SOURCE: Operation HOPE, Inc.

October 24, 2007 11:47 ET

Economic Development Administration Announces $600,000 Commitment to Operation HOPE

Fund Will Support Small Business Empowerment Programs in Low-Wealth Communities, Helping to Address Racial Economic Disparity and Counter Unemployment Through Entrepreneurship and Job Creation

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - October 24, 2007) - Senior Bush Administration officials today presented a $600,000 Economic Development Administration (EDA) investment check to Operation HOPE, the international organization dedicated to financial literacy and featured in Bill Clinton's recent book "Giving," to support the continuation and expansion of the HOPE Center Small Business Technical Assistance program in Southeast Washington, DC.

The HOPE Center assists small business owners and entrepreneurs in the Anacostia section of the District of Columbia.

"We commend EDA for its support of Operation HOPE and our mission to empower people in underserved communities," said John Hope Bryant, HOPE founder, chairman, and chief executive officer. "Through their commitment to empowering small businesses in low-wealth areas, EDA is providing both opportunity and dignity where it is needed most."

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Sandy K. Baruah and U.S. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton and HOPE leaders participated in a roundtable discussion about the impact of financial literacy on minority communities, with a particular focus on African Americans in the District of Columbia and surrounding regions.

"America's competitiveness and innovation flourish in vibrant, economically growing communities that are creating jobs and opportunities," said Baruah. "Successful economic development is driven at the local level -- by leaders like Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton. It takes both smart national policies and smart local initiatives to ensure that the American dream reaches all parts of our great nation. This investment will help Operation Hope generate a commercial environment that will attract entrepreneurs, businesses and capital to Anacostia."

The Operation HOPE Small Business Empowerment Program (SBEP) is an integrated system designed for minority and small businesses located in under-served communities. The program seeks to vertically integrate education, entrepreneurial training, counseling and tracking functions with direct lending. The end result is that small businesses will receive the necessary tools and resources from "beginning to end" to ensure success, growth, increased revenues and create jobs within designated under-served communities across America.

Since the D.C. flagship center opened in 2005, Operation HOPE has improved the economic quality life of nearly 14,000 residents in the Anacostia/Washington, D.C. area through its economic empowerment initiatives. Operation HOPE Chairman and Founder, John Hope Bryant will address the importance of promoting a "silver rights" bill, in order to break the bonds of poverty and empower underserved individuals by strengthening their right to readily access financial revenue streams.

About EDA

EDA serves as a venture capital resource to meet the economic development needs of distressed communities throughout the United States. EDA's mission is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting innovation and competitiveness, preparing American regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy.

Additional information on how EDA investments are helping distressed communities create a positive and sustainable economic future can be accessed at: http://www.eda.gov.

About Operation HOPE, Inc.

Operation HOPE is America's leading nonprofit social investment banking and financial literacy empowerment organization. Through international and local initiatives and its three principal programs: Banking on Our Future (teaching school children about money), HOPE Coalition America (financial emergency preparedness and disaster relief), and Walk-In HOPE Centers (loans, bill pay, computer literacy, understanding banking principles) Operation HOPE has assumed the responsibility of piloting the "silver rights" movement towards making free enterprise and capitalism relevant to all underserved communities.

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