Leaders of First Tennessee Bank were joined by John Hope Bryant, founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE, and local elected officials to celebrate the grand opening of the newest HOPE Inside location at First Tennessee Bank on Church St. in Murfreesboro. Part of a $1 million partnership between First Tennessee's Financial Education & Empowerment Program and global financial dignity and economic empowerment nonprofit Operation HOPE, Inc., the location will provide free financial education to area residents and small businesses. The ribbon cutting and grand opening happened Wednesday.
"Financial literacy and a healthy credit score are the foundation of financial security. First Tennessee's HOPE Inside program has demonstrated that it can play a key role in helping Tennessee families to build this foundation, and we are happy to bring this innovative program to the fastest growing community in our state - Murfreesboro and Rutherford County," said Yolanda Greene, First Tennessee Bank Community President of Rutherford County.
The curriculum at HOPE Inside First Tennessee starts with participation in one of the free monthly credit and money management workshops, facilitated by First Tennessee's employee volunteers, strategic nonprofit alliance partners and counselors. Once the workshop is completed, Operation HOPE financial wellbeing coaches work essentially as private bankers for the participants, who have committed to improving their credit scores.
"Our partnership with Operation HOPE helps provide the resources to empower people to help themselves. This newest location will help our neighbors learn how to build healthy credit and manage finances, with tools, classes and counseling designed to meet people where they are and take them where they want to go," said Carol Yochem, president of First Tennessee Bank in Middle Tennessee.
Participants are also counseled on the language of money and work with their coach to help transform established financial mindsets, develop customized action plans and make better decisions with their money.
"We are grateful to First Tennessee for this significant investment that will help create stronger communities across Tennessee and the region," Bryant said. "HOPE Inside provides the tools to create a more secure financial future. Individuals are coached on how to raise their credit score and move from renting to being a homeowner; how to get a job or create a small business and become a community builder; how to be smarter with the money they have - the kind of accomplishments that bring the American Dream within reach of anyone and transform whole communities."
The HOPE Inside model has allowed private financial institutions to scale, and sustainably package and deliver, financial literacy and empowerment programming, free to the client. HOPE Inside had its genesis in bank branches, but widespread market adoption continues to bring sponsored offices to government facilities, grocery stores, hospitals, and other community locations as well. Today, there are more than 60 existing locations across the nation, and commitments for more than 250 new offices within the next 18 months.
Programming at HOPE Inside includes credit and money management, homeownership preparedness, and small business entrepreneurship. Every office holds consumer credit counseling certification, CFPB, FDIC, U.S. SBA, EITC, HUD, and FEMA applications and partnerships. The HOPE 700-Credit-Score-Communities initiative supports participants in raising their credit scores to 700, which is a threshold for establishing good credit.
Three-hour workshops are held one Saturday morning each month at HOPE Inside locations. Anyone who has completed a workshop can schedule a private counseling session to get one-on-one advice and continue improving money management skills.
The first workshop in Murfreesboro is slated for June 17. More information is available in the community engagement section of www.FirstTennessee.com.
The first HOPE Inside at a First Tennessee financial center bank location opened in November 2014 in Memphis, and since the start of the bank's partnership with Operation Hope, more than 5,200 people have benefitted from the program. Today's opening is the 11th location, with four more planned to open by the end of the year.
About Operation HOPE Inc.
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. Operation HOPE recently received its second consecutive 4-star charity rating for fiscal management and commitment to transparency and accountability by the prestigious non-profit evaluator, Charity Navigator--further establishing it as a best-in-class organization. For more information: www.OperationHOPE.org. Follow Operation HOPE on Facebook and Twitter @OperationHOPE.