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First Tennessee aims to help underserved population with financial education program


Outside First Tennessee bank’s downtown location.

Authored By Staff Report

First Tennessee leaders want the community to know about their Operation HOPE program, which provides services to low-and-moderate income people in the city’s underserved communities. The program has multiple services aimed at hoping those who are struggling financially. The programs include credit and money management workshops, one-on-one credit coaching and classes that teach people how to raise credit scores. Through these services, participants can learn the basics of creating a budget, how to read a credit report, and what can be done to correct errors that may negatively affect a credit rating, according to a news release. In Chattanooga’s Hispanic communities, financial responsibility is a great hurdle to overcome, First Tennessee leaders said in a news release. Because the U.S. has a complex banking and credit system, Operation HOPE recognizes the importance of providing the community with ways to learn to bank and spend responsibly, according to a news release. Ivelisse Perez, a financial well-being coach for Operation HOPE, addressed the issues that not only the Hispanic community in Chattanooga faces when it comes to financial literacy. “Most of the people that I see do not know how to read a credit report,” she said. “They want to purchase a house or a car, but do not know where to begin, so we are here to help them get started and get engaged in the process.” All of the services provided by Operation HOPE are designed to help participants understand credit scores, learn how to set up a budget, recover from debt and low credit ratings, and learn their rights as consumers so that they are not easily taken advantage of in the future. And while it might not be an easy process, all of these things are crucial in becoming financially stable – which is the end goal for all participants of Operation HOPE, officials said. “We are hoping to break the cycle of poverty within families in the Hispanic community,” Perez said. “If we can teach parents how to budget and better manage their finances through our offered programs, they will teach their children the same responsibilities and the importance of money management and hopefully, the cycle will break.” Operation HOPE not only serves the Hispanic community but is a service that is open to everyone looking to better their financial situation. “The work done by Operation HOPE and their counselors is transformational for so many in our community,” Chattanooga Market President Jeff Jackson said. “Financial literacy is achievable for anyone coming through this program.”