ATLANTA (December 23, 2022) – Nearly 5,000 delegates representing over 40 countries gathered at Operation HOPE’s 9th Annual HOPE Global Forums | Annual Meeting (HGF). The standing-room-only conference garnered multiple new partner commitments to grow and expand financial empowerment programming in 2023 and attained more than 1 million views online, making it the largest event of its kind. This year’s theme was “Bridging the Divide.”
The event also marks HOPE’s 30th Anniversary and was hosted in the same historic ballroom where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. launched his final campaign with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1967. The mission over 50 years ago aligns with HGF’s focus today – creating economic empowerment for all. The Forum’s agenda included four program tracks: Bridging: The Wealth Divide, Bridging: The Cultural Disconnect, Bridging: The Opportunity Gap, Bridging: The Wellbeing Deficiency.
“The room was electric. You could feel the attendees’ high energy and every speaker enlightened, inspired and informed,” said John Hope Bryant, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE. “HOPE Global Forums is the only event where you can find such a diverse mix of dynamic leaders and influencers. We have created a unique experience that lives at the intersection of community, ideas and action.”
During the Forum’s opening plenary, Kristy Fercho, Wells Fargo Head of Diverse Segments, Representation and Inclusion, committed to 120 new HOPE Inside locations, providing no-charge financial education services to communities. The Operation HOPE program offers in-person financial coaching sessions to help individuals build savings, improve FICO (credit) scores, and decrease debt. The result helps to convert renters into homeowners, credit invisibles into credit-worthy individuals and small business dreamers into thriving entrepreneurs.
Other commitments announced include a $4 million partnership extension from Bank of America to increase their portfolio of HOPE programming. This includes offering free financial counseling in 180 financial centers in 17 U.S. markets starting in 2023. Vinebrook Homes, a leading provider of single-family rental homes, also made a five-year, $1 million commitment to provide its residents across the U.S. with resources and programs to help achieve financial freedom.
Speakers included a veritable who’s who in banking and finance, business, government, media, real estate, sports & entertainment and technology. This year’s speaker lineup featured Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, PayPal CEO Dan Schulman, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian, Bishop T.D. Jakes, NASCAR President Steve Phelps, Pfizer Chairman and CEO Dr. Albert Bourla, Artist, Entrepreneur & Activist Tip “T.I.” Harris, U.S. Senator Hon. Raphael Warnock, MSNBC President Rashida Jones, and the 27th Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration Isabella Casillas Guzman, among others.
Notably, the Forum also featured the second annual One Million Black Businesses Initiative (1MBB) Pitch Competition. Four innovative Black entrepreneurs shared their personal stories and business journeys for the opportunity to win a total of $50,000. The competition was powered by Operation HOPE and Shopify, with PayPal serving as the title sponsor.
Following a nationwide competition, the 2nd annual 1MBB pitch finalists were:
- Kalene McElveen, owner of Tastefull Vegan Frozen Desserts, won the Pitch Competition, a $2,500 grant from Shopify and $15,000 from PayPal
- Jazmin Richards, founder and CE) of BLK Sunflower, won a $2,500 grant from Shopify and $10,000 from PayPal
- Joshua Dixon, founder and designer of Admire Wear , won a $2,500 grant from Shopify and $8,000 from PayPal
- Stacy Howell, owner of Woodhouse Spa, won a $2,500 grant from Shopify and $7,000 from PayPal.
“The HOPE Global Forums has emerged as a people-driven movement with the goal of changing how we all view the world,” Bryant added. “This is part of what I call the ‘Third Reconstruction,’ which is about transitioning from civil rights in the streets… to silver dollars in the suites. I’m grateful to every employee, attendee, partner, culture creator, and thought leader who helped make this year’s event a success. Together, we can reset everything and re-imagine a future that truly bridges the divide.”
HOPE Global Forums’ sponsors include Wells Fargo, Truist, and Huntington Bank, among others. Full video replays of each session are available on the HOPE Global Forums website, YouTube and Facebook. Short session highlights are available on Instagram.
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 2016 Innovator of the Year recognition by American Banker magazine, Operation HOPE has served more than 4 million individuals and directed more than $3.2 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: www.OperationHOPE.org. Follow the HOPE conversation on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.