Sun Trust, Operation HOPE to devise financial literacy program for working poor, may teach entrepreneurship

By David Pendered

An interesting meeting is set for June 10, one that will bring elite bankers together with street-wise advocates of the working poor in order to help a low-wealth community in Atlanta.

John Hope Bryant speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in this undated photo. Credit: minnesota.publicradio.org

John Hope Bryant speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in this undated photo. Credit: minnesota.publicradio.org

The goal is to devise a program that will teach financial literacy to those who don’t live in a world where financial advisors reach out to them. There’s a chance that lessons in entrepreneurship may be in the curriculum that is to begin this autumn.

Sun Trust Banks and Operation HOPE are partnering to offer the program. It’s a way for Sun Trust to return to its roots of community building, and Operation HOPE already is a good partner, Sun Trust executive Dan Mahurin said Wednesday.

Operation HOPE’s CEO and founder, John Hope Bryant, said in a statement that the expanding relationship with Sun Trust will further enable the global non-profit to continue its mission of helping those who are financially disadvantaged to benefit from free enterprise.

Operation HOPE and Sun Trust have been partners since 2010 at Atlanta’s HOPE Center, which provides economic education and empowerment. The dignity center is located at Ebenezer Baptist Church, in the Martin Luther King, Sr. Community Resource Facility. Sun Trust provided a $1 million contribution to that program.

The new program is to be funded with an additional $1 million commitment from Sun Trust to Operation HOPE.

Dan Mahurin is Sun Trust's financial well-being executive, based in Orlando. Credit: Sun Trust

Dan Mahurin is Sun Trust’s financial well-being executive, based in Orlando. Credit: Sun Trust

The sum, which will be a combination of cash and in-kind contributions, will pay Operation HOPE to provide financial advisors who will work in one Sun Trust branch in Atlanta, and one branch in Memphis. The in-kind contribution involves the office space for the HOPE counselors.

The exact nature of the program, what Mahurin called its “curriculum,” hasn’t been determined. That’s part of the agenda of the June 10 meeting, said Mahurin, whose official title is financial well-being executive. The 42-year Sun Trust executive, who’s based in Orlando, previously served Sun Trust as president/CEO of the Gulf Coast/North Florida division. He started with the bank as a coin roller and teller, according to his biography with the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Mahurin did say that Sun Trust could support a component of entrepreneurship, especially if it could relate to similar programs offered elsewhere in metro Atlanta.

Both the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and Invest Atlanta, the city’s development arm, have established programs to foster those who are trying to start businesses. Invest Atlanta formed a non-profit entity in April, named Startup Atlanta, to serve as a central hub for new ventures and chose Bess Weyandt to serve as its executive director.

“Operation HOPE has experience in that and, if there’s a partnering opportunity, we’d love to find out more about it and how we could hitch on to that,” Mahurin said.

Mahurin said a site in Atlanta for the new program hasn’t been confirmed.

One possibility he mentioned is in Centennial Place, the mixed-income developed by the Atlanta Housing Authority at the site of the former Techwood Homes, near the Georgia Tech campus and the Coca Cola tower.

 

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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