Do Black Lives Matter in Education?

Do Black Lives Matter in Education?

YES – Black Lives Matter in Education. What does that mean to us at Hope Academy?

Imagine only seeing your reflection in a dirty, broken, warped mirror your entire life. You would not have a true picture of your appearance. You may even believe that you have freckles on your face, when in fact, you do not. You may think that your hair had a grey tint to it, only to have others tell you that it is not the case. The world gives us a broken mirror just like that to see ourselves in.

At Hope Academy, we strive to bring the clear, true mirror in front of our students. That true mirror is God’s Word to show them who they really are. From the very beginning of time, God made clear that mankind was made in His very image.

Genesis 1:27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (ESV)

This fact is extremely important for our students to understand, because everything flows from this truth. We believe in teaching our students about God’s glorious design in the creation of humanity, through the doctrine of the Imago Dei, being made in the image of God. We are not shy in reinforcing these truths about who they are, because the world outside will try to deceive them.

We were made by God, in His image, and for His glory. This truth is crucial to how we teach our children in every subject. It is vital for our teachers and staff to believe this truth, so that our students will learn to believe this about themselves. There is no higher praise one can be given, than to be told that the Creator of the universe made them purposefully, uniquely, beautifully – to display Himself. Portraying God’s design can be seen from the outer body, which is why we instill the importance of how we chose to present ourselves to those around us. As well as our inner-self, our character is on display in how we treat others and behave in life.

In our classrooms, we use Scripture to replace that damaged mirror. Using the very Word of God, who made them, we show our students His purpose for them. We reinforce those truths, to our students consistently, through their time at Hope Academy, in every area of study. Our students are taught that in everything they do, that they are to do it as unto the Lord. When they can see themselves rightly, with a confidence in the purpose and design of the Sovereign Creator, they excel.

Black Lives Matter at Hope Academy, because they matter to the God who made them in His image. Due to the competing voices in society today and the battlelines drawn in the church, we stand on God’s Word and teach from what He says. We will proclaim from the rooftops, every street corner, and every mountain top, “Black lives matter to God! Black lives matter to us!”

When Education is a Privilege not a Right

When Education is a Privilege not a Right

Minnesota has a discouraging amount of food deserts, homelessness, and unemployment, but is also sadly close to leading the entire country in all areas of racial disparities. (more sources below) When housing, food, clothing, and mere survival are the daily struggle for a family, deciding on the best education for children -especially for families who are in poverty- can fall off the radar. So when education is wrongly deemed a privilege rather than a basic human right, how do we help?

Hope Academy is well aware of the realities facing some of our students. Through our Family Ministry efforts, Hope Academy provides Family Support Resources to help parents through difficult life challenges  like, job changes, food assistance, housing, etc. These basic needs of our families are very important to us. We want to help families become stable and successful and to one day escape the negative effects of generational poverty. . We believe that showing families that we are concerned about every area of their lives helps to strengthen our partnership and relationship. And while we provide a safe, nurturing and consistent place for children to be successful in school, we want the entire family unit to be victorious. (In fact, our teachers even do home visits each year to get to know families and their students better!) Once the basic needs of life begin to be adequately addressed, , then the focus on schooling can become much more feasible. .

Over the years, if a student continues their education at Hope Academy, those relationships between the school and families only deepens. Additionally, as students get closer to graduation,  the possibility of attending a college or university comes into view. Unfortunately, families that are lower-income may look at the high price tag for college and all the hoops that must be jumped through, and wrongly determine  that college is not an option for them. They often  do not know what a FASFA is or the resources that are available such as grants and scholarships, to help lessen or lift the financial burden of a college education.

But this is where the relationship between families and Hope Academy comes into play again. Through our College and Career Ministry, we guide students through the application process. We walk with families along each step of the way to make the process seem less daunting. Secondary education, such as community college or university can be a possibility to most every student and the lack of understanding for how the procedures work should not keep anyone from trying.

We believe that educating under-resourced and inner-city image-bears is a great privilege. In fact, we count it all joy to serve these wonderful families and help them foster a growing hope in God!

Come check out the Hope Academy difference in education.

Marked by Hope

Hi, my name is Mandi, and my daughters are in second grade at Hope Academy. I can’t tell you how much relief, stability, and joy this school has brought to our lives.

As a single mom, I work and pray really hard to make our tuition payment each month. And then there’s you–Hope’s supporters.

Your gifts make it possible for my daughters to get a top-quality, Christ-centered education, regardless of where they were born, how much money we have, or the color of our skin.

I want you to know 7 ways your gift changes our lives, and invite you to consider making a tax-deductible, year-end gift to Hope Academy so more children can have this opportunity:

  1. Christ-centered education anchors and guides us.
  2. Teachers make us feel loved and seen.
  3. Hope Academy’s community strengthens families.
  4. You are opening doors for my girls’ futures.
  5. Discipline targets the heart.
  6. Hope’s partnership empowers parents.
  7. Your gifts are turning the tide for low-income families.

If you haven’t made a gift this year, would you consider what you can do to provide children in the inner-city with access to a high-quality, Christ-centered education? Dozens of students still need financial sponsors this school year.

Click here to make a gift, or to see how you can make a difference in families like mine.

With heartfelt gratitude,

Mandi Cardwell

Hope Academy Mom

The Foolishness of God

When God finally moved my heart to start a school for my neighbors, I had no idea what he had in store.

I thought maybe we’d try it for a year or two. Or if God really blessed us, we’d grow from 35 students to 180 urban youth. I got used to hearing, “Russ, you’re an idiot!”

And, in a sense, I was. I moved my family to “Murderapolis.” I quit my job, with a wife and three children to feed. My friend Jeff and I started a school, with no formal education training.

But 18 years and hundreds of faithful helpers later, look what God has done. Our latest Annual Report is a true testament that, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26):

  • 474 urban youth receiving a remarkable, God-centered education (p. 4).
  • $1 million dollars in college scholarships for our 2017 graduates–some the first in their family to graduate from high school (p. 15).
  • Students who face adversity grasping “what true love really looks like” (p. 5).
  • God transforming families, through Hope (p. 9).

During the last 18 years, I’ve grown especially fond of 1 Corinthians 1:25 & 27 which say, “the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom,” and that “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise.” In a world that says, “God is foolish,” we say the “foolishness” of God is exactly what we need.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned on this journey, it’s that faith may not always make sense–but obedience to God is always worth it. May you be encouraged to follow God’s promptings today.

With joy,

Russ's signature

Russ Gregg
Co-Founder & Head of School

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Online K-12 VS Private School: Which is better?

With the global rise of access to the internet, opportunities for online education have increased. There are many valid reasons why a virtual school may be of value to some families, such as struggles with bullying, family schedules that are not conducive to traditional school, or limited access to desired programs. In Minnesota there are free online school options available to residents.

Virtual schooling may provide some form of flexibility that families find valuable, but there can be an unforeseen drawback to the lack of personal contact and face-to-face interactions. The lack of personal interaction with staff and teachers who care about the outcome of the student’s education and faith, as well as the success of the entire family unit is an important piece of education that is missing.

At Hope Academy, we believe that the forming of a child’s character is a large part of the educational process. Our goal is to teach the whole child, which necessarily includes maturing in godly character, and that cannot be ascertained through the results of a test. Godly character cannot be fully learned through videos or textbooks; it must be modeled.

Rick Weissbourd, author of the book, “The Vulnerable Child” and a lecturer at Harvard Graduate School of Education explains teacher and student relationships this way, “In these relationships, moral qualities are shaped. Adults do not simply transmit moral qualities and beliefs to children. These qualities and beliefs emerge and continually evolve in the wide array of relationships that every child has with both adults and peers starting nearly at birth, and in children’s felt knowledge of what is harmful, true, or right. In these relationships, children continually sort out, for example, what they owe others, what they should stand for, what traditions are worth keeping, whether to follow rules, how to contribute to their family, classroom, and community—in other words, how to be a decent human being.’”

Children learn how to live by watching those around them. Hope believes that through our shepherding-learning model, our students will be positively influenced to live a life in accordance with the Gospel of Christ.

What is lacking in an online K-12 education is the mentorship, relationship, and discipleship. At Hope Academy, we believe that this piece is crucial to the success of our students and their families. Our partnership with parents and seeing our students face-to-face, allows us to shepherd their lives in a way that is as unique as the students we teach.

Just as Jesus walked with his disciples, all the while teaching them – we desire to do the same with our students and their families. To see the educational difference that Hope Academy provides, come to our open house, schedule an admission tour or a shadow visit. We’d love to meet you!

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Closing the Achievement Gap

Rising Above Education Standards

Driving down the streets of inner city Minneapolis, one can glimpse a multitude of ethnic groups. The same diversity that makes our city beautiful presents us with challenges that naturally occur when cultures cohabitate. With such a concentration of minorities, Hope Academy desires to do our best to help close the achievement gap, that affects many of our neighbors.

According to Wikipedia, “The achievement gap in the United States refers to the observed, persistent disparity in measures of educational performance among subgroups of U.S. students, especially groups defined by socioeconomic status (SES), race/ethnicity and gender.”

What that means is that specifically minority children are behind their peers in reading, math, and other subjects. Hope Academy believes Academically Disenfranchised, Culturally Diverse, and Economically Disadvantaged children matter, and therefore they deserve an education worthy of image bearers.

What tactics do we use help our students?

Hope classrooms are marked by discipline, high expectations, an extended school year, and standardized testing that informs the way we teach our students.

We keep our class sizes small, averaging only 20 students per classroom. We feel that strong teacher-student-parent relationships are vital to the successful outcome we are striving for.

Beginning in seventh grade at Hope Academy, students have their math and language courses in combined-gender classrooms — but almost all of our other core courses at Hope Academy happen in single-gender classrooms. We believe this helps reinforce serious study.

We provide a rigorous classical curriculum, including Latin, Music, Art, and P.E., as well as a mandatory four-week summer school program for our elementary and middle school grades.

Hope Academy also provides an Academic Support Center that is designed to help ensure that not a single student falls through the cracks.

Raising Standards of Expectations

At Hope Academy, we believe that our students can and will achieve what is required of them – which is why we place high standards on academic achievement, knowing that our students can reach the goals placed before them. Over 90% of Hope Academy High School students are at grade level in Math & Reading!

Our goal is that all graduates of Hope Academy would be prepared for college-level work. Students are required to take four years each of our six core courses: Humane Letters, Writing/Rhetoric/Speech/Drama, Bible, Science, Math, and Foreign Language. Additional academic courses contribute to the development of a solid classical liberal arts education, with offerings in physical fitness, health, music, art, and others.

Why Do We Care?

Hope Academy cares deeply about the success of the students and their families. Our efforts to close the achievement gap spring from our belief that every human being is created in the image of God is absolutely stunning in its majesty and grandeur, and its implications are weighty, almost beyond comprehension. We believe that no child should be warehoused, rather, our job is to do the really hard work of cultivating virtue and Christ-like character by shepherding students’ hearts.

We desire for our students to know the One of whom it is said, in Psalm 111:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!”

We desire that our students to be successful in ALL areas of their lives, especially the life to come!

To learn more about why we take education so seriously, we encourage you to read the text of Imago Dei Education: Bearing the Burden of My Neighbor’s Glory, a talk delivered recently by Russ Gregg, our Head of School.

To learn more about enrolling your child at Hope Academy, visit us.

To partner with us in closing the achievement gap, see our Growing Hope Campaign page.

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Family Ministry Resources

One of our biggest goals at Hope Academy, is to witness our students and their entire family living successful and faithful lives.

We understand that many of our families depend upon government programs to help make ends meet. We desire to help families thrive in the life skills necessary to no longer need programs, such as food stamps, Medicaid, and other government assistance.

See the infographic below to learn more about how we support our families. You can also learn more about our family support here.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming one of our families.

family resources infographic

Growing Hope Update: The Biggest Ribbon Cutting You’ve Ever Seen

By God’s amazing grace, Phase I of the Growing Hope Capital Campaign was completed on time and under budget.

Last week, we pulled out the biggest pair of scissors Hope Academy has ever seen, and hosted a Ribbon Cutting to celebrate our new science wing, computer lab, and 4th grade classrooms. Click to enjoy a snippet!

Lord-willing, this will not be the last time you see those scissors. In fact, we are hoping to use them 11 more times — once to christen Phase II of our Growing Hope expansion to make room for 250 more students, and 10 more times to celebrate the opening of 10 Hope Academy-style schools nationwide. We are trusting the Lord for the remaining $625,000 to make this possible.

To learn more about the Growing Hope Capital Campaign – or to join us in our efforts – see

Thank you to everyone who has had a hand in Growing Hope for urban youth. There has never been a better time for hope!

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The Best Private School or the Right School?

The decision to send a child to school is an important one, wrought with many small decisions along the way. Most parents or guardians do their research before making that momentous decision on which school(s) to apply to. Everyone wants to send their child to “the best private school”, but what if we told you that “the best school” is not always the right school for your child?

When looking at research comparing schools, articles are generally providing data collected from the school and students based on test scores, college data, and other sources. Niche is a website that devotes itself to helping users discover where they want to live and raise their family. The data that they collect also provides users with comparisons of K12 public and private schools and where they rank – according to data collected. Niche, like other K12 data gathering sites, uses this methodological system of rating school systems:

The 2018 Best Private K-12 Schools ranking is based on rigorous analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Education along with test scores, college data, and ratings collected from millions of Niche users. Additional data is also collected from schools directly.

It is an extensive data collection system that can help you learn some qualities that make up the best private schools, yet there are some elements of a child’s education that are not considered in the data, such as the distinctives at the right school that are not quantitative on a measurement scale.

Parental involvement is crucial to the success of the child.

Every student’s excellence is achieved through the partnership of parents and school faculty. When all parties are working toward the same goal, of the child’s success in education, everyone succeeds. At Hope Academy, we are serious about our commitment to you, as parents and the partnership that we share, thus we sign a covenant with parents to display that commitment.

Beyond test scores

The truly best private schools will educate the whole child — mind, body, and soul. That’s why we integrate God’s Word and his principles into every aspect of our students’ day. Hope Academy believes in equipping our students not only to do exceedingly well in the rigors of their education and in their earthly lives beyond school, but more importantly to prepare them for eternity. We, at Hope Academy, desire to shepherd our students in the wisdom and truth of the Scriptures.

“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgements and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” Romans 11:34-36 ESV

Character also matters

Test results matter, for the best private schools, when getting into a desired college or university. Degrees and experience matter when getting job or making a career change. Character matters in every area of life. We set high expectations of our students. We unashamedly follow through with those expectations and discipline. We desire to equip our students to academically achieve their goals, as well as working on areas of character that cannot be tested with paper and pencil.

Consistency is key

Double-standards can cause apathy or frustration in children, which is why we are just as concerned about the character of parents and teachers. We hold the standards the same across the board. We want our students to see godly character modeled throughout their life. We firmly believe in accountability in every area of education.

Ranking systems are beneficial in comparing prospective K12 private and public schools, but they do not reveal all that a school offers. There are much deeper and beneficial traits that a school can offer that cannot be collected through data reporting. Hope Academy’s unique qualities reach beyond those to work with you, the parent, to reach those goals that are beyond the ranking systems. Schedule a tour today to learn more.

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How to Find School Tuition Assistance

Paying for private school tuition can be difficult no matter a family’s level of income. There are many different ways to pay for and receive private school tuition assistance. Here are some options:

Personal Budget. Some families choose to make changes in their spending to find assistance within their own budget. Perhaps it means taking less or smaller vacations as a family. It could also look like the family driving a vehicle for longer than they typically did in the past. There are creative and different ways families may change their spending to accommodate the new expense of private school tuition.

Friends and Family. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and family friends are amazing at giving gifts for holidays, birthdays, or just because. Giving monetary gifts toward a child’s tuition is a viable option. Their generosity could turn into a significant contribution to the education of your child.

Specific School Assistance. Often private schools have tuition assistance available to their students. Whether it is like our family share option or our available scholarships – there are often times viable options within the walls of the school. Ask your school about tuition assistance!

National and State-Specific Assistance. In addition to the aforementioned areas, there are many options for private school tuition assistance nationwide and state specific. School and Student Services, run by the National Association of Independent Schools, helps parents walk through all the financial aspects of paying for private school tuition. You can use their site to apply for assistance with any of the schools you are applying to.

Fastweb, which many people use for college assistance searching, also provides information about national and regional assistance for K12 private school tuition.

Children’s Scholarship Fund lists grant, scholarship, and voucher opportunities by state for easy use.

Student and Family Loan. Sallie Mae offers low interest loans to families who need assistance in paying for their child’s K12 education. The application process is done online. They have loan options available with the current interest rates and no penalty for paying off a loan early. When other options are not available, for private school tuition assistance, this option may be beneficial to your family’s needs.

Although families can find it difficult to fund private school tuition, there are avenues of help available to cover some, if not all, of the cost. The ideas above are some of the ways that families have found assistance for their child’s K12 private school tuition.