Brighter Futures Begin with HOPE.

HOPE Matters: December 2019


New Program Launched to Attract Healthy Food Retailer to Food Desert in Louisiana
A new program launched in Baton Rouge, La., will expand access to healthy food in an area currently designated a food desert. HOPE recently joined Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome to announce the program that seeks to bring more healthy food options to North Baton Rouge, while addressing the continued investment and revitalization of the area. “When I campaigned for this office, I promised to focus on food deserts throughout our community,” said Mayor Broome, who was joined at the news conference by HOPE CEO Bill Bynum. “This effort has been talked about for years, and today, we are moving forward.” HOPE’s role includes hiring a full-time commercial loan officer based in Baton  Rouge to support the implementation of the program. Other partners in the initiative include, The Food Trust, Baton Rouge North Economic Development District, Baton Rouge Area Chamber, East Baton Rouge Metro Council, Build Baton Rouge, and Healthy Baton Rouge. Learn more about the program here.


HOPE Releases Blueprint for Fostering Community Development in Areas Served by CDFIs and HBCUs
HOPE recently released the findings of a first-of-its-kind collaboration between historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and community development financial institutions (CDFIs) in the Deep South. The HBCU-CDFI Economic Mobility Guide outlines key outcomes from the collaboration to address conditions associated with persistent and concentrated poverty in both rural and urban areas. The guide includes project plans related to business development, healthy food access and affordable housing, and informs future efforts to form HBCU-CDFI partnerships across the nation.

For more information about projects and lessons learned, visit The CDFI-HBCU Economic Mobility Strategy Guide webpage.


HOPE Joins National Advisory Council of the E Pluribus Unum Initiative Seeking to Dismantle Race
and Class Barriers to Opportunity in America
Former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu recently launched the E Pluribus Unum initiative with the release of its first report, Divided by Design: Findings from the American South. The findings on how residents of the American South experience issues of race and class in their communities follows nearly a year-long qualitative and quantitative research phase in which the E Pluribus Unum team traveled to 28 communities across 13 states. Incubated at Emerson Collective and led by Landrieu, E Pluribus Unum is an initiative created to fulfill America’s promise of justice and opportunity for all by breaking down the barriers that divide us by race and class. HOPE CEO Bill Bynum joined several national leaders who comprise the initiative’s advisory board. Learn more here.


Construction Underway on Museum Project That Expands Access to Educational Programs
in East Mississippi and West Alabama
Construction is underway on the Mississippi Children’s Museum – Meridian (MCM-Meridian), a 25,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility that features indoor and outdoor exhibit space. As a financing partner, HOPE joined leaders from the community, government officials, MCM-Meridian and MCM representatives, and most importantly, local children, as they used their shovels to break ground during a recent ceremony.  MCM-Meridian is expected to open in early 2021; and upon opening, is planning to welcome over 51,000 visitors a year with a roughly $9 million-dollar economic impact on the community. Learn more here.


Give the Gift of HOPE This Holiday Season!
During this holiday season, we invite friends to “Give the Gift of HOPE” by making a donation as a gift on behalf of someone who has made a difference in their life. When you donate between now and the end of the year, you can choose to make your donation on behalf of a loved one, friend or colleague. The HOPE team will send both you and your honoree an acknowledgment of your gift and a limited edition, environmentally friendly cork HOPE coaster as a keepsake. In addition to supporting HOPE to empower more families and communities with critical financial tools, you will give the gift of HOPE by inviting another into this impactful work.


HOPE Expands Access to Capital for Diverse Entrepreneurs with New VP of Small Business Lending
HOPE has tapped Ralph Brown as its new Vice President of Small Business Lending, a position created to advance work in expanding access to capital for entrepreneurs across the Deep South region. In his new role, Brown will oversee small business loan production and portfolio performance that includes underwriting, approval, closing, and servicing of loans less than $100,000. One of Brown’s primary responsibilities will be expanding access to capital for entrepreneurs who have traditionally had limited access, such as women and people of color. HOPE is a partner in the Wells Fargo Works for Small Business®: Diverse Community Capital (DCC) program, a collaboration to empower diverse small business owners with greater access to capital and training and to spark small business growth across the country.


The First 25 Years…A History of HOPE
Twenty-five years ago, Hope Enterprise Corporation emerged to help strengthen economically distressed communities by braiding together the necessary resources to provide equitable access to quality, affordable financial services. As we continue to commemorate HOPE’s Silver Anniversary, we offer HOPE: The Evolution of a Community Development Organization, as a retrospective of a quarter century of HOPE’s partnership with the people and places in the region we serve.



HOPE Policy Institute Delivers Calls for Consumer Protection/Fair Housing on the National Stage

In her keynote address at the Maine Consumer Financial Protection Summit, Hope Policy Institute Director Diane Standaert highlighted the overarching challenges to closing the wealth gap, both in the Deep South and across the country.  Standaert discussed trends that show how predatory lending and increasingly unsustainable debt, such as student loan debt, are threatening to widen the wealth gap for generations, and why our collective strength is necessary to advance policy reforms to ensure economic opportunity for all. Her full remarks are available here.

On the other side of the country, policy analyst, Kiyadh Burt, joined leaders from three NeighborWorks organizations and the Annie E. Casey Foundation at the Training Institute Symposium: Expanding Financial Opportunity: Catapulting Communities Forward. In his comments, Burt shared data on racial disparities in mortgage lending in the Deep South and lifted up solutions that expand access to financial services as a critical tool for advancing economic mobility for people of color in persistently poor parts of the United States.



HOPE Submits Formal Comment Opposing Efforts to Weaken the Fair Housing Act
HOPE recently submitted a formal comment to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), opposing its proposal to significantly weaken the Fair Housing Act.  Submitting these comments is consistent with HOPE’s long-standing support for fair housing policies and practices, and in particular, HOPE’s defense of the disparate impact analysis as a necessary means for enforcing the Fair Housing Act.

Read the full comment submission.
Read HOPE’s Op-Ed in The Clarion-Ledger newspaper.


New Report Charts Path for Ending Persistent Poverty in America
Since 2014, HOPE has collaborated with several community development finance institutions (CDFIs) across the country to eradicate poverty in rural areas. This collaboration, known as Partners for Rural Transformation, is a coalition of six CDFIs located in and serving regions with a high prevalence of persistent poverty, which is any county that has experienced poverty rates of at least 20% for 30 years. In a recently published report, Transforming Persistent Poverty in America: How Community Development Financial Institutions Drive Economic Opportunity, Partners for Rural Transformation find that persistent poverty counties lag behind national rates of unemployment, banking status, and health outcomes. Read more here.


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