How Is Your Child Being Influenced at School?

Starting in kindergarten, children spend 1,000+ hours in school each year. This means they often spend more waking hours with their teachers than with any other adults—including their parents!

So, here’s an important question: How are they being influenced?

One Hope Academy student shared,

“At my old schools, the kids just did whatever they wanted and the staff kind of just went with it…I made a lot of bad decisions because of the people I was hanging around. That weighed heavy on me because I knew that I shouldn’t have been doing the things I was doing. I still continued to [make bad choices] because I felt if I didn’t, I would just be alone, and no one wants to be alone. If I didn’t have a place like Hope Academy, I feel like right now I probably would still be making the wrong choices—doing things that I didn’t want to do.”

The pressure to fit in with peers is massive for children and teens. As many as 90% of teens report having faced peer pressure. Sadly, students often give in to what it seems like “everyone is doing”—including bullying, substance abuse, and other negative behaviors.

We can’t focus only on what students achieve. We have to consider who they’re becoming.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals.”

How do we instill morals into the hearts and minds of our students? How do we determine what is moral and right?

At Hope Academy, we believe that each child is made in God’s image—created to reflect the kindness, love, creativity, and many other wonderful aspects of His character. Our goal is to point students to Jesus Christ, who “radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God.” (Hebrews 1:3). Only when students see and experience the love of Christ and pursue an authentic relationship with Him, can they enjoy true freedom and become who God made them to be.

Children have weekly chapel time, learn about God’s character and work throughout history, and memorize priceless truths from Scripture. In the younger grades, children work with staff and peers to grow in friendships and social skills. We provide a “Boys to Men” club to help students—many from fatherless homes—build character and pursue a higher standard of excellence. Through discipline, teachers and deans help students pause and think about other people’s feelings. Children learn when and how to apologize, and how to rebuild trust.

Throughout middle and high school, classes in ethics, Bible, and social-emotional learning help children continue this growth. Students build self-awareness as they reflect on their health, relationships, and thinking patterns. Students also learn to use logic and reason and the truth of God’s Word to understand and process through history and current events.

Makiah shared: “This year in ethics class, our teacher, Mrs. Brueske, has helped us learn how to be more intuitive about our thinking behind actions and the actions of other people around us. We’ve gotten to learn about different people groups—different ways that they think and how culture can impact your own thinking.

We’ve done a lot of Socratic seminars, as well…It’s a time to listen to others and kind of challenge your own thoughts, and see how your beliefs could change or how you could learn to sympathize with others more. It’s been really cool to see how, over time, our classmates have learned to respect each other and listen to others’ opinions.”

From their teachers, Hope Academy students are learning about their identity as God’s image bearers and gaining confidence, security, and peace in their lives. Children are learning to discern what is moral and right and seeing the difference it makes when they apply this in their classes and relationships.

Every time our students get a report card, they rate themselves on the HOPE values of Honor for God & others, Optimism for the future, Perseverance through adversity, and Excellence in all things. Each ranking is discussed with parents, students, and teachers in some honest and transformative conversations.

One of our graduates, Kalista, shared:

“I remember our middle school principal, Mrs. Pearce, frequently telling me, ‘Someone’s always watching. The people who are younger than you are looking up to you to know what to do.’ Finally, that clicked. That changed the way I thought about myself and caused me to start thinking about how my actions affected other people.”

At Hope Academy, students also have a wealth of opportunities to build caring friendships with their peers, to invest in the lives of younger students, and to serve in our communities—opportunities like mentor groups, sports teams, cohort tournaments, service days and retreats, and mission trips to New Orleans (10th grade) and Puerto Rico (12th grade).

Nathanael explained,

“People think that teenage guys are kind of self-centered and don’t really care about others; but I’ve seen quite the opposite at Hope. Many of my classmates take time out of their mornings to come into school and to tutor other students that are younger than them. I know there are many captains that have really sought to push their teams forward and show what it means to be a leader.”

By God’s grace, Hope Academy is helping to make a different way possible for Minneapolis children. One of our parents shared, “It saved my child. I truly believe that she could have gone the wrong way with the wrong children and I can’t tell you enough how lucky we are that she has found Hope Academy.”

If you’re looking for a high-quality, faith-based education in Minneapolis, at a price your family can afford, the Hope Academy Admissions Team would love to connect with you!

And don’t let cost be a barrier. We work with each family to determine a fair share of family tuition, sometimes as little as $75/family/mo.

We also invite you to share this post with others who may be interested in learning more about Hope Academy.

A Republic, If You Can Keep It: Educating Kingdom Citizens

When Hope Academy began 22 years ago, we focused on solving the urban education crisis.

These days, the education crisis has spread all over our nation. Accelerated by a cultural shift away from basic concepts of morality, it’s a crisis that threatens our very republic.

Have you ever considered the fragility of our American republic? Most of us never give the future of America’s grand experiment with democracy a second thought.

The founders of our country thought differently. They assumed that our experiment in self-government would require constant vigilance. They knew its continuation would require the education of a special kind of citizen. I want us to consider how critically important a Hope Academy education is to protecting our liberty and sustaining the future of our way of life.

There is a story that upon exiting the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin was approached by a group of citizens asking what sort of government the delegates had created. His answer was: “A republic, if you can keep it.”

The brevity of that response shouldn’t fool us: democratic republics are not merely founded upon the consent of the people and a piece of paper. They are absolutely dependent upon the active and informed involvement of the governed.

As I look at the state of our country 235 years after the Founders completed their work, there is both cause for satisfaction and reasons for grave concern. We have avoided many of the plagues afflicting so many other societies, but this is hardly cause for complacency.

One could argue that the challenges to national unity are, if anything, far greater today than those confronting our infant nation in 1787. The face of America in 2022 looks very different. We’re no longer a people united by a common language, a common religion, or a common culture; and while our overall material prosperity is staggering by any standard, the widening gulf between rich and poor is perhaps the most serious threat to a common “pursuit of happiness.”

So, Franklin said, “You have a republic, if you can keep it.” I would suggest that most American schools today, both secondary and post-secondary, foster three serious threats to the future of our republic.

American schooling threatens our country with:

  1. A destructive view of freedom
  2. A dangerous view of truth
  3. A devastating view of identity

And while this doesn’t necessarily apply to all teachers in our public schools, it is descriptive of the system as a whole.

Let’s look briefly at each of these threats and then how radically different and necessary is a Hope Academy education.

First, American Schools Suffer from a Destructive View of Freedom
American schools have exalted freedom as an essentially private matter, a liberty conceived only as freedom from all outside interference. Today’s destructive view of freedom assumes that there is no overarching purpose for which we were created. And if there’s no overarching purpose, then there’s no obligation to conform to it and fulfill it.

Freedom today is understood as the freedom to create your own meaning and purpose. Even the Supreme Court enshrined this view into law when it said, “The heart of liberty is to define one’s own concept of existence, of the meaning of the universe.”

The modern mind’s exchange of liberty for license has had a cancerous effect on our society and on our schools. Students are no longer prepared to answer the question, “What is freedom for?”

Without virtue there can be no true, personal freedom.

Imagine a fish who didn’t understand that its freedom must fit with the reality of its God-given nature and capacities. Designed to absorb oxygen from water rather than air, a fish is only free if it is restricted and limited to water. If we put it out on the grass, its freedom to move and even live is not enhanced but destroyed. Similarly, we will not flourish if we do not honor the reality of our God-given natures.

True freedom, then, is not the absence of limitations and constraints, but it is finding the right ones, those that fit our nature and liberate us for something greater.

Second, American Schools Foster a Dangerous View of Truth
In the middle of the 20th century, people like Dorothy Sayers and C.S. Lewis astutely suspected something was horribly wrong in our schools. Schools began to graduate people who were incapable of even basic intellectual skills that all previously educated generations took for granted.

Schools had exchanged a belief in transcendent, objective truth for relative, personal truths, an exchange that will ultimately lead to the destruction of society as we know it.

Schools no longer teach that certain attitudes and beliefs are really true, and others really false, in relation to the essence of the universe.

Do you see the difference between two persons having a disagreement over whether something is actually true or false? Or good or evil? Versus someone arguing that something is true for me, or evil for you?

The distinction is subtle in one sense and monumental in another. I would argue that this is an underlying reason for the educational crisis sweeping our nation. One type of school denies that there is any objective reality that stands outside of a person’s opinion, and the other says that the nature of objective reality allows for us—or should I say demands—that we respectfully discuss and reason with one another to come to some sort of agreement.

Third, American Schools are Beginning to Foster a Devastating View of Identity
The founders of our country chose a powerful motto to inspire its new citizens streaming to our nation. They chose the phrase, E Pluribus Unum—Latin for “out of many, one.” Today, American schools have moved away from honoring any singular, unifying, identity and have instead essentialized secondary identities: political, cultural, racial, and sexual identities. This has led to greater division, greater incivility, and greater polarization than at any other time in our lifetimes.

Have you noticed how this devastating view of identity has infected our everyday speech? Almost everyone now prefaces their remarks with a reference to some personal identity marker. For instance, “As a white, middle-class son of a Wisconsin tavern owner, I feel that it’s inappropriate for me to make any statements about the detrimental effects of alcohol.”

How detrimental is this erroneous view of identity? Recently, the superintendent of the Meade County School District in Kentucky dealt with an unusual situation: a group of high school students attending his school were acting like and dressing as cats. He said these students identify as animals and call themselves “furries,” preferring to crawl in the hallways and hiss at you or scratch at you if they don’t like something you’re doing.

Today, correcting such behavior is frowned upon. Imagine the chaos if our schools go down this road on a massive scale.

Educating Kingdom Citizens
So, what’s the solution to this chaos? What’s needed is an education that fosters a different kind of citizen. For lack of a better term, we need an education that fosters “kingdom citizens,”—citizens with a radically different view of freedom, truth, and identity. What we need are kingdom schools.

What if a school fostered a view of freedom, not primarily as freedom from all limitations or constraints, but as freedom for—as freedom for serving others? What if freedom was connected to the virtue of love, the virtue that supplies the self-restraint that is the indispensable requirement for liberty?

Let me illustrate this kind of freedom. A couple months ago, our upper school principal, Nathan Ziegler, got a phone call from a parent of a player from the opposing basketball team we played over the weekend. The parent called to single out one of our seniors, Jordan, for something he did during the game. Nathan’s first thought was, “Uh-oh.”

The parent said that his son was a very awkward and uncoordinated boy, and that he was the student manager of the team. That night the coach told his son to suit up because it was Senior Night. In the last few minutes of the game, to wild applause from the hometown fans, the coach put the student manager into the game. The first time he touched the ball he was immediately smothered by our defense and had the ball taken away from him.

Comprehending all that was happening, in a single moment, Jordan, our most ferocious competitor, took action. The next time up the floor, Jordan waved his teammates off, and he guarded this other player himself—making sure to give him plenty of space to attempt a shot. After receiving the ball, the opposing player awkwardly threw up a wild shot and made the only basket of his high school career, after which he was mobbed by all his friends.

The parent called to speak directly with Jordan to thank him personally for the gift he had given his son: a memory that will stay with him for the rest of his life. That’s what freedom is for.

What if truth was less about looking inside yourself to discover what’s true for you, but instead about using reason and the guidance of the Scriptures to discover what is objectively true and good and beautiful for us all?

What if classroom discussions of controversial topics with the guidance of the Scriptures were the most educational acts in which we could engage?

What if our core identity wasn’t something to be achieved, but something to be received from God? And what if students learned to preface their comments with, “As an image-bearer and child of God,…?”

What if education was ultimately about preparing citizens for eternal life? Divorced from its ultimate end, the worship of God, even the best penultimate educational goals will prove meaningless and hollow, won’t they? As Jesus himself said, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?”

Our school’s vision statement says, “Hope Academy will seek to unleash kingdom citizens who work for justice, economic opportunity, racial harmony, hope for the family, and joy in the community.”

That’s what your partnership makes available for the families in our city who otherwise couldn’t afford it.

Clearly, a Hope Academy education can carry the awesome weight of such a noble and transcendent purpose—to prepare one to truly know and enjoy the glory of God and to love your neighbor as yourself. As Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Now, that’s liberty indeed!

Bright Futures for Hope Academy Graduates

We have so much to celebrate with this year’s graduates!

Though they haven’t had a normal school year since they were freshmen, “our class is resilient” says Elliot, co-valedictorian for Hope Academy’s Class of 2022. “We have been—as the apostle Paul put it—‘more than conquerors through Him that loved us.’”

Jessica, who attended Hope Academy from kindergarten through 12th grade, is the first in her family to graduate from high school—and she has been accepted to the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota! A classmate of hers will be joining her at Carlson; another is heading to New York University.

Graduates attending (left to right): NYU, Grand Canyon University, and Carlson School of Management.

This fall, Makiah, who also attended Hope Academy for 13 years, will be joining her older sister (one of our 2020 graduates) at the University of Northwestern-St. Paul—both on full-ride scholarships!

Though Minnesota continues to have some of the worst high school graduation rates in the nation for students of color—and children in our local schools are facing COVID learning loss, widening achievement gaps, and other enormous challenges—we’re grateful to see Hope Academy students beating the odds.

Across all of our classes, 96% of seniors have graduated on-time; and have together been awarded millions of dollars in college scholarships. Graduates are advancing in higher education and careers, and serving as leaders in their families, workplaces, and communities.

This year’s graduates are a beautiful picture of God’s work at Hope Academy, over many years. Thirteen have been here since kindergarten or first grade! Through classes, retreats, cohort tournaments, mission trips, and many other experiences, they’ve gained deep friendships and authentic faith.

“I really love my environment and the community here at Hope – the loving environment, the opennes, the willingness to talk about anything, and the environment that’s closely related to God and helping me find my faith.” – Nakila

“Hope Academy has helped me to grow stronger in my relationship with Jesus in many ways. The teachers and staff have continuously poured into my life, encouraged me and prayed for me.” – Ellie

This year’s graduates have also persevered through a pandemic, the grief and chaos surrounding George Floyd’s death and ensuing riots in our city, extended school days, and other trials—adapting to change after change, developing grit, and becoming confident leaders. Now, they’re ready to take on the rigors of college, vocational training, and other aspects of life after high school.

Hundreds of students are following in their footsteps—growing in faith, wisdom, and stature at Hope Academy. Parents are gaining essential skills and resources to lead their families; and lives are being changed by the Gospel. Kenneth, one of our 2018 graduates shared:

“I’m just so grateful for Hope because that’s where it all started. That’s where the relationships were built, where we were able to get to know each other, and where we all fell in love with the gospel—and where that desire and that passion for ministry started for me and for many others…I’m thankful for places like Hope Academy that are strategically placed in the middle of the city in tough neighborhoods, where people without it wouldn’t have the chance to hear the Gospel. My prayer and my hope is that Hope Academy and other churches around the city will be used mightily by God in the next couple years.”

Kenneth is a first-generation college student at the University of Northwestern-St. Paul, on a full-ride, full-need scholarship! Throughout COVID-19, he has also served as a mentor for students at Hope Academy and in the city.

Thanks to the prayers and generosity of financial partners—who together provide 90% of the cost to educate our students—hundreds of children like Kenneth have access to a remarkable, God-centered education in Minneapolis.

And, the opportunities are growing! Through HopePATHs at Hope Academy, students are enjoying new, hands-on experiences in technology, robotics, coding, construction, and the arts; and gaining a stronger vision for life and a career after graduation. This fall, we’ll add more vocational paths in business, teaching, and healthcare for our growing high school.

If you are looking for a high-quality, private K-12 education in Minneapolis, at a price your family can afford, the Hope Academy Admissions Team would love to connect with you!  Go to or contact La’Toyra White-Tanner at 612-540-2092.

To each person who is praying, encouraging, and investing in the lives of our students and families – thank you! We also invite you to share Hope with a friend, to help us serve more children in the city.

A Private School Other People Pay For?

Every parent wants the very best for their child – a bright future full of opportunity and hope. But for many families, a high-quality education can feel out of reach.

“I was very surprised that there were people who were willing to donate their money so that other families could afford a private education. It was amazing!” shared Ady, one of our parents.

At Hope Academy, we take a different approach.

Together, our families pay 10% of the total cost to educate our students. Hundreds of financial partners sponsor the rest. This allows us to provide the very best private, Christian K-12 education in Minneapolis, at a price that’s accessible to all.

“I have a son who graduated from Hope Academy…he’s in his third year of college. My dream was always for him to be able to go here but I knew we couldn’t afford it. And they were like, “Well Karen – they have sponsors, they have partners who will help you!”

Our staff works together with each family to determine a tuition amount that’s affordable. This is sometimes as little as $75/month for all children combined to attend Hope Academy!

Since 2000, we’ve grown to serve 590 students annually—and no child has ever been turned away for lack of funds.

Even though Hope Academy is growing, students and parents continue to say that it feels like a family. Our teachers and staff work so hard to provide a classroom and community where every child is known, loved, and able to pursue his or her best; and where families from all different cultures and backgrounds feel welcome.

Each year, our students are growing and thriving academically—beating national norms in reading and math, and graduating at remarkable rates (96% across all classes!). One in six of our graduates has been awarded a full-tuition college scholarship. Many other graduates have received significant scholarships to places like the University of Minnesota-Carlson School of Management, the University of Northwestern-St. Paul, and the University of St. Thomas.

More than anything, we’re grateful to see students and graduates placing their hope in Jesus, and walking faithfully with him as they love and serve their classmates, families, co-workers, and communities.

This is only possible because of the generosity of hundreds of donors, who sponsor 90% of the cost to educate our students each year.

One parent shared: “I almost cried the other day at tuition conferences, when they told me how much money was going to be gifted to my family next year. To see the radical generosity of these people—it just blows me away. I’ve never seen anything like this before in my life.”

With support from financial Partners, we’ve also launched new opportunities in technology, robotics, coding, construction, and the arts—to help students gain a strong vision for life and a career after graduation. This fall, we’ll add more vocational offerings in business, teaching, and healthcare!

If you are looking for a high-quality K-12 education in Minneapolis, at a price your family can afford, the Hope Academy Admissions Team would love to connect with you!

We also invite you to share this post with others who may be interested in learning more about Hope Academy.

What Makes a Remarkable Teacher

It’s been the hardest year of school for so many teachers. Of thousands surveyed across the US, 55% have said they are more likely to leave the profession early.*  

That’s why I’m so encouraged by the patience and perseverance I see in our teachers at Hope Academy. These men and women are continuing to push through COVID fatigue, extended school days, and countless other challenges to help children in Minneapolis succeed—giving extra time to: 

  • Connect with students outside of class to build trust and authentic relationships. 
  • Help children catch up in reading, grow in friendships, and gain other life skills. 
  • Coach athletic teams, and lead student mentor groups and mission trips.  
  • Have more, in-depth conversations with students, to understand needs and provide support. 
  • Partner with parents through calls, texts, visits, and other meaningful connections throughout the week. 

 Again and again, we hear students (and parents) say:

“The staff at Hope are like family,” and, “I know I am loved and cared about at this school.” 

This kind of care would be impossible without God. When we see and experience His love, it impacts everything—from the way we think about ourselves and others, to how we interact with staff, students, and families. That’s why dependence on God is so important, and is a core value at Hope Academy. 

Every day, teachers are praying, reading the Bible, and trusting Him for help to model Christ to their students. Staff are encouraging children to think of how Jesus showed kindness, love, and grace—and how they can show this to each other. Students are memorizing Scripture and learning to answer questions based not just on what they think, but on evidence they find in the biblical text. Through classroom instruction and discipline—and activities like chapel and mentor groups—teachers are helping students reflect on deeper heart issues and thinking patterns, look to Christ, and experience an authentic, growing relationship with Him. 

With God’s help, seeds of faith are being sown in the hearts of our students, and hundreds of lives are being transformed.

One of our graduates, Collin, shared: 

“Looking back, I realize just how important Hope Academy was in sowing seeds of faith in my life. Hope was the community God used to sow seeds of faith, and to build an inner strength, Godly character, and give me hope in God above all else.”

We invite you to pray for the teachers at Hope Academy as they continue loving and serving the children and families of the city.

We also invite you to write a note to encourage and thank a teacher, and send it to  [email protected]. 

Thank you for supporting these remarkable men and women and the mission of Hope Academy. See more of the impact. 

*Results from a January 2022 poll of ~3,600 members of the National Education Association. 


On Sunday, we celebrated the most hopeful event in history. Jesus, the Son of God, rose from death to life—making a way for us to experience true and lasting life through Him.  

Without Easter, school would be a lot different at Hope Academy. Children would learn to do what the people of Israel did when they had no king: “whatever seemed right in their own eyes” (Judges 17:6).  We could teach our students to follow a set of rules. Though, without a common moral standard, it would be hard to define these rules (and to agree on many other decisions). Through discipline, we could try to modify behaviors. This would only produce outward, temporary change.

Throughout Minneapolis, there would still be crime, injustice, poverty, broken relationships, and other effects of sin—but no real solution.  

This is why redemption is so important—and is a core value at Hope Academy.

We are passionate about God’s transformational work to redeem all things through Christ. “Through the person and work of Jesus Christ, God fully accomplishes salvation for us, rescuing us from judgment for sin into fellowship with him, and then restores the creation in which we can enjoy our new life together with him forever,” explains pastor and author, Tim Keller. 

With this incredible hope, we can approach teaching in a different way. We can tell our students that there is a King! We can point children to God—the One who transforms hearts and minds, giving us both the desire and the ability to change.  

At Hope Academy, hundreds of students are learning what Easter really means for their own lives, their families, and all of creation. Children are experiencing the love of Christ, choosing to follow Him, and finding true freedom and hope. With God’s help, they are growing in love and using their knowledge and skills to bless others.  

Parents are also gaining hope in Christ, and families are being strengthened.

Wayne, a parent with five children who have attended Hope Academy, shared:  

“[When I moved to Minneapolis], I had no GED, with school having felt more like a prison than a place of learning. Selling drugs was the best job I knew, until my neighbors introduced me to some honest work that I did on a part-time basis.

I was just beginning to see that there might be a way out. I also had a young son out of wedlock, and a hard heart towards his mom. She was a single mom of three in her early 20s, scared and doing the best that she could.

After hearing a man named Jeff Bird share at her church, she decided to put her oldest daughter at a tiny new school called Hope Academy in South Minneapolis.  

God has used that decision—and the people associated with this place—to completely change our lives. I married that woman, and her children became our children. It’s hard for my wife and I to express what this place means to us, how much of an oasis it is. Neither Kim nor I came from strong families. To be honest, we’d never even seen a healthy family up close. So, to be exposed to that at Hope Academy was truly mind-blowing.

By inviting us into their families, this community has strengthened our family, which has had a tremendous stabilizing impact on our kids.

I know that the love for Christ and the lessons my children have learned here, they’ll continue passing on to their children, and hopefully their grandchildren after that.”  

Today, Wayne is the Associate Executive Director of the Society of St. Vincent De Paul-Twin Cities and a member of Hope Academy’s Board of Directors. He and his wife, Kim, have two children who currently attend Hope Academy. 

We’re so thankful to see God’s redeeming work in our students’ lives and families; and that we can look to a day when He will completely renew all things (Isaiah 65:17-25; Revelation 21:1-5).

May God fill you with even more joy and hope in this amazing promise!


Over the past 13 years, a group of Hope Academy staff have travelled with sophomores on a weeklong mission trip to New Orleans, Louisiana. Sadly, New Orleans suffers from extremely high poverty rates and is still recovering from the effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Ida. Just last week, a devastating tornado swept through the region, causing severe damage to more than 150 homes and buildings. 

We’ve been so grateful to return to New Orleans each year (with the exception of delayed trips due to COVID-19), to serve needs in this community, and to build long-term relationships with local ministries. Students have helped with construction, yardwork, and other improvement projects; tutoring children through an after-school program; and providing food and other basic needs in the neighborhood where we stay. 

Through this trip, students have a great opportunity to depend on God as they try new and challenging projects and work together with our ministry partners. It’s also a great time for staff to connect with students as they worship, serve, share meals, and explore a new city together. 

Each year, we send our 8th, 10th, and 12th graders on mission trips to help them grow in servant leadership focused on blessing those around them, while building friendships and trust in the process. And through the years, many students have deepened their commitment to Christ during these times of self-sacrifice! 

With the faithful support of many partners, hundreds of low-income youth are able to attend Hope Academy year after year, and to access these and other life-changing opportunities.  

We invite you to watch our Hope in a Half Hour video to learn more about the mission and impact of Hope Academy in Minneapolis. 





An Important Question About Income and Achievement

Earlier this month, I read an interesting new article in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) called A Faithful Way to Learn.

It begins by asking: “What kind of child does well in school?” and shares some common characteristics of high achievers: “respect for authority, an ability to get along with fellow students, a stable family, exposure to responsible adults, and a feeling of hope”—characteristics we typically see in children from higher-income families.

But, then the WSJ asks, “What if there were one particular element in a child’s experience that could foster such characteristics in everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status?”

God, Grades, and Graduation—a new book by Ilana M. Horwitz—suggests an answer to this important question.

From analyzing a decade of national survey results and hundreds of interviews, Horwitz found that “nonaffluent teens who are intensely religious” (that is, who grow up in a strong, Christian community and develop true faith of their own) “complete more years of education than nonaffluent teenagers who are less religious.”

Horwitz calls these teens “abiders”—emphasizing the role of both faith and community in academic achievement. She says children must “believe and belong.”

This is exactly what we see every day at Hope Academy. For six hours a day, five days a week, students are enjoying a healthy, structured learning environment and connecting with caring staff. Children know they are loved by God and the people around them.

“Kids like coming to school. They feel safe here,” says Mr. Gillespie, our Head of Family Ministry.

Hope Academy students are also learning about God and His Word, and growing in virtues like kindness, diligence, and respect.

Like Horwitz explains in God, Grades, and Graduation, all of this helps non-affluent children gain “social capital” and achieve higher academic performance. Here is just one example:

One of our students has significant family challenges. But, for years at Hope Academy, he has been impacted by loving teachers, high standards, and high accountability, and gained extra support to thrive. Now, he is showing a true desire to improve his grades and prepare for high school.

At Hope Academy, hundreds of urban youth are persevering through a pandemic, violence and chaos in Minneapolis, and other trauma, and becoming true abiders in Christ. Students are continuing to grow academically and personally, and to achieve remarkable graduation rates (96% across all classes – 1 in 6 on a full tuition college scholarship!)

With the prayers and financial support of many partners, children are gaining hope and lives and futures are being transformed in Minneapolis. I invite you to watch our Hope in a Half Hour video to see more of the impact.

Russ Gregg, Co-Founder and Head of School

See God’s Remarkable Work in Our Seniors

We’ve experienced a lot of challenges in Minneapolis over the past two years. But, Hope Academy seniors have shown incredible perseverance.

Last spring as juniors, these young men and women had the opportunity to travel to New Orleans, Louisiana, where they served alongside Hope Academy staff and ministry partners. Students worked hard all week to meet needs in the community, grew in friendships with classmates and adult mentors, worshipped together, and daily heard the Gospel. Many committed their lives to Christ!

“After the New Orleans mission trip, several young women were excited about continuing to learn more about the Lord,” shared Mrs. Hoilien, our Director of Student Support. “So, we started doing a Bible study. The women were committed to coming in two hours before school started on Friday mornings. I’m seeing students who are eager to spend time with the Lord. That has been so encouraging.”

COVID-19, violence, cultural divisions, and other enormous challenges have shaken our Minneapolis community and left many feeling hopeless. But, hope in God has kept our seniors moving forward.

“Our class is so full of joy and a hunger for Christ,” shared Nakila.

From tutoring and mentoring to leading in sports and on mission trips—these men and women are becoming lights for younger students, their families, and our city.

“Many of my classmates take time out of their mornings to come in to school and tutor other students,” shared Nathanael. “There are many captains who have really sought to push their teams forward and show what it means to be a leader.”

We’re so grateful for the many parents, teachers, staff, and partners who have invested in a remarkable, Christ-centered education for the students at Hope Academy.

Year after year, hundreds of urban youth are beating the odds, growing in excellence, and spreading hope to their families and our community.

See more of Hope Academy’s mission and impact in our Hope in a Half Hour video, and learn how you can partner with us in this work for Minneapolis children and families.

MLK’s Vision Alive at Hope Academy

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed of a nation where, one day, his children “will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”  

Reflecting on his life and vision, I’m reminded of the importance of God’s work at Hope Academy. We believe that who our students become is just as important as what they achieve; and that God is our source and model of true character. 

Our goal is to point children to Christ—who “came not to be served, but to serve” and to “lay down his life for his friends.”

That’s why the Gospel is so central to everything we do. Each day at Hope Academy, hundreds of urban youth learn about God and His Word; are treated with dignity as His image bearers; and experience His compassion and grace.

“As the excellence of steel is strength and the excellence of art is beauty, so the excellence of mankind is moral character. An honest man is the noblest work of God…” – A.W. Tozer

Through instruction, discipline, and heart-to-heart conversations, teachers encourage children to grow in faith and the H.O.P.E. values of honor, optimism, perseverance, and excellence. Students are challenged to seek goodness, truth, and beauty as they learn about God and His Creation, study Latin, read the Great Books of Western Literature, memorize our school’s creed, and think critically during Socratic discussions and debates.

Students also pray and worship together at weekly Chapel; and have the opportunity to lead and serve as mentors, team captains, on mission trips, and at other events throughout the year.

Despite the division and hostility in our world today, Hope Academy students—from different ethnicities, income levels, zip codes, and experiences—are growing together in faith and Christ-like character.

“With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

We invite you to watch students recite Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech:

See more of Hope Academy’s mission and impact in our Hope in a Half Hour video, and learn how you can partner with us in this work for Minneapolis children and families.