4 Ways Hope in God Made a Difference this School Year

If you’ve been around Hope Academy for any length of time, you’ve heard me say many times that “Hope in God changes everything.” To some of you, that may sound like a nice turn of phrase or a mere platitude.

But we all know that times of testing are revelatory, aren’t they? They’re an acid test that shows us what really matters. Especially tough times like this last year reveal whether hope in God is merely words on a page – or if faith makes all the difference.

While this year has been one of the hardest years in our 21-year history, it has also produced some of the most life-changing education that I’ve seen for inner-city youth. Let me share four ways that hope in God made a difference for the children of Hope Academy. Hope in God produced radical risk-taking, radical generosity, radical humility, and radical perseverance.

1. First, hope in God produced radical risk-taking. 

As most of us know, almost every school in our city cancelled in-person learning this last year—for the very children who needed in-person learning the most. Children who are already last in the country fell even further behind. Why was this? Ultimately, it was deemed to be too great a personal risk.

In contrast, Hope Academy staff acted like first responders who ran towards danger instead of running away from it. Hope in God enabled us to offer in-person learning to our students all year.

2. It also enabled radical generosity. 

God’s love enables us to do the most. If you’re like me, when trouble or difficulty comes my way, my natural inclination is to circle the wagons, do the least for others and become more protective of my own limited time and resources.

Let me tell you a story about the radical generosity of one of our teachers, Ms. Johnson. When we were forced to go to distance learning last March, one of our single parents struggled to support the at-home learning of her five children. Ms. Johnson saw the need, stepped up, and volunteered to provide respite care for two of the kids in her own home. This continued over the summer and into the fall. She provided a safe space in her home for the kids, taking them to parks and museums, and even including them in the daily chores.

Ms. Johnson’s respite care was a true lifeline for the family, helping them navigate some extreme challenges. Instead of kids falling through the cracks, kids were stabilized; and feeling safe, they have flourished this year.

And by the way, speaking of radical generosity, it was your generous giving that made it possible for others, like Ms. Johnson, to do the most this year. Thank you.

3. Third, hope in God has the power to create a radically humble and harmonious community in a polarizing environment.

Have we ever known a more hostile or contentious age than the one we’re in right now? But, if Jesus is King, then our response to this contentious age will be different.

We’ll be quicker to listen, slower to speak, and slower to become angry. We’ll be willing to take the plank out of our own eye before we fixate on someone else’s speck. Willing to follow Jesus’ example and take the lowly position of a servant. Willing to consider others more important than ourselves. Willing to apologize when we’ve missed the mark, and extend grace when we’ve been wronged.

This Christ-like humility is the only thing I know that has the power to bridge racial divides, heal economic disparities, and deescalate political tensions. At Hope Academy, we have one of the most beautiful opportunities to put the gospel on display for a watching world.

4. Fourth, and finally, hope in God cultivates radical perseverance in adversity. 

Starting in kindergarten, Hope Academy students learn that “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Third graders, learning the story of Joseph, discover that God is good all the time, and that sometimes he allows hard things, things we don’t understand, as part of his bigger story of redemption.

And what is the fruit of these seeds that have been planted? While thousands of children in our city failed classes or never showed up, Hope Academy students persevered through the challenges of this year and showed up day after day, with 96% daily attendance for online and in-person learning. When communication barriers and the technology learning curve brought teachers, students, and parents to tears, when parents juggled work, parenting, and school in a pandemic, when teachers put in double the work to teach hybrid classes, God somehow gave us the strength to persevere.

Perseverance doesn’t come by looking inward, but by looking upward. It’s the difference between saying, “you can do this!” and saying, “the God of the universe is with you and for you, and in him you can do this!” This is the perseverance I saw in three of our seniors who were recently awarded full-ride scholarships to Hillsdale College and North Central University. It’s the perseverance that’s needed to pursue educational justice for the youth of our city, despite enormous headwinds and challenges.

Speaking of perseverance, when you work at something for over 20 years, you begin to see a different kind of fruit. Systems change over long periods of time. Most of us are looking for a magic pill. Most of the time I don’t stick at things long enough to see oak tree-like results.

Last week I saw three things that really lifted my spirits, and I know they will lift yours as well.

  1. First, I saw that Hope Academy High School students would rather pray than protest. When presented with an opportunity to join other students in our city who walked out of schools to protest in our city, Hope Academy students rallied classmates to join them in the chapel to pray for the peace of our city and ask God for the courage to love their neighbors and make things better.
  2. Secondly, last week we hired one of our own graduates! She was a member of Hope’s first graduating class of 2012, a National Merit Scholar who went to an Ivy League school, and we just hired her for an important leadership position. She was willing to sacrifice better pay in order to join us in making a great Christ-centered education affordable to all.
  3. And third, last Saturday I was doing new family interviews for next fall’s kindergarten class. And guess who walked in? One of our former students with her 5-year-old son. She’s using her bi-lingual skills as a social worker in St. Paul, and she wants her son to have the same remarkable education that she had.

In Galatians 6, Paul says to us: “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

God bless you, and let Hope arise!

Watch Russ give this talk at our latest Partner Day:

13 years later, this dad’s dream came true.

When Israel and Maria discovered Hope Academy, they knew they wanted to send their children here one day. While a private, Christian education felt out of reach, they hoped and prayed that God would make it possible–and He did.

Over the past 13 years, God has used Hope Academy to open tremendous doors of opportunity for this family. Be inspired as they share their story:

Their son has attended Hope Academy since kindergarten and will be graduating this spring—on a significant scholarship to the University of Minnesota. He will be a first-generation college student in the fall, studying entrepreneurial management at the Carlson School of Management.

Your support is transforming generations, and making dreams come true. Thank you!

5 tips for choosing a school for your child

Five Words of Advice When Selecting a School for your Child

By Russ Gregg, Head of School, Hope Academy

Let me begin by commending you for investing your time to research and select a great school for your child. Your choice of a school for your children is one of the 2 or 3 biggest decisions you will make in your lifetime.

Thirty years ago, my wife and I moved into the Phillip’s neighborhood in South Minneapolis. We raised our three children here. All are now college graduates, with successful careers, leading beautiful families. Based on my many years of experience, I want to share five words of advice for you to consider when choosing a school for your child.

First, Look for a True Education.

All schools used to be based on objective truth. Almost 100 years ago, the poison of relativism began seeping into American schools, capturing the minds and hearts of our youth. The Bible describes this enslavement as “being taken captive by hollow and deceptive philosophy.” School leaders today have largely rejected God and suppressed objective truth, replacing it with the false concept of relative, individual truths.

All education built on a fundamental lie will ultimately crumble and harm all those who have subjected themselves to it. Like those living in a city whose wall of protection has crumbled, the great hope for your children is to rebuild a wall of righteousness based on the unshakeable, unchanging truth of the Word of God.

Second, Look for an Academically Challenging and Spiritually Vigorous Education.

Beware of the soft bigotry of low expectations. A great school will not tolerate differing standards of education and behavior– a suburban standard and an urban standard. Great schools believe all students should be prepared to go on to college if they so choose.

This is why all students at Hope Academy study Latin for five years. They study Algebra as 8th graders and do a year of Calculus as seniors. All students at Hope Academy are expected to read and discuss great books, like the works of Shakespeare, Homer’s Odyssey, and Pride and Prejudice.

Look for a school that believes that all students are capable of practicing virtuous, moral behavior with God’s help. And look for a school that cultivates wonder and worship in your child. God created your child to love and enjoy God.

Third, Look for a Vibrant Community of Parents and Teachers.

What’s the single best predictor of school success? Engaged and involved parents.

Remember, you’re not just sending your child to a school. You’re really joining a school family. Ideally, that should sound inviting and empowering to you.

Jesus taught us something very important about all education. He said, “when a student is fully trained, he will become like his teacher.” This is an inviolable principle. You can’t avoid it!

Look very carefully into who will be teaching your child. If Jesus is correct, then your children will grow up to resemble their teachers.

Fourth, Look for Educational Accountability.

You may be the one person in a million who doesn’t require accountability, but all the rest of us, if we’re honest with ourselves, know we need accountability. All the most successful people in the world are keenly aware of their own weaknesses, and they purposefully invite accountability into their lives.

The parents at Hope Academy make a solemn pledge to be involved and engaged in their child’s education, and they are willing to be held accountable to that pledge. Therefore, 97% of Hope Academy parents attend their child’s Parent/Teacher conference, and those who miss their conference get it rescheduled the following week.

Finally, Look for a Sacrificial Education.

As in most things, beware of anything that’s free. We all know there is no such thing as a free lunch, or a free cruise to the Bahamas. Beware of any schools that cost you nothing. There’s something dynamic about a school where everyone has some skin in the game.

Let’s review my five words of advice in selecting a school. I strongly suggest that you look for:

  • A true education built on the truth of the word of God.
  • A rigorous education that cultivates wisdom, wonder, and worship.
  • An authentic educational community of parents and teachers.
  • An accountable education, where accountability is welcomed and not resented.
  • Finally, a sacrificial education, where everyone has some skin in the game.

Ultimately, all schooling comes down to trust. As a parent, you must find a school for your children led by people you deeply trust. Unless you are home-schooling, you will be entrusting your greatest treasures in the world to a school for the next 13 years. In the strongest possible terms, I advise you not to send your children to a school unless you have complete trust in the leaders of that school.

Choosing a school for your children is one of the biggest decisions you will make in your life. We pray that God will help you and your family as you make this life-changing decision!






What difference does God’s love make?

His love gives us a new perspective.

Every child at Hope Academy learns our school’s creed, which proclaims: “I am created in the image of God, and he loves me–beyond my imagination.” As students and teachers recite these priceless truths, we learn to see ourselves and each other from God’s perspective.

His love gives us courage.

In Hope’s creed, we also learn that, “God calls me to love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ…to not do harm against another, but to love and encourage others, and to serve my community. For I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Our staff, families, and partners have done this in beautiful, heroic, myriad ways, fueled by God’s life-changing love.

His love fills us with hope.

As we’ve faced the many stresses of this year, my spirits have been lifted remembering, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us” (Romans 5:3-5). Amen!

May you be encouraged and filled with the love of Christ today.
Let Hope Arise

How School’s Going this Year

While this has undoubtedly been the most challenging school year we’ve faced, we’re also seeing God do some extraordinary things at Hope Academy.
Be encouraged as you watch this mid-year update:

By God’s grace, your prayers and support are enabling us to provide the love, structure, and learning that children so desperately need right now. Thank you for investing in the youth of our city.

The Grad that Keeps Giving

Kenneth Granados is a grad who keeps giving. Kenneth graduated from Hope Academy in 2018, and is now attending the University of Northwestern-St. Paul as a first-generation college student–on a full-ride scholarship!

Even better, he and some fellow graduates have been mentoring Hope Academy students weekly, and serving our South Minneapolis community in the wake of this summer’s tragic events.

Hear how God has used Hope Academy to shape Kenneth’s life–and how he is paying that forward in the lives of others:

Jamie, your investments in Hope Academy can also be multiplied in the lives of our students. Anonymous donors have stepped up to double your impact–and make sure Hope Academy students get the support and resources they need in this challenging season.

Thanks to our Let Hope Arise 1:1 Match, all new and increased giving will be matched dollar-for-dollar, up to $250,000!

3 million missing from school | The difference you’re making.

With up to three million children missing from school nationwide, we’re extra grateful for 14 weeks (and counting!) of mostly in-person learning, and the stability and normalcy it’s brought to our students and families. Here are just a few ways we’ve seen God at work through your prayers and support:

  • 545 urban children are receiving a remarkable, God-centered education at Hope Academy.
  • Students are actively engaged in their classes, with 95% attendance.
  • Each child has a technology device and safe access to their schoolwork.
  • 97% of parents completed their parent-teacher conferences.
  • Hundreds of parents were equipped at Parent Involvement Day. Workshops covered topics like: helping children cope with trauma, communicating effectively with teens, and staying mentally and physically healthy during winter.


  • Staff have distributed $32,000 in Crisis Relief Funds to families and connected them to other resources in the community.
  • We’ve added a second school social worker to help families with the immense challenges of this year.
  • Students and families are being blessed with new books, gifts to open on Christmas, and a special holiday meal to enjoy.

In this especially challenging year, you are helping to make Hope possible for hundreds of children and families in Minneapolis. We thank God for you and pray this season brings you more joy in Him.

Update from Hope Academy in Week 8!

Dear Hope,

We’re thanking God to be in week 8 of this school year, and wanted to share an update. Though it has been by far the most challenging and complex school year, we praise God that we’re able to continue caring for the majority of students in-person (about 70%), as well as providing online schooling for those who need it (about 30%).

Even with face masks, desk dividers, and new protocols, children know they are loved, and are adapting to this year’s new normal. Students are happy to see their teachers and friends again, and flourish with structure and routine.

Last week, teachers did a virtual “home visit” with each family in their class, connecting, encouraging, and praying for one another. Next Saturday, we’ll host a virtual Parent Involvement Day, providing a variety of workshops parents can choose for their growth and equipping.

This fall, we’re also grateful to have launched initial HopeTech courses in woodworking, coding, robotics, and more. This is part of a broader initiative to better prepare students for the future of work by exposing them to the trades and technology, in addition to their classical coursework.In all of this, we praise God that He is our Rock, our Refuge, and our Hope in times of trouble. As the world continues to swirl around us, He is constant, eternal, and unchanging. If you are praying, giving, or otherwise supporting our community in this time, thank you. You are making a world of difference for children and families in our city. If you’d like to learn more or get involved in these ways, please see the links below.

“May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love, and Christ’s perseverance.” 2 Thessalonians 3:5

Let Hope Arise,

Russ Gregg
Co-Founder & Head of School

3 ways you can help this school year

As the 2020 school year begins, we’re so grateful not to do this alone! It’s been a heavy summer — COVID-19, devastating riots, a spike in violence — so you can imagine our joy to have children back in the building.

While we can’t have visitors to the school like normal this year, we are still calling on our community to rally for the children of Hope. Here are 3 ways you can make a huge difference for the youth of our city, at a time it’s needed most:

1. Invite a friend to an upcoming “Pursuing Remarkable Experience”
Join us for an engaging, virtual experience where we unpack the urban education crisis, and hear powerful stories of how Hope Academy is impacting our city for good–and how you can help! Click for dates and to register.

2. Pray for our community
With everything that’s unfolding in our world and community, we are more aware of our dependence on God than ever. Email Allie Marks to receive monthly updates with timely prayer requests for our school community.

3. Invest in Hope
90% of Hope Academy’s costs are paid for by generous donors like you, making a remarkable, God-centered education affordable for everyone. This year, we’re trusting God to provide for the increased costs of COVID-19 safety measures, additional technology devices, and extra support for our families. See how you can partner with us financially in bringing hope to our community.

Thank you for partnering with us, for the youth of our city.

Students are back! Photos & updates from the first day of school

It’s a first day of school like no other!

Teachers, balloons, music, and even our mascot gave a warm and energetic “Welcome back!” to students who returned today for the first time since March.

This fall, Hope Academy is grateful to provide both online and in-person schooling options to serve the unique needs of our families (details here).

Our plan prioritizes the health and safety of our students and staff, and addresses the educational, social, emotional, and spiritual needs of our students. We’re thrilled to have most students returning in-person!

As we’ve all felt in different ways, this year is anything but easy. But the most important things in life come at a cost. C.S. Lewis said:

“There are always plenty of rivals to our work…If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other to end before we can really get down to our work. The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavorable. Favorable conditions never come… We must do the best we can.”

With firm hope in our faithful God, the Hope Academy community will persevere amid the current adversity and do all within our power to help all our children continue “to grow in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52).

Your prayers and support are vital as we proceed with caution this fall. Thanks for your partnership in loving the children of our city, who this year have been through so much.