HOPE Matters: September 2019
NMTC Project to Expand STEM Education and Revitalizes Memphis Neighborhood
Work is underway in Tennessee on a project to convert former retail space into an updated STEM facility that will increase educational opportunities in the North Memphis/Frayser community. The $15 million project, located at 2200 Frayser Boulevard, will house a new facility for Memphis STEM Academy (MSA) and will feature new classrooms, state-of-the-art labs, a multipurpose room, a library and offices. The renovation is a New Markets Tax Credits deal financed by HOPE, SunTrust Community Capital, LLC, BlueHub Capital and Nonprofit Finance Fund. The expansion will support MSA’s mission to promote academic excellence and the future success of students through a focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. “Renovating this plaza removes another eyesore and offers an asset that any community would be proud of – a new high tech school for elementary children, a healthcare partnership that will be a blessing for Frayser families and retail values that are competitive with any Memphis community,” said the Rev. Anthony Anderson, CEO of Memphis Business Academy. “We are proud of these initiatives. We are grateful to all of our partners.”
Partnership with Land Trust Program Paves Path to Homeownership in New Orleans
Expanding homeownership access in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward is the focus of a program led by the Crescent City Community Land Trust (CCCLT). HOPE recently partnered with the organization as one of the qualified lenders for the program, which is a unique model that preserves affordability permanently and provides ongoing support for the homeowner. Over the next two to three years, CCCLT will build and sell homes throughout the city of New Orleans, including in neighborhoods of opportunity, where prices are rising and affordability is needed.
Anniversary Spotlight: Student-Led Branch Going Strong in Year 3
In 2017, HOPE’s Provine High School branch began operations as the only student-run credit union in Jackson, Miss., as a partnership with Jackson Public Schools and Alignment Jackson, a nonprofit organization focused on student achievement. Provine faculty, staff, and students 18 and older are eligible to open accounts at the on-campus branch, which operates two days a week. Students receive the same training as HOPE’s full-time staff, and gain hands-on experience with all facets of operating a financial institution, while building the financial capacity of Provine students, staff, and stakeholders. See this month’s WLBT news segment about the branch.
The Door to Opportunity
Marcos was unbanked for several months after arriving in the U.S. “Other banks required a Social Security number and when I came, I was awaiting my legal status. HOPE was an option for me,” he said. HOPE’s efforts to expand financial access in the immigrant community includes using alternative forms of identification, including individual taxpayer identification numbers that are assigned to immigrant residents.
Refill Cafe Offers At-Risk Youth Job Training with Financial Counseling Provided by HOPE
Refill Cafe is not your ordinary restaurant; it is a workforce and life skills training ground for at-risk young people in Jackson, Miss. Modeled after similar programs in New Orleans and other areas, Refill Cafe provides job training, soft skill development, social service support, educational support, mentoring, and employment services. HOPE provided financing for the building. HOPE also provides the financial education for the program’s participants. Recently, young people enrolled in the program visited a Hope Credit Union branch, where they received information about money management and opening accounts. Read more about the program in this Jackson Free Press article.
Advocates Gather to Tackle Persistent Poverty in Rural America
Eliminating the structural barriers that foster poverty in rural communities was the prevailing topic among leaders from across the nation that recently converged in Knoxville, Tenn., at the “Reclaiming Appalachia: Investing in Community, Cooperation and Change” conference sponsored by Fahe and NeighborWorks America. The event convened practitioners with local, regional, and national partners for planning, knowledge sharing and site visits. The forum built upon the 2017 HOPE in the Delta gathering hosted by HOPE. During the gathering, participants provided input on a discussion draft of a strategy paper that called for increased public and bank investment, strengthening the capacity of local CDFIs, support for research, and the establishment of a fund to close capital gaps in persistent poverty areas.
HOPE Provides Testimony during Mississippi Capitol Hearing on Mortgage Lending Disparities
The Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus recently held hearings at the state Capitol on mortgage lending denials for people of color. HOPE provided data and insights about the mortgage landscape in the state and the disproportionately high rate of denial for people of color. HOPE also highlighted its approach to and track record of working with homebuyers in the Deep South, particularly people of color and individuals who have experienced credit challenges. See more in The Clarion-Ledger article.
Changing the Way We Think About Poor Rural Communities: HOPE & FAHE Featured in Q-and-A in Shelterforce Magazine
Rural communities vary—by climate, geography, and often race. But in many other ways, they are far more similar than they are different. In her article for Shelterforce Magazine, writer Miriam Axel Lute spoke with HOPE CEO Bill Bynum and Jim King of Fahe about the work of the two organizations in the Mississippi Delta and Appalachia and the urgent need for investment in persistent poverty areas. See the article.