Hickory – Taking a cue from industry partners, Catawba Valley Community College is offering new financial literacy services for students to help them succeed at work and in life. Partnering with Operation Hope and Capital Bank, the college is offering students free programs to help them understand personal finance and improve their credit scores.

“A credit score is like an adult grade point average,” shared Rita Purvis, Financial Well-being Coach with Operation Hope Inside Capital Bank’s program at CVCC. “Raising a credit score from 500 to 700 is life changing. It makes it possible to qualify for a car or home, and can create stability for individuals and their families. We work to help them understand how to improve their credit score.”

On-the-job performance of CVCC graduates was the genesis of this new program.

“Employers told us our graduates absolutely have the skills,” said CVCC President Garrett D. Hinshaw. “What they sometimes lack are soft skills and other intangibles, like personal financial savvy. Our Center for Workforce Connectivity and Talent Development worked hard last year to design work-based learning for all programs to give students exposure to real world employment. This year, we brought in Operation Hope as a way to meet the financial IQ of our students and area employers.”

Students can choose from a variety of group information sessions scheduled this fall and spring semesters to learn more about how credit scores are calculated and how a higher score can save money and provide better opportunities. They also have the option of personal appointments to receive one-on-one coaching.

HOPE Inside, a unique financial empowerment model created by Operation HOPE to provide no-cost financial literacy coaching and education to participants through the support of financial and corporate partners, currently stands at more than 130 locations across the country. In 27 years, Operation HOPE has served more than 4 million individuals and directed over $3.2 billion in economic activity into disenfranchised communities—impacting 1,467 U.S. cities and towns. Through the HOPE 700 Credit Score Communities initiative, the focus of raising client FICO scores to 700 is at the foundation of all HOPE Inside programming. Seventy-two percent of HOPE clients improve their FICO scores—35-point average—after 5.4 months, and a recent Accenture analysis reveals that Operation HOPE improves FICO scores at 2-3 times the rate of its peers.