credit scores for hundreds, and educated over 550 individuals through the HOPE Credit Counseling Hotline. 

Operation HOPE has erected the America 2020 national campaign that will utilize HOPE Business In A Box “Powered by the Gallup-HOPE Index”, to decrease the aforementioned dropout rates while empowering America’s youth. HOPE Business In A Box will guide and transform a youth’s natural aspiration and state of hope into practical and life-changing action steps. This will be done by reconnecting the power of aspiration with power of education in the lives of today’s’ youth.

Skeptically, let me revert back to the numbers.

Powered by the Gallup-HOPE Index, HOPE Business In A Box will double the level of hope, wellbeing, engagement, financial literacy and entrepreneurial energy amongst 4th to 12th graders by 2020, increase the business mentorship and business internship rate from 5% to 20%, create 25,000 new youth run start up businesses and have measurable impact on America’s projected GDP growth.

I am pleased to have been a part of such a powerful initiative. Upon starting my fellowship, I was given several pages of information detailing the scope of HOPE Business In A Box and its current phase. I figured out very quickly that my position would involve the “learn-as-you-go method”; intentional or unintentional, this was one of the very first things I admired about Operation HOPE. The “learn-as-you- go method” involves picking up where someone left off and being held accountable to the same standard as if you were working on the project for years. This method drove me to work harder and smarter. The “working harder” aspect came naturally to me; the “working smarter” aspect involved me to ask strategic questions that would lend me the important answers and additional information needed to infer the next steps for the program.

Operation HOPE has been an amazing organization to work for. Upon stepping into the Peachtree Tower, HOPE had already taught me something, that there is an organization out here that values hard work while properly utilizing your talents. My advice to other fellows would be, to appreciate working with such an amazing team, for you are always appreciated and forever in shape!


Tammer Weems, a 2011 graduate of Oglethorpe University and a graduate-level student at Kennesaw State University, was the 2012 HOPE Business In A Box Fellow.

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