Operation HOPE's entrepreneurship and financial literacy programs aim to expand young people's economic opportunities and nurture their economic energy. Where available, national data reveal more effort is needed to maximize the entrepreneurial aspirations of youth.
ATLANTA, March 14, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Results from the 2015 Gallup-HOPE Index— a joint project between global financial dignity leader Operation HOPE, Inc. and Gallup, Inc. focused on measuring the economic energy of America's youth — are now available. Conducted by Gallup in the fourth quarter of 2015, the Gallup-HOPE Index is a nationally representative study of 1,001 U.S. students in grades 5-12. Students answered economic energy questions via a telephone survey.
The study results, first highlighted at the 2016 HOPE Global Forum Annual Meeting held Jan. 13-15, 2016, in Atlanta, suggest that America is failing to recognize and maximize the entrepreneurial talents and aspirations of its youth. The national data show that more than four in 10 youth plan to start their own business and believe they will invent something that changes the world. However, when asked about their current engagement in the economy, only 5% say they are currently interning with a local business, and just 3% say they run their own business now.
Similar to findings from previous years, the Gallup-HOPE Index indicates that less than half of all potential future business owners — today's students — are learning at school how to start and run a business. This is problematic, as the solution to today's "jobs problem" lies within business startups among America's next generation. The nation must support and nurture its students' entrepreneurial aspirations during their school years before they lose the desire to create and initiate something new. America's future depends more than ever on the success of its youth — requiring all students to realize and enabling them to unlock the full potential of their economic energy.
To address the lack of economic engagement among today's youth, Operation HOPE runs two youth empowerment programs: HOPE Business In A Box Academies (HBIABA) and Banking on Our Future (BOOF). When Gallup and Operation HOPE first discovered and reported the gap between the high economic aspirations and low economic opportunities of youth in the 2011 Gallup-HOPE Index, Operation HOPE committed to nurturing the economic energy of young people and to providing valuable opportunities to students to pave the way to their successful engagement in the economy.
To monitor Operation HOPE's intervention strategies in 2015, Gallup made the Gallup-Hope Index survey available to schools where Operation HOPE administers HBIABA and BOOF. In total, 5,750 HOPE students in 93 schools completed the survey. These HOPE students answered economic energy questions via a Web survey. While not directly comparable due to sampling and mode differences, the results begin to paint a picture of opportunities and improvement, including:
Seventy-nine percent of HOPE students plan to start their own business, but only 42% say that at the national level. Of HOPE students, 66% believe they will invent something that changes the world.
Fourteen percent of HOPE students say they have an internship at a local business, and 9% say they run their own business now. The national data reveal 5% and 3% of students, respectively, report these same things.
These data also provide a road map for areas of improvement, in particular, related to two key areas that can foster economic success: education and engagement with banking institutions.
Only 47% of students from the national study say that their school offers classes in how to start and run a business. In addition, in both studies, many students do not have bank accounts. Specifically, 33% of national students residing in households with an income of $36,000 or less claim to have a bank or credit union account with money in it.
Operation HOPE believes that by giving students the opportunity to express and nurture their pre-existing aspirations, they will be more likely to stay in school, graduate, succeed, lead dignified lives and enrich America's economy and communities.
My school offers classes in how to start and run a business.
Do you have a bank or credit union account with money in it?
Are you currently interning with a local business?
Have either of your parents or guardians ever started a business?
Do you run your own business now?
* National sample: N = 1,001; representative sample of U.S. students in grades 5-12 ** HOPE sample: N = 93 HOPE Schools; sample of HOPE School students in grades 4-12
 Note: The national poll is conducted via telephone, while the HOPE School poll is conducted via Web. This may result in mode bias.  Note: The HOPE School sample consists largely of lower-income and minority students in Title I schools across the country. Therefore, the results may be more robust than they initially appear when compared with the national sample. Similarly, where there is no increase from the national sample to the HOPE School sample, this suggests that the baseline for the HOPE School sample is lower than that for the national sample as a result of the lower-income, minority status of a majority of the respondents.