WASHINGTON (10/23/13)--Hope CU President/CEO William Bynum was named the winner of the 2013 Aspen Institute's John P. McNulty Award for innovation and leadership in social entrepreneurship.
Bynum is co-founder of the Jackson, Miss.-based cooperative.
"Our goal is to ensure that hardworking people have access to the tools they need to buy homes, start businesses, educate their children and otherwise support their families regardless of their station in life," said Bynum. "Hopelessness in a community is when there isn't a clear path to a better future. At HOPE, we provide a vehicle for people to work together and boost each other up to that next rung on the economic ladder."
Bynum, who has advised Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama on community development issues, founded Hope CU in 1995 with Aspen Institute fellow Henry Crown. The cooperative provides financial services to impoverished communities throughout the south, with branches in Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Tennessee.
After the global financial meltdown of 2008 caused credit markets around the country to contract significantly, Hope expanded from three to 15 branches and increased its membership by over a factor of three--from 9,000 to 28,000. It closed more than 7,200 mortgages, and small business and consumer loans worth over $260 million since 2008.
An example of the credit union's work, Hope launched a program in April 2011 to expand access to fresh food in blighted New Orleans neighborhoods by granting $14 million in forgivable, low-interest loans to supermarkets and grocery stores pledging to relocate (News Now April 4, 2011).
A panel of judges, including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, African diplomat Olara Otunnu and international development expert Brizio Biondi-Morra chose the 2013 winner.
Finishing runners-up to Hope were India Leadership Initiative Fellow Manoj Kumar, representing Araku Originals Ltd., Catto Fellow Adam Lowry of the Ocean Plastic Project in San Francisco, Calif., and Henry Crown Fellow Chinwe Onyeagoro of FundWell, also based in San Francisco.
Bynum, who was a finalist for the prize in 2008, will be honored at a reception in New York City on Nov. 6.