Operation Hope Announces Initiative To Assist Low- and Middle-Income Households

Operation Hope Announces Initiative To Assist Low- and Middle-Income Households

In honor of Juneteenth, the non-profit Operation HOPE recently announced The 1865 Project, according to a press release. This new project aims to level the economic field so Americans can support themselves in a free enterprise economy. 

Operation HOPE bridges the gap between America’s low and middle-income classes and the private sector; it has more than 250 offices nationwide. The organization wants to provide economic opportunities to underserved communities through financial programs and resources.  

The 1865 Project plans to complete the unfinished work the Freedman’s Bank set out to do during the country’s Reconstruction Era. Founded by President Abraham Lincoln and social reformer Frederick Douglass, the Freedman’s Bank was formed to educate formerly-enslaved Americans about finances. However, this goal never came to fruition.

According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, a financial panic caused the bank’s investments to lose all value, rendering them worthless. John Hope Bryant, Operation HOPE’s founder, spoke with BLACK ENTERPRISE about the Freedman’s Bank at length for Juneteenth: 

Years later, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in partnership with Operation HOPE’s Global Ambassador Andrew Young, continued the bank’s mission, launching the Poor People’s Campaign in the 1960s in another effort to provide resources for America’s disadvantaged.

Now, The 1865 Project wants to finish what was started all those years ago.

“The Freedman’s Bank was the 1865 version of financial literacy for the underserved,”  Bryant said.  “At that moment in history, America had the opportunity to make good on a promise of not just civil and civic participation for the formerly enslaved, but economic participation as well. That bold vision never came to fruition, a challenge we want to reissue to America.”

Operation HOPE will implement a financial coaching model to connect underserved communities to the private sector. Since 1992, it has helped launch and grow over 250,000 Black-owned businesses, reduced client debt by an average of nearly $2,000, increased client savings by an average of $1100 and more. 

Operation HOPE plans to assist four core demographics: youth in underserved schools, low-income adults in underserved communities, small business owners and entrepreneurs, and families that suffered from natural and man-made disasters. 

Readers can celebrate Juneteenth 2023 with BLACK ENTERPRISE by indulging in monthlong content that details the history of Black prosperity and banking, and the future of investing and financial literacy for Black communities