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Regions Bank and Operation Hope expand free financial education service to metro east

John Hope Bryant 072618 Operation Hope Finacial literacy offices in Regions Bank
Melody Walker|St. Louis Public Radio
John Hope Bryant, founder of Operation HOPE, is on a mission to spread financial literacy to low and middle income Americans and improve lives by improving credit scores.

Regions Bank and Operation HOPE on Thursday opened a HOPE Inside financial empowerment office in Belleville.

The office staffed by an Operation Hope financial counselor is located inside the Regions Bank branch at 4800 W. Main St.

HOPE Inside offers free financial education as well as credit and money management counseling to individuals, families and business owners. The services will be available to residents with low to middle incomes in metro-east communities. It is not required to be a customer of Regions, or any bank, to receive services.

Operation HOPE has opened more than 100 HOPE Inside offices with partners around the U.S. The Atlanta-based nonprofit’s goal is to have 1,000 locations by 2020. The counseling services can be found in 40 different banks, grocery stores, retail stores and community organizations.

“We are staging an assault on positive community building,” said John Hope Bryant, Operation HOPE founder, chairman, and CEO at the opening ceremonies held at the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Community Center in East St. Louis.

“Our vision is to create a stronger, more inclusive economy through financial empowerment – and financial dignity,” he said. “Imagine the difference this will make when people improve their credit scores by 100 points or more. Think about the impact on families and communities as more people – and more local businesses – succeed.”

Regions Bank initiated its partnership in Missouri with Operation HOPE in 2014 following the police shooting and death of Michael Brown in Ferguson.

“We wanted to find a way to do something positive with the community,” said Mike Hart, Midwest market executive for the bank.

HOPE Inside offices were opened in two bank branches in Ferguson and one in Jennings in 2015.

“We have seen lives changed,” said Hart. “I am confident the benefits we have seen in Missouri and elsewhere will also be seen in the metro east as local families and business owners are given the insights, advice and guidance they need to grow and prosper financially.”

Ryan Moore, a certified financial wellbeing coach from Operation HOPE, will meet with people seeking financial education at the Belleville Regions Bank and other metro-east locations based on client and community needs.

“HOPE Inside helps people learn how to make sound financial decisions and create a personalized roadmap toward achieving their dreams,” Moore said.

Moore’s areas of focus include helping people improve their credit scores, understand and use credit wisely, strengthen their overall financial management skills and become better prepared to achieve homeownership, avoid foreclosure or reach other financial goals.

For small-business owners, HOPE Inside offers entrepreneurial training covering issues ranging from accounting and financial management to marketing, business plan development and more.

Follow Melody on Twitter @melodybird