businessman speaking at event

John Hope Bryant speaks at the East St. Louis event hosted by Regions on July 26. / TROY ANTHONY PHOTOS

Category: News

Free Financial Counseling Service Opens to Metro East Residents, Business Owners

HOPE Inside location at Regions Bank focuses on helping individuals, families and small-business owners take charge of their finances.

EAST ST. LOUIS and BELLEVILLE, Ill. – July 26, 2018 – Regions Bank and Operation HOPE on Thursday announced the opening of a HOPE Inside financial empowerment office that will provide free financial education as well as credit and money management counseling to individuals, families and business owners from across the Metro East and nearby communities.

“Financial education is a crucial part of helping a community prosper, and as this program empowers people to take charge of their finances, improve their credit scores and reach their financial goals, we can have a tremendous impact on the entire area,” said Gieta Beckmann, branch manager for Regions Bank in Belleville. “We have seen the success of Operation HOPE in cities across the country, and we are honored to bring this program to the Metro East. The result of our partnership is free, focused, one-on-one financial empowerment for anyone who wants it.”

Local HOPE Inside counseling will primarily be based at Regions’ branch at 4800 W. Main in Belleville due largely to available space at the facility and its central location. However, Ryan Moore, a certified financial wellbeing coach from Operation HOPE, will also deliver financial education at other Metro East locations based on client and community needs.

The announcement of HOPE Inside counseling was made at the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center in East St. Louis during an event hosted by Regions and featuring East St. Louis Mayor Emeka Jackson-Hicks. East St. Louis is among the locations in the Metro East where Regions maintains a branch presence and serves local clients.

“This partnership between Operation HOPE and Regions Bank is about leveling the playing field for people who are working to improve their credit, reduce their debt, manage their finances, and reach their long-term goals,” Jackson-Hicks said. “Counselors from HOPE Inside connect with people one-on-one. They identify with you. They understand how difficult financial challenges can be. And they have the experience needed to help you go from where you are today – to where you want to be in the future.”

Operation HOPE Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer John Hope Bryant has family connections to the Metro East. His mother grew up in East St. Louis. He is personally familiar with the financial challenges affecting people in various communities. He is committed to putting the resources and insights of Operation HOPE and Regions Bank to good use as the organizations work together to achieve a real, lasting impact on others.

“Our vision is to create a stronger, more inclusive economy through financial empowerment – and financial dignity,” Bryant said. “Imagine the difference this will make when people improve their credit scores by 100 points or more. Think about the impact on families and communities as more people – and more local businesses – succeed. And consider the new investments and jobs that come to communities where people are financially secure. We are proud to build on our long-term partnership with Regions, and we look forward to making a positive, meaningful difference for people throughout the Metro East.”

“We opened Regions’ first Midwest HOPE Inside office in St. Louis in 2015, and since then, we have seen lives changed,” added Mike Hart, St. Louis-area Market Executive for Regions Bank. “I am confident the benefits we have seen in Missouri and elsewhere will also be seen in the Metro East as local families and business owners are given the insights, advice and guidance they need to grow and prosper financially.”

Through the partnership between Regions and Operation HOPE, Regions is providing workspace facilities and operational support to enable Moore, the counselor from Operation HOPE, to meet with financial education clients. Passionate about empowering and educating people financially, Moore brings over 12 years of experience in the financial services industry to his role.

“We are here to welcome anyone who is interested in making financial progress,” said Moore. “HOPE Inside helps people learn how to make sound financial decisions and create a personalized roadmap toward achieving their dreams. Further, this program is here to help prospective business owners turn their ideas for a new company into reality. And we’re here to help existing business owners navigate the financial challenges a small company might face.”

Moore’s areas of focus include helping people improve their credit scores, understand and use credit wisely, strengthen their overall financial management skills and become better prepared to achieve homeownership, avoid foreclosure or reach other financial goals. For small-business owners, HOPE Inside offers entrepreneurial training covering issues ranging from accounting and financial management to marketing, business plan development and more.

People who are interested in HOPE counseling can contact Ryan Moore at 618-250-1412 or at [email protected]. Services are available to people regardless of whether they are Regions customers. The program is also available to people who have no bank account at all.

people at ribbon-cutting ceremony
Ribbon cutting on July 26.

Nationwide, HOPE Inside offices are literally “inside” financial institutions, retail stores, supermarkets and other community locations, allowing Operation HOPE to reach more people while cutting out the expensive overhead costs of running a financial education center.

Regions began partnering with HOPE in 2014 upon the establishment of a HOPE Inside office in the company’s headquarters city of Birmingham, Ala. The success of that location led to an expanded partnership that, in the coming years, will lead to a total of 100 HOPE Inside offices in Regions locations across the Southeast, Midwest and Texas.

The HOPE Inside model received the 2016 Innovator of the Year recognition by American Banker magazine. Nationwide, there are now over 100 locations and commitments for more than 600 new offices. According to Operation HOPE, each office holds consumer credit counseling certification, CFPB, FDIC, U.S. SBA, EITC, HUD, and FEMA applications and partnerships, and through HOPE Inside, Operation HOPE is the only organization certified by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council to operate within a bank.

About Regions Financial Corporation

Regions Financial Corporation (NYSE:RF), with $125 billion in assets, is a member of the S&P 500 Index and is one of the nation’s largest full-service providers of consumer and commercial banking, wealth management, and mortgage products and services. Regions serves customers across the South, Midwest and Texas, and through its subsidiary, Regions Bank, operates approximately 1,500 banking offices and 2,000 ATMs. Additional information about Regions and its full line of products and services can be found at

About Operation HOPE

Since 1992, Operation HOPE has been moving America from civil rights to “silver rights” with the mission of making free enterprise and capitalism work for the underserved – disrupting poverty for millions of low and moderate-income families across the nation. Through our community uplift model, HOPE Inside, which received the 2016 Innovator of the Year recognition by American Banker magazine, Operation HOPE has served more than 2.8 million individuals and directed more than $2.7 billion in economic activity into disenfranchised communities – turning check-cashing customers into banking customers, renters into homeowners, small business dreamers into small business owners, minimum wage workers into living wage consumers, and uncertain disaster victims into financially empowered disaster survivors. Project 5117 is our multi-year four-pronged approach to combating economic inequality that aims to improve financial literacy, increase business role models and business internships for youth in underserved communities, and stabilize the American dream by boosting FICO scores. Operation HOPE recently received its fourth consecutive 4-star charity rating for fiscal management and commitment to transparency and accountability by the prestigious nonprofit evaluator, Charity Navigator. For more information, visit You can also follow Operation HOPE on Twitter and Facebook @operationhope.