Like so much of God’s work, Hope Academy began with His calling of unlikely servants.

In 1998, two men — Russ Gregg and Jeff Bird — did not know one another.

That year, Jeff was in a Bible study when he heard a voice say, “you should start a school.” Jeff, a lawyer working in insurance, had never worked in education.The call continued, and Jeff spent a year praying, to discern if it was from the Lord.

That same year, Russ Gregg was working in administration in a Christian school in Edina, but he and his family lived here in the Philips neighborhood. He dreamed of one day starting a Christian school for his inner city neighbors, but thought God would use someone else.

In 1999, Russ and Jeff had a divine appointment, and shared their mutual call. They met for six weeks to discuss the vision for the school—but a friend warned Jeff that “an administrator would never take this risk.”

That same Sunday, September 13, 1999, Russ was in church. At the conclusion of this sermon on Romans 4:13-15, the pastor challenged the congregation to “venture something for God that is a little bit crazy.” Russ felt it was God’s word for him, and that to not take this step of faith would be disobedient. The next day, Russ called Jeff and said, “I quit my job. Let’s start this school.”

The next fall, Hope Academy began with just 35 students in grades K-2—and the rest is history.


2000 – Hope Academy opens its doors to 35 students in grades K-2 the education wing of Christ Church International at 3015 13th Ave S, Minneapolis, MN  55407.

2006 – Now with 115 students in grades K-7, Hope Academy moves to 2300 Chicago Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN  55404

2007 – A class of 11 8th graders graduate from Hope Academy’s only 8th grade graduating class.

2008 – Hope Academy adds a 9th grade, beginning the process of growing Hope Academy High School.

2012 – Hope Academy graduates its first ever senior class, with 100% being accepted into a 2- or 4-year college.


Our prayer is that God would have us serve more than 520 inner city students in grades K-12 by 2020. Our vision is to unleash kingdom citizens who work for justice, economic opportunity, racial harmony, hope for the family, and joy in the community. God sustains this vision through our Partners, who sponsor 90% of the cost to educate a student here at Hope. These individuals, businesses, churches and foundations share our vision of transforming our city one inner city student at a time. Will you help provide hope for the future?