University of Pittsburgh
February 19, 2008

University of Pittsburgh Students Step in to Assist With Operation HOPE's Award-Winning Financial Literacy Program, Banking on Our Future

Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH-University of Pittsburgh students recently came to the rescue of the Los Angeles-based global nonprofit Operation HOPE, when more than 20 volunteers from several Pitt student groups stepped in to teach courses that were in danger of being canceled because of a lack of teachers. Since Feb. 4, the Pitt students have been delivering the four-week curriculum of Operation HOPE's award-winning financial literacy program, Banking on Our Future, to all of the students enrolled at Frick International Studies Academy Middle School-approximately 500 students and 10 percent of the program's 2008 goal for Pittsburgh.

The program was in jeopardy of being cancelled at Frick prior to Pitt's involvement, says Operation Hope's Pittsburgh program manager Bill Long. "With three weeks before the start date, I had 14 teaching vacancies. Panic was about to set in," he says. Thanks to the eagerness of the Pitt students, the program was able to easily fill the vacancies and provide extra teachers in a number of the classes.

Long says Pitt's involvement was sparked by the efforts and enthusiasm of students Ryan Renzi, of Pitt's Sigma Phi Epsilon chapter; Kristin Caiazzo, of Pitt's co-ed professional business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi chapter; and Bhaskara Ganti, of Pitt's Indian Sub-Continent Association.

"Unfortunately the media glamorizes over indulgence," says senior finance major Caiazzo. "Therefore, I feel strongly that children need to learn the fundamentals of saving at an early age."

"I think what Banking on Our Future is doing for these kids is really integral to their success as adults," says Samuel Brayer, Pitt biological sciences sophomore and a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon. "Also, this gives us an opportunity to reach out into the homes and make an impact on not only the kids, but also parents, getting them to start being a little bit more conscientious about how they are allocating their funds."

The Los Angeles-based global nonprofit Operation HOPE is a social investment organization providing financial literacy, credit counseling and management, computer training, lending services, and inspiration to the economically disadvantaged. Banking on Our Future is a financial literacy program that provides youth with the basic information and core skills necessary for building their financial futures. By linking local volunteers with neighborhood schools, youth are taught the basics of checking and savings accounts and the impact credit and investment can have in their lives.

For more information on the Banking on Our Future Pittsburgh Program, visit or contact Holly Heinrich at or