NerdWallet’s Favorite Operation HOPE Programs: Local Edition

Personal Finance

Operation HOPE’s Global Financial Dignity Summit is back for another year next week (November 14th and 15th). Keynote speaker Ben Bernanke and approximately 1,000 delegates will gather to discuss long-term, sustainable solutions for eradicating economic problems in the United States and abroad. Operation HOPE is a non-profit organization working to promote financial literacy and economic empowerment among “the working poor, the underclass and the struggling middle class”. Since 1992, their programs have reached over 1.2 million individuals in 273 U.S. cities, South Africa and Haiti.

Real change, right in your backyard

This week and next week, you’re probably going to hear a lot about the fabulous things Operation HOPE is doing on a national and international level. However, they’re also doing amazing things right in your own backyard. Program volunteers work on-site at Operation HOPE Centers and offsite in partnership with other nonprofits to help your community achieve financial independence. We’ve scoured the web to find out what local chapters have been doing in the past year, and we’re happy to bring you our top picks for events and programs.

Oakland, CA – Identity Theft Forum

Operation HOPE Bay Area partnered with Bank of the West and the Identity Theft Assistance Center to host an identity theft forum at the Mills College Graduate School of Business. Other community partners like the FDIC, Bank on Oakland and SparkPoint Center also participated in the event. The panelists discussed how identity theft affects people in an increasingly digital world, especially with the prevalent use of the Internet and smartphones. The event also offered free on-site document shredding services, and two personal shredders were given away in a raffle.

Washington, DC – 700 Credit Community

The 700 Credit Score Communities project is part of Operation HOPE’s organization-wide financial literacy initiative to boost the average credit score in low-income communities from 550 to the 650 – 750 range. Participants at the Operation HOPE DC Financial Dignity Center’s most recent 700 Credit class worked together to set personal financial goals. They also created “vision boards” as a way of visually representing their dreams and action plans, and used them to make presentations to the rest of the class. To create change in an entire community, you have to start with a handful of people. We applaud the DC Financial Dignity Center and other HOPE Centers for their efforts.

Atlanta, GA – Emergency Financial Preparedness Workshop

Natural disasters are devastating, but when you’re financially secure, it weakens the blow. HOPE Atlanta recently hosted their first emergency financial preparedness workshop as part of their entrepreneurial training program. Although they spent some time discussing the types of geographical threats that Georgia faces, the primary focus of the workshop was to help participants secure their businesses physically and financially in the event of an emergency. Program participants learned strategies for maintaining financial stability and creating a recovery plan. They also learned which documents they need to have prepared, and where to store their first aid kits and disaster plans.

New York, NY – Getting Ahead Program

New York HOPE partnered with Neighborhood Trust Financial Partners (NTFP), an Upper Manhattan financial literacy organization, to offer the Getting Ahead program. This 5-week financial literacy course, created by Neighborhood Trust in 2007, teaches participants how to set financial goals, use financial services wisely, budget, manage debt, build credit and create a long-term financial plan. Program graduates are guaranteed an NTFP counselor for life. They’re also encouraged to open a checking or savings account with NTFP’s partner community development credit union. No financial literacy course is helpful without long-term reinforcement, and we appreciate New York HOPE’s multifaceted approach to promoting financial independence.

Miami, FL – Emergency Financial Aid Training

In partnership with Catholic Charities, Open Arms and ACCESS Miami, Operation HOPE is reaching out to Spanish-speaking residents with financial literacy classes. Recently, ACCESS Miami helped them teach an emergency financial aid workshop in conjunction with the Catholic Charities Banking 101 series and the Open America Credit and Money Management workshop series. Participants learned how to prepare and secure their personal documents in case of an emergency or national disaster. We love that Operation HOPE recognized a dire need for multilingual financial literacy education and worked with local organizations to make it happen.

Los Angeles, CA – Mortgage HOPE Crisis Hotline

Sometimes, the best local ideas can impact an entire organization. Los Angeles City Councilman Eric Garcetti came up with the idea for Operation HOPE’s Mortgage HOPE Crisis Hotline in response to the subprime mortgage crisis. What began as a program for Spanish-speaking L.A. residents has since expanded into a national program that’s helped more than 100,000 individuals and families modify or restructure their mortgages. The Mortgage HOPE Crisis Center is staffed 24 hours a day. Certified home ownership and foreclosure prevention counselors are always available to give callers information on negotiating, modifying loans, avoiding foreclosure, selling a house, or restructuring debt.

New Orleans, LA – Website Basics for Small Businesses

In this computer-centric day and age, it’s hard to make it as a business owner if you don’t have a basic understanding of the Web. The New Orleans HOPE Financial Empowerment Center teaches a class called Website Basics for Small Businesses that discusses how to build a website and establish a web presence. The center’s technology coordinator is also happy to meet with program participants one-on-one to help them expand their Web presence.

How To Get Involved

You can support Operation HOPE’s mission with a cash donation, or you can apply to become a HOPE Corps Volunteer and help teach financial literacy classes in your community. If you own a business, you can also apply to be a company partner. Thanks in advance for your interest in promoting financial literacy for all.