DRA, Operation HOPE expand financial empowerment, entrepreneurial training with $500,000 investment

January 06, 2017

Delta businesses, families to receive access to no-cost one-on-one credit and money management counseling support and entrepreneur training workshops

MISSISSIPPI RIVER DELTA – Low-income families and small businesses across the Delta will have access to vital financial literacy education and entrepreneurial training programs through a new partnership between the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) and global financial dignity nonprofit Operation HOPE, Inc. 

DRA will invest $250,000, with a $250,000 match programming contribution from strategic financial partners of Operation HOPE, to provide groundbreaking economic uplift in the region, beginning with six rural communities in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. The goal of the initiative is to serve more than 3,000 individuals and businesses in 2017. 

The initial impact areas include DeSoto and Natchitoches parishes in Louisiana; Tate and Tunica counties in Mississippi; and Fayette and Haywood counties in Tennessee. Operation HOPE will install certified financial wellbeing coaches in the specified communities. The coaches will provide one-on-one counseling and mentoring to help individuals manage money and credit and raise credit scores, as well as provide resources on small business startup and development. 

“Operation HOPE has a well-established record of providing financial empowerment to more than 2.5 million individuals and creating $2 billion in economic activity in low-wealth communities,” said DRA Chairman Chris Masingill. “We are partnering with this outstanding organization to extend DRA’s mission of building communities, increasing economic opportunities, and bolstering entrepreneurial activity. Operation HOPE delivers a proven model to help advance the productivity of Delta communities and boost the overall economic competitiveness of our region.”

The HOPE Inside model has allowed private financial institutions to scale, and sustainably package and deliver, financial literacy and empowerment programming, at no cost to the client. Today, there are 50 existing HOPE Inside locations across the nation, and commitments for more than 250 new offices within the next 18 months. 

“By partnering with DRA, Operation HOPE is gaining a tremendous opportunity to deliver financial dignity to low-income individuals in the Delta to help them transform their communities and create a more secure financial future,” said Operation HOPE Founder, Chairman and CEO John Hope Bryant. “Financial literacy is more important than ever to building a robust Delta economy and turning our small businesses into regional and global leaders.”

The new initiative will expand financial literacy programs and deliver economic empowerment to distressed low-income communities. The program includes community outreach, education and workshops, and networking and entrepreneurial training. The effort complements DRA’s Delta Entrepreneurship Network and the Delta I-Fund, programs that create new jobs and expanded income opportunities through entrepreneurial efforts across the eight-state DRA region.

Individuals can visit www.operationhope.org to learn more about accessing the programs and services.

WATCH Chairman Chris Masingill and Operation HOPE, Inc. Founder, Chairman, and CEO John Hope Bryant's candid conversation about generational poverty and strategies for economic growth in rural Delta communities.
 

About the Delta Regional Authority
The Delta Regional Authority is a federal-state partnership created by Congress in 2000 to help create jobs, build communities, and improve lives through strategic investments in economic development in 252 counties and parishes across eight states. To date, the DRA’s SEDAP investments, together with its state and local partners, have leveraged $138 million in federal resources into more than $2.9 billion in public and private investment into local small business owners, entrepreneurs, workers, and infrastructure development projects. These investments have helped create or retain more than 26,000 jobs since the DRA was established. Learn more at dra.gov.

About Operation HOPE
Since 1992, Operation HOPE has been moving America from civil rights to "silver rights" with the mission of making free enterprise and capitalism work for the underserved. Through its core programs, the nonprofit has provided financial dignity and economic empowerment to over 2.6 million individuals worldwide, and $2 billion in economic activity for the disenfranchised—turning check cashing customers into banking customers, renters into homeowners, small business dreamers into small business owners and minimum wage workers into living wage consumers.  Project 5117 is HOPE’s multi-year four-pronged approach to combating economic inequality that aims to improve financial literacy, increase business role models and business internships for youth, and stabilize the American dream by boosting credit scores. For more information: www.OperationHOPE.org. Follow Operation HOPE on Twitter @operationhope

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Media Contact: Andrew Moreau
amoreau@dra.gov