APPROACH AND METHODOLOGY
In response to the May 2011 tornadoes, Operation HOPE commits to launch 'Start-Up State'--a program to ensure the effective distribution of government funds to disaster-stricken areas. The initiative will begin in Alabama and consist of two components: 1) raising awareness about government funds to affected communities, and 2) constructing a tactical team to provide financial guidance services to federal-fund recipients. The objective is not just to build Alabama back, but to build it back better.
A major element of this public and private sector collaborative is volunteers from Operations HOPE's corporate partners, government agencies, and community-based organizations. Volunteers will be trained by Operation HOPE staff, or through HOPE's computer-based Client and Volunteer Management System (CVMS), to provide individualized, financial guidance to federal-fund recipients. Individuals will be encouraged to become a volunteer, a HOPE Corps Member, by going to the Operation HOPE website and following the volunteer icon. The CVMS allows HOPE managers to review any client file and make client-tailored-training recommendations to volunteers. If a volunteer finds he/she is not equipped to assist the client, a HOPE employee can reassign the client or become the case manager.
IMPLEMENTATION, TIMELINE, AND DELIVERABLES
Phase I (June 2011 to September 2011) Operation HOPE to be formally invited into state of Alabama.
-HOPE to provide counseling via national call center.
-HOPE to provide on the ground survivor engagement via FEMA Disaster Recovery and State networks.
-HOPE to provide individual survivor financial case management, working particularly challenged, low-wealth communities, and cases needing more attention. This should include, but not be limited to, filing FEMA and Small Business Administration (SBA) claims, filing insurance claims, working with banking and other creditors to reset financial obligations.
Phase II (August 2011 to November 2011) Operation HOPE and FEMA to outreach to southern financial services community, including banks, credit unions, CPAs, financial planners, trade organizations, financial regulators for the purpose of:
- Engaging their leadership in the holistic, strategic response to helping disaster survivors.
- Engaging their local volunteers in the recovery effort.
- Creating local partners from the private sector.
- Scheduling joint workshops and seminars to help residents with the myriad of financial decisions coming their way.
- Helping survivors to complete the HOPE/FEMA-developed Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK). The Emergency Financial First Aid Kid is a simple tool designed to assist in maintaining financial stability in the event of an emergency. The EFFAK helps to identify and organize key financial records and provides a quick reference file for the most important financial documents. The EFFAK consists of the follow four integral sections: Personal Household Information; Professional Advisors and Health Care Providers; Checklist of Important Legal Documents and Financial Statements; and Private Security/Access Information.
Phase III (July 2011 to December 2011) Operation HOPE and FEMA to frame a positive discussion around instituting future, broad-based financial and economic preparedness change, including but not limited to:
- Encouraging cities and counties to amend residential, community planning to insure that future homes built include a re-enforced storm shelter.
- Encourage city and state leaders to provide each and every resident with a copy of the HOPE/FEMA EFFAK, and utilizing local volunteers from the local financial community to help every resident complete the EFFAK before the next disaster strikes.
As much as $1 billion ($200 million already encumbered as of August 2011) will come into the State of Alabama through December 2012, as a direct result of the recent May 2011 southern storms, with large portions flowing to individuals, families, and small businesses. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has an opportunity to not only help clean up after this disaster and get people back on their feet, but also to build a stronger community, and in particular Alabama's under-served communities, post-crises. Not back, but better.
Additionally, with a maximum payout at $30,200 from FEMA, $75,000 to $200,000 from the Small Business Association (SBA), and as much as $12,000 from Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in some cases, this sum could represent the largest single payment of cash to most individual survivors in their lifetime. Important questions that therefore arise are: What are the recipients going to do with these payouts? What counsel are they getting around critically important decisions they are making for themselves and their families? How can financial literacy empowerment tools and services be bundled and embedded with these various payments to survivors? Ultimately, how can proper mechanisms be put in place to encourage strategic spending in-line with building lives back, better?
Given the state of poverty and struggle of the working class in Alabama, this should be viewed as an opportunity for FEMA to help the state 'reset.' Or as was said after the Rodney King Riots in South Central, when Operation HOPE was founded, 'we should not be asking about 'back', but 'better'.' Operation HOPE and its 'Start-Up State' initiative aims to do just that.
SEEKING: Financial Resources, Implementing Partners, Media/Marketing Opportunities
Operation HOPE is seeking participating partners to provide financial and in-kind support, including printing services, office space, five-passanger vans, and local advertizing of the services provided by Operation HOPE.
A major partnership opportunity is employee volunteers to provide one-on-one, small group financial guidance to individuals requesting the services of Operation HOPE. Volunteers can also provide individualized assiatance from their office using the HOPE Client and Volunteer Mamagemant System, an online secured system.
HOPE is asking partners to commit for two years.
OFFERING: Best Practice Information, Media/Marketing Opportunities
Operation HOPE will provide semi-annual reports of the success of this initiative highlighting the best practices of participating partners via the HOPE website and in the HOPE E-News.