John Bryant understands the importance of good credit. As president of the first African American nonprofit investment banking organization in the country, he often speaks about economic empowerment as a necessary step to revitalizing a community.
On Wednesday, Bryant, who is president and chief executive officer of Operation Hope, and a group of fellow bankers announced a twofold project they hope will aid inner-city residents in controlling their finances. The group will market the first secured credit card aimed at helping South-Central residents start or improve their credit rating while providing them with an education on how to manage their personal finances.
The "Empowering Communities Starter Card" is the product of a partnership between Operation Hope, Founders National Bank, Orchard Bank in Portland, Ore., and Mastercard. The group also unveiled the "Banking on the Future Program," which will teach students in 6th through 12th grade how to manage their money. Bryant said the two projects are needed in the community.
"No one taught us the basics when we were growing up," the Compton native said as he stood outside Founders National Bank in South-Central. "The information age has made a right turn right around this community."
The secured card may be attractive to those who do not have a credit history or have a bad credit rating. For a minimum of $400, a person can open a savings account that secures an equal line of credit at an 18.9% interest rate. If the cardholder maintains a good credit rating for 18 months, the card becomes unsecured, meaning a savings account is not required and the interest rate drops to 15.9%. A portion of the money generated from the cards will go to Operation Hope.
Bryant said the credit card will also be available for small businesses and churches that might have trouble obtaining an unsecured card.
Carlton Jenkins, president of Founders National Bank, said the project of educating younger people and helping inner- city residents obtain credit is important because it "provides for people who have historically been deenied."