Hope Global Forums brings together business leaders for financial education
Preaching a message of financial literacy and financial freedom, John Hope Bryant is mobilizing America’s top business leaders in the fight for “silver rights,” a term he coined to describe the economic empowerment of minority and low-income communities.
“I don’t know about you guys but I’m sick of being sick and tired,” Bryant said earlier this month during the Hope Global Forum, an annual gathering for him nonprofit Operation Hope. “Our goal is that by the time your children grow up, financial literacy in school – from kindergarten through college – will be a requirement so that everyone learns the language of money.”
To that end, in 2021 Operation Hope launched Financial Literacy for All, a joint initiative with companies like Walmart, Bank of America, Disney and many others.
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Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon, Co-Chair of Financial Literacy for All and other partners in the initiative Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian, PayPal President and CEO Dan Schulman, billionaire investor Tony Ressler and civil rights icon and former US Ambassador Andrew Young were among business leaders who joined Bryant on the stage at the Hope Global Forum in Atlanta to talk silver rights The power of financial literacy.
Financial literacy is “a fundamental issue”
Operation Hope founder and CEO John Hope Bryant, far right, speaks with (left to right) PayPal President and CEO Dan Schulman during a panel at the Hope Global Forums in Atlanta; Tony Ressler, CEO of Ares Management and majority owner of the Atlanta Hawks; and Doug McMillon, President and CEO of Walmart.
Photo credit: Operation Hope
“We want all of our employees to understand how they manage their money,” McMillon said during an exclusive interview with CNBC at the Hope Global Forums. “John Hope Bryant and I joined forces to found Financial Literacy for All to serve financial education.
“We think it’s a fundamental issue for families and for our country.”
In CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” Bryant described the event before the forums as “like the Davos for the working class, for the empowerment of the poor and underserved.”
“We have the power to make the economy work for everyone,” he said. “Many of the participants, the 4,000 delegates, are working-class people who have too much month at the end of their money.”
Operation Hope focuses on wealth inequality in the black community and communities of color and on bridging that gap. In the second quarter of 2022, the average white family was worth $1.27 million; compared to $316,000 for the average black family and $291,000 for the average Hispanic family, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
The nonprofit has also pledged to create 1 million new black-owned businesses by 2030. This is another path to economic empowerment and wealth creation.
said Bryant in case silver rights have to be the next step in the civil rights movement and the global social justice movement that was sparked after the killing of George Floyd.
“Social justice through an economic lens, you can do good and do good at the same time.”
“In order to be something, we often have to see it first”
With a possible looming recession, it’s important to demystify money problems and foster financial preparedness, Troy Millings and financial adviser Rashad Bilal of the Earn Your Leisure podcast told panellists. The duo has more than 1 million followers on Instagram, many of them new investors in the black and brown communities.
“To be something, we often have to see it first,” Millings said. “When people see us creating brokerage accounts and investing in entrepreneurship and starting businesses, they see it like this is an opportunity and we can do it.
“The mission is to educate people, but also to show them how it’s done.”
They promoted a long-term perspective on the value of financial literacy.
“Look in five, ten, 20 years,” said Bilal. “It will stop you from spending money recklessly, it will get you emergency funds, it will force you to save money for your retirement and your children’s education.”
During a fireside chat with Bryant, Bishop TD Jakes, senior pastor at Dallas-based megachurch The Potter’s House, spoke of the need for faith leaders to be prominent voices in both the civil rights and silver rights movements.
Jakes is a strong advocate of real estate investing, particularly by younger black Americans.
“Homeownership is my bible,” Jakes told CNBC before the fireside chat. “You can accumulate wealth in an appreciative asset.”
“The problem in our community is that we’re using up depreciable assets,” he said. “Young people today are not interested in home ownership because they want mobility.
“We’re not trying to fix you so you’re immobilized, we’re trying to fix you so you’re economically empowered and able to pass all your wealth on to your children.”