Nonprofit Initiates Challenge to Level the Economic Playing Field for Underserved Americans by Finishing the Work of The Freedman’s Bank

ATLANTA, June 19, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — In recognition of Juneteenth, Operation HOPE, a national nonprofit dedicated to helping low-and moderate-income Americans thrive in an ever-changing economy, today announced the launch of The 1865 Projectan initiative designed to help level the economic playing field for underserved Americans.

The 1865 Project will look to finish the work of the Freedman’s Bank— started by President Abraham Lincoln and American social reformer, Frederick Douglass— which was initially designed to teach the formerly enslaved about money. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Operation HOPE Global Spokesperson Ambassador Andrew Young advanced this work with ‘The Poor People’s Campaign’ during the Second Reconstruction of the 1960’s. Today, as Operation HOPE continues to evolve a Third Reconstruction, it is convening the public and private sectors in a national movement to help level the playing field for Americans – of all ethnicities – so that families can thrive in a free enterprise economy. The ultimate goal is to finish the work of the Freedman’s Bank at scale, for everyone.

In 2016, Operation HOPE Founder and CEO John Hope Bryant inspired U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to rename the Treasury Annex, formerly the Freedman’s Bank headquarters, to the Freedman’s Bank Building, becoming the only American citizen to have a building renamed on the White House campus. 

“The Freedman’s Bank was the 1865 version of financial literacy for the underserved,” said Bryant. “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.”

Recognized by Fast Company as a 2023 World Changing Idea, Operation HOPE will utilize its innovative financial coaching model to connect underserved communities to the private sector. With over 250 offices nationwide, Operation HOPE is ‘America’s Financial Coach’ – the private banker to the struggling working class and overextended middle class.

With a goal of opening 1,000 offices by 2030, Operation HOPE’s mission is to expand economic opportunity in underserved communities through financial education and empowerment by offering programs that create stabilized communities and financial stakeholders.

Since its inception, Operation HOPE has:

  • Served over 4 million individuals across the U.S.
  • Assisted clients in accessing capital totaling more than $3.5 billion.
  • Supported over 275,000 Black-owned businesses to launch, grow or scale through its One Million Black Businesses (1MBB) initiative.
  • Increased client credit scores by an average of 42 points. (2022)
  • Reduced client debt by an average of $1,944. (2022)
  • Increased client savings by an average of $1,100. (2022)

To view the Operation HOPE 2022 Annual Impact Report, click here.

Operation HOPE serves four core constituencies:

  • Youth in underserved schools.
  • Low-income adults in underserved communities.
  • Small business owners and entrepreneurs.
  • Families who have been affected by either natural or man-made disasters.

Those interested in supporting The 1865 Project and the work of Operation HOPE can:

  • Become an annual member (individual or organizational)
  • Become a partner (stand up HOPE programming in your community)
  • Become a HOPE Commitment Maker (stand up a community-changing commitment in your neighborhood or organization).
  • Become a volunteer (mentorship, events, internships, fellowships, loaned executives)

To learn more about ‘The 1865 Project’ and how to get involved, go to

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—disrupting poverty for millions of low and moderate-income youth and adults across the nation. Through its community uplift model, HOPE Inside, which received the Innovator of the Year recognition by American Banker magazine, Operation HOPE has served more than 4 million individuals and directed more than $4 billion in economic activity into disenfranchised communities—turning check-cashing customers into banking customers, renters into homeowners, small business dreamers into small business owners, minimum wage workers into living wage consumers, and uncertain disaster victims into financially empowered disaster survivors. For more information: Follow the HOPE conversation on Twitter.

Lalohni Campbell, Per Se Media Group,
Kevin Boucher, Operation HOPE,

SOURCE Operation HOPE, Inc.

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