Rebuilding America, rebuilding the middle class

A conversation with John Hope Bryant, founder, chairman, and CEO, Operation HOPE

Millions of Americans are in pain—physical, emotional, and financial. The COVID-19 pandemic has killed tens of thousands and businesses of all sizes have been shut down to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus, putting at least 30 million people out of work.

For those people who have lost their jobs or are hanging on paycheck-to-paycheck, a helping hand—not a handout—is the lifeline they need to stand up on what is still shaky ground.

Since 1992, the nonprofit Operation HOPE has been providing that help by equipping young people and adults with the tools and education to secure a better future while coaching them through life’s financial challenges.

Today, that mission includes HOPE Inside Disaster, a free program that helps men and women directly or indirectly impacted by disasters such as COVID-19 navigate all the financial assistance that is available to them in this crisis. The initiative is available to all, and also works in partnership with the American Red Cross and FEMA, which refer people in need of guidance.

In this episode of Work in Progress, John Hope Bryant, Operation Hope’s founder, chairman, and CEO, explains that in just three months, the initiative has helped 77,000 people.

“Today the average person’s calling us for five things. ‘My child needs to restructure their student loan. I need help modifying my mortgage. My husband needs help applying for the CARE Act. My cousin or sister needs help with the credit card company,'” according to Bryant.

“We’re going to help you. If you need to create a new budget for your household, we definitely will help you. We’re going to be your private banker. We’re going to be your backroom business management office. We’re going to be the Starbucks of financial inclusion and your family coach at no cost to you.”

“We have to build this country back together. Look at this as not just a problem, but an opportunity—culturally, spiritually, mentally, and physically and financially.”

Rebuilding America

Bryant tells me he has been working with the Trump Administration on what he calls “the new Marshall Plan”. “It is a multi-pronged strategy to create a bulletproof economy for the 21st century, which is internships, apprenticeships, education for all K through college.”

Bryant likens it to the G.I. Bill which gave returning World War II veterans assistance for education to upgrade their skills for the new economy. “That created the American middle class. This is going to be no different. There’s goi g to be a rebuilding of America. The government told you to shut down, so the government has a responsibility to make sure you have a bridge over these troubled waters.“

If you need assistance from HOPE Inside Disaster, the toll free number is 888-388-HOPE, or visit them online at

You can listen to the entire Work in Progress podcast with Bryant here or you can find it—and download it—wherever you get your podcasts.

Thanks for listening! And thanks for subscribing.

Episode 131: John Hope Bryant, Operation HOPE founder, chairman, and CEO
Host: Ramona Schindelheim, Editor-in-Chief, WorkingNation
Producer: Larry Buhl
Executive Producers: Joan Lynch, Melissa Panzer, and Ramona Schindelheim
Music: Composed by Lee Rosevere and licensed under CC by 4.0.

You can check out all the other podcasts at this link: Work in Progress podcasts