HOPE Inside Macon-Bibb is living up to its name by giving low-income residents more than just hope: it’s providing financial literacy services that change lives. The nonprofit is a local initiative of HOPE International that operates out of the Buck Melton Community Center. It provides free credit and money management workshops as well as one-on-one coaching sessions. HOPE Inside Macon-Bibb County began serving residents last February when dozens of people registered for its inaugural workshops.
DeQuanis J. Harvey is HOPE Inside Macon-Bibb’s Financial Wellbeing Coach. He said the organization’s goal is create communities where the average credit score is at or above 700. In 2016, the organization served more than 850 residents.
At the workshops, experts teach budgeting; debt and savings management; understanding credit reports; consumer rights; how to settle accounts; how to dispute inaccurate information; and establishing and rebuilding a credit profile. During one-on-one sessions, Harvey said HOPE Inside Macon-Bibb County digs deeper. “…We take those topics a little further by actually working with the individual client at their level of understanding,” he said. “We even go as far as calling creditors with clients to work out payment options.”
Dr. James Lewis Bumpus is the director of the Macon-Bibb County Office of Small Business Affairs. He said HOPE Inside Macon-Bibb is vital to the county’s economic development. “When we demonstrate we have communities that trend towards credit scores of 700, the type of investments in our community changes drastically,” he said. “So, rather than having pawn shops and liquor stores by the dozens on one block, you have boutiques and upscale coffee shops and upscale retail, which is a very different kind of investment.
Harvey said the value of HOPE Inside Macon-Bibb County goes far beyond educating residents. “Bringing Operation HOPE to Macon-Bibb is vital to Macon’s Economic Development,” he said. “Not only are we creating smarter consumers who demand better products and services, but we are also creating homeowners, taxpayers, small business owners, and the list goes on. As more and more companies come to Macon to build and more and more homeowners and small business owners are created, I believe we will see a decline in crime as a direct correlation.”
Bibb County was introduced to HOPE International through the White House’s Strong Cities, Strong Communities program. HOPE Inside Macon-Bibb County was recognized at the 2016 HOPE Global Forums Annual Meeting in Atlanta last year and is offering complimentary registration to the 2017 HOPE Global Forum to be held in Atlanta on April 10-17. The Forum is a convener of community events that inspire innovation and thought leadership around an inclusive global economy, according to the HOPE Global Forums website. Those interested in attending the Forums should contact Dr. James Bumpus at 478-951-2192.
About Operation Hope:
The mission of Operation HOPE, Inc. (HOPE) is silver rights empowerment, making free enterprise work for everyone. We accomplish this through our work on the ground as the nonprofit private banker for the working poor, the underserved and struggling middle class. We achieve our mission by being the best-in-class provider of financial literacy empowerment for youth, financial capability for communities, and ultimately, financial dignity for all.