After witnessing the devastating Los Angeles riots of 1992, John Bryant was moved to action. Today, John is helping inner-city families get the financial education they need to get loans, start businesses, become homeowners, and achieve the dreams they thought were impossible.
From Homeless to Business Owner
Although John grew up in the slums of South Central Los Angeles, he was able to find financial success as a young man. However, poor business decisions made for a turbulent life — John went from living in a beach house in Malibu to living in his Jeep, homeless for six months. John was able to rebuild his life and create his own successful company— and yet he felt unfulfilled.
How it Began — Los Angeles Riots of 1992
In 1992 Los Angeles was the site of the largest riot in US history. South Central Los Angeles was left devastated financially and physically. John says, "The riots made me to want to make a contribution and give back to my own community."
John created Operation HOPE to bring capital into the inner city. Focusing primarily on low to moderate-income individual, Operation HOPE provides the financial education and assistance necessary to get home and small business loans.
The Solution — Create Hope and Ownership
Understanding the importance of having a home and operating a small business, John prides himself on the sign in the Operation HOPE banking center that says, "No Loan Denials." John says, "That sign immediately restores a person's hope, self-esteem and sense of self worth." John believes that as long as people are willing to work with Operation HOPE on improving their own financial situation, goals that once seemed out of reach are attainable.
Operation HOPE has given people a future they never dreamed possible. In addition to creating 400 new homeowners in South Central, East Los Angeles, and Watts, Operation HOPE has given home mortgages to more African American and Latinos making $35,000 or less than the top eight California banks combined according to the Greenlining Institute. With the equity earned on their houses, families can hope to send their children to college.
Operation Hope is also reaching out to the younger generations in the community. Through a program called "Banking on the Future," they've taught 69,000 kids in 300 schools the basics of managing their money, balancing a checkbook, creating a savings account and maintaining good credit.
"The peacefulness I get when I go to bed at night can't be purchased," says John. "I'm honored to do this work; I'm honored to be of service. And truly, the gift is to the giver."