Center Offers Combined Credit Counsel, Special Help, Banking Services

Center Offers Combined Credit Counsel, Special Help, Banking Services



SHARE THIS ARTICLE

Oakland, CA–(HISPANIC PR WIRE – BUSINESS WIRE)–January 13, 2005–Operation HOPE, Inc. and Bank of the West and SBC Communications, Inc., in cooperation with other supporters, today celebrated the opening of a financial services hybrid facility unique in Northern California. The new Bank of the West Fruitvale Branch/ Hope Center in Oakland’s Fruitvale Shopping Center provides not only traditional banking services and an ATM, but also offers financial literacy training, case management for those attempting to buy homes and qualify for credit, and counsel for would-be entrepreneurs. The event took place on Thursday, January 13, 2005 at 9 a.m. at 3062 East 9th Street, Oakland – just two blocks from the Transit Village and BART Station in the Fruitvale Shopping Center.

“Thanks to the vision and commitment of Bank of the West’s CEO Don J. McGrath, who serves on our national board of directors, Operation HOPE and Bank of the West, today start a public/private collaboration that could change the lives of tens of thousands of Californians,” said OHI founder, chairman and chief executive officer, John Bryant. “This is a model partnership for corporate America in the 21st Century.”

In addition to banking and financial counseling, the Fruitvale Branch/HOPE Center received a significant, six figure grant from the SBC Foundation, the philanthropic arm of SBC Communications, Inc., to establish a Cyber Cafe technology center. The Cyber Cafe will provide access to variety of digital literacy resources and services, including an Information Technology certification program, business management training for small business owners, Internet access, and other job training and education opportunities.

The Fruitvale Branch/HOPE Center opening was attended by Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi and aides to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who addressed a diverse crowd of bankers, social services professionals and community activists.

Bank of the West Vice Chairman Frank Bonetto also addressed the group, saying that the bank is proud to be a stimulus to revitalization in the Fruitvale District, whose population is more than 90% Latino, black and Asian, with an average household income of $36,000.

“Bank of the West recognizes that healthy personal finances are the foundation for healthy communities,” Bonetto said. “Yet we face a woeful lack of knowledge on the part of many would-be customers and entrepreneurs – and Operation HOPE brings considerable expertise to the task of fostering financial literacy and empowerment.”

Other major supporters of the new facility are Far East National Bank, Inc., United Commercial Bank, and Charles Schwab.

About Operation HOPE

Operation HOPE, Inc. (OHI) is America’s first nonprofit social investment bank and a national provider of financial literacy and economic empowerment programs. Through ongoing collaborations and long-term partnerships with leading government, private sector, and community interests, OHI works to bring self-sufficiency and a sustained spirit of revitalization to America’s inner-city communities. OHI’s HOPE Centers, a growing network of inner-city banking centers, have created more than 800 new homeowners and small business owners, more than $125 million in funded loans, and more than $210 million in commitments for homeownership and small business loans from their 250 bank and corporate partners. In partnership with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and a network of private and community partners, OHI’s HOPE Coalition America has provided free financial counseling and casework services to Americans affected by natural disasters and national emergencies in 125 cities in 35 states to date. Taken together, these programs make Operation HOPE the national leader in economic empowerment tools and services for the under-served in America. OHI and its programs can be found online at http://www.operationhope.org, http://www.bankingonourfuture.org, and http://www.hopecoalitionamerica.org.

About Bank of the West

Bank of the West is the third-largest commercial bank based in California, with assets of $40 billion and 480 banking locations in 16 Western and Midwestern states. The bank is in its fourth year of a 10-year plan to lend, invest and contribute $30 billion to individuals, nonprofits and businesses in low- and moderate-income communities. More than half of that amount has already been achieved.

About SBC Foundation

The SBC Foundation is the charitable giving arm of SBC Communications Inc. The SBC Foundation supports efforts that enrich and strengthen diverse communities nationwide, particularly those with an emphasis on education and technology and those that benefit underserved populations. SBC Foundation backed programs are designed to increase access to information technologies, broaden technology training and professional skills development, and effectively integrate new technologies to enhance education and economic development. The Foundation Center has consistently ranked the SBC Foundation among the nation’s top six corporate foundations. In 2002, the SBC Foundation launched SBC Excelerator, a multimillion dollar competitive grants program that funds nonprofit organizations in their efforts to digitally connect communities.

–30–RJ/la*

CONTACT:

Operation HOPE, Inc.

Xavier Sibaja, 213-891-2908

or

Bank of the West

John Stafford, 925-942-8370

Center Offers Combined Credit Counsel, Special Help, Banking Services