Financial literacy and empowerment nonprofit Operation HOPE launched a national campaign this month to reduce the high school drop-out epidemic and create a holistic way of thinking about education.
Five Million Kids (5MK) National Co-chairs, music icon Quincy Jones and Ambassador Andrew Young, QD3, 5MK Celebrity Ambassadors actor/singer Tyrese Gibson, and several others showed up at the Bret Harte Preparatory Middle School in Los Angeles in late September for a kick-off event, in an effort in bringing attention to the value of learning.
"Statistics show that one child in America is dropping out of school every 26 seconds. HOPE believes the drop out epidemic is ultimately a huge drag on the American economy. It is critically important that we change the cultural tide and Make Smart Cool and Sexy," said HOPE Founder, Chairman and CEO John Hope Bryant. "At the core of the 5MK is a national campaign to re-brand education in the minds and hearts of young people. The 5MK initiative will teach five million kids, their parents and teachers how to get rich legally through financial literacy, the language of money, free enterprise capitalism, and ownership."
The morning started, as some 1,200 students and more than 200 leaders and luminaries, filed into the school auditorium wearing 5MK t-shirts and wristbands, anxious to learn how they could benefit from the program. The day's activities included four unique activities with celebrities, government leaders, and education officials to engage in and discuss the program.
During the rally, students and invited guests were treated to an address by Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas, Vice Admiral David Brewer, and Dr. Rev. Cecil "Chip" Murray, emceed by KDAY radio personality Devi Dev. It received rousing cheers from the audience.
During the lunch hour, a Fireside Chat was hosted by co-chair Andrew Young, while dialogued about education and the impact that high school drop outs have on the economy.
Guests were invited to observe four focal classroom sessions. Featured were: iHOPE, Dignity, BOOF.org, AIMP learning, or a standard youth financial literacy Banking on Our Future session. And to close out the day's activities, entertainment legend Quincy Jones, Robert Davi, QD3, and Tyrese were on stage as John Bryant debuted the Banking on Our Future: Celebrity edition, Quincy Jones' curriculum, as the first of many slated to be produced.
Additionally, QD3 talked to the students about digital empowerment and profit through iHOPE. Designed by Tech2000, the program prepares kids to become certified Apple programmers with the ability to sell their applications through Apple's web store.
Closing out the event were former B2K members, Boog & Fizz.
Through 5MK, the organization's five year plan intends to:
- launch a 5% Movement, working to get the percentage of role models in our urban communities up to 5% or higher by placing a minimum of 25,000 volunteers in the classroom.
- partner with community based organizations and financial institutions to open Starter Savings Accounts for the youth.
- secure $50 million in Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) for parents, teachers and adults.
- open 50,000 new bank accounts for the unbanked and under-banked using the proceeds of their EITC benefits.
- produce 5,000 iHOPE Program graduates
- recruit 5,000 grassroots leaders
The launch is just the beginning for the organization. Afterwards, HOPE will continue to work with LAUSD to fulfill their pledge to Bret Harte and partners to attack this issue and, ultimately, aim to have a positive effect on the high school dropout rate nationwide.
In the next five years the program will launch nationwide and be implemented in cities throughout the U.S.
For more info, visit them online at 5MK.org.