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5 Million Kids Campaign begins in L.A.

September 29, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Stressing the importance of a good education: Kids often hear the message, but high dropout rates are proof many just aren't following the advice. Tuesday, a national campaign got under way hoping to change that. Students are learning about ethics from Tom Lillig, a Bank of the West vice president volunteering his time in the classroom. It's part of Operation Hope's 5 Million Kids Initiative.

"Bank of the West partners with Operation Hope as one of other financial institutions, banks and insurance companies, real-estate people that come out and teach grade school through high-school level the principles of financial literacy," said Lillig.

Operation Hope kicked off its initiative at Bret Harte Preparatory Middle School in South L.A. Tuesday morning.

"Fifty percent of urban kids are dropping out of high school and 70 percent of black men are dropping out of high school, but we are focusing our resources in the major 10 inner cities in America, the urban core, the Chicagos -- we are starting here in Los Angeles," said John Hope Bryant, founder, Operation Hope.

Operation Hope officials say for more than a decade they have educated well over 400,000 students across America and in South Africa.

Now Operation Hope wants to take on this much bigger challenge of reaching 5 million kids. Under the program 25,000 volunteers are teaching dignity, financial literacy, entrepreneurship and more at targeted schools nationwide officials they're on a five-year quest to make education first.

"They're trying to reach 5 million children and to do that you do that, you do that en masse, but I think for most of these kids who are really in difficult situations they really need one on one attention," said Sara Sanders, a teacher at Bret Harte Preparatory Middle School.

"I'm very supportive of their efforts and I'm glad that their kickoff is in a district that is at a 5 percent decline this year in the dropout rate and an increase in the graduation rate," said Ramon Cortines, superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

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