STAFF SPOTLIGHT: MR. G

His Title:

Head of Family Ministry and Lower School Dean

What does he do?

Mr. G gets to organize Parent Covenant Events and shepherd the hearts of lower school students! He also facilitates a Kindergarten Parent Group, which is designed to build community and help K parents process and learn about the joys and pains of parenting. He even started a Boys to Men (Rites of Passage Group) for 4th and 5th grade guys to understand who they are and what they can be!

Favorite Memory:

“My favorite memory is having my children here at Hope in their middle school years, there is nothing like having your children in your school and being able to instruct them. I was the middle school Bible teacher at that time.”

   

Years at Hope:

He’s going into his 14th year at Hope!

Any advice for our parents?

“Parenting is extremely hard and full of sacrifices, so give yourself some GRACE, when it gets difficult!!!!!!!!!!”

Fun Facts:

1. Mr. G loves toys and even collects DC and Marvel action figures!

2. He loves Western movies. (His favorite is The Magnificent Seven!)

3. He is extremely scared of mice.

Thank you Mr. G for the way you point our students to Christ and love on them so well! Our Hope Academy community has been blessed by you in so many different ways the past 14 years, and we are forever changed for the better. Not everyone can be a preacher, teacher, and therapist all in one! Keep being you and shining for Jesus!

Watch Mr. G share about how Hope Academy is remarkable BEYOND the classroom!





Technology, the Trades, and More Career Paths for Students

Each year at Hope Academy, urban youth are gaining the knowledge, values, life skills, and opportunities to succeed at a traditional four-year college or university. Through our new HopeTECH initiative, students are also gaining an onramp to explore technology, construction, and other fast-growing trades:





In March, Associated Builders and Contractors reported a shortage of 430,000 construction professionals in 2021—with nearly a million more workers needed by the end of 2023 to meet increasing market demands. We’re also seeing significant growth in manufacturing[1] and considerable growth in other areas like Information Technology.[2] With a technical degree, graduates are quickly finding jobs in the trades, with strong entry-level pay. In 2020, nearly all graduates (95%) from Dunwoody College of Technology were employed in their field six months after graduation—at an average salary of $53,700[3]!

Hope Academy is working diligently to provide hundreds of urban youth in Minneapolis with access to learning opportunities in these and other growing fields—to help all of our students connect to meaningful and sustainable careers after graduation.

Since 2015, we have partnered with a local nonprofit, createMPLS, to provide coding and robotics classes and competitive teams for our students. In 2020, generous partners also helped us design and build a trades and technology learning lab and launch our HopeTECH Initiative—to provide students with more exposure and opportunities in technology and the skilled trades.

Over the past year, students have been enjoying enriching electives in coding, robotics, and woodworking, as well as required general technology courses that help build foundational skills and knowledge in these subjects.

We’ve been so grateful to see the joy on students’ faces as they explore, create, and discover new passions that could also open doors to promising future careers. Mrs. Hall, our technology integration specialist recently shared:

“Technology teaches students problem solving, it teaches them perseverance; it encourages them, and they are able to use their God-given gifts of creativity as well…I hope to develop through all of these programs a desire in the students to persevere, a desire in the students to attempt to do things that perhaps they thought were too challenging, and to consider fields that perhaps they thought were beyond them. I hope that they will understand that the world is open to them.”

This school year, we are expanding HopeTECH across our curriculum and offering several new electives for students—including Advanced Woodworking, Home Construction, Advanced Coding, Web Design, and Advanced Robotics.

Through a classical, Christ-centered education at Hope Academy, students are gaining essential values and habits like perseverance, timeliness, punctuality, honor, optimism, and service; developing a strong foundation of hope in Christ; and preparing to become the next leaders in our community, in business and commerce, in ministry, and in their homes.

Hope Academy is inviting employers, trade schools, and community members to help advance this work for urban youth in Minneapolis, by connecting more students to vocational training and pathways to employment.

We have several opportunities for you to partner with us this school year. You can visit a class to share about your career, volunteer with our robotics program second semester, sponsor the cost for a student to attend Hope Academy, provide internships and employment opportunities for students and graduates, and more!

To learn about investing in the future of work for students at Hope Academy, please contact alicynbolland@hopeschool.org.

 

[1] ABC: The Construction Industry Needs to Hire an Additional 430,000 Craft Professionals in 2021. Associated Builders and Contractors – National Office. (2021, March 23). https://www.abc.org/News-Media/News-Releases/entryid/18636/abc-the-construction-industry-needs-to-hire-an-additional-430-000-craft-professionals-in-2021.

[2] Janco Associates, Inc. (n.d.). IT Job Market and US National Employment Data. 2021 IT Job Market and BLS Data Analysis by Janco. https://www.e-janco.com/career/employmentdata.html.

[3] Newsroom, P. author B. (2021, June 29). Starting salaries continue to rise for Dunwoody Grads. Dunwoody College News. https://dunwoody.edu/news/2021/starting-salaries-continue-to-rise-for-dunwoody-grads/.

Growing Access, Excellence, and Opportunity this School Year

With the prayers, support, and partnership of many, we are thrilled to be welcoming more than 580 students to Hope Academy for 100% in-person learning this school year!

In light of everything that’s happened in our world – and in Minneapolis in particular – we know there’s much more work to be done. As we face new and increasing challenges, Hope Academy’s mission and purpose – to provide a remarkable, God-centered education for the youth of the city, and to foster hope in God in our community – haven’t changed.

In our 22nd year as a school, we’re committed to applying the same five strategies that have proven successful for hundreds of urban youth and their families, year after year: 1) a faith-based approach, 2) discipline & high expectations, 3) parental involvement, 4) accountability, and 5) our partner funding model. All parents have ‘skin in the game’ and pay a fair-share tuition amount for their children (10% of total cost); private donors cover the remaining 90%.

With Christ as our foundation and strength, Hope Academy is pursuing growth in three core areas this school year:

Access

With support from financial partners, Hope Academy is able to keep tuition affordable—providing a remarkable, Christ-centered education that is accessible to hundreds of urban families. To increase access in 2021-22, we are connecting with more families in need throughout Minneapolis, and preparing to serve up to 45 more students than last school year!

After nearly a year without in-person school, we expect that many of our new students will need extra help to catch up to their peers.  To ensure all of our students continue their growth, we have temporarily hired two new teachers to provide additional academic support in the classroom this school year.

We have also added a second 11th grade section, to support Hope Academy’s growing high school this year and beyond.

Excellence

Hope Academy teachers and staff are committed to growing in excellence, to honor God and provide the best possible education for urban children. Building on a strong foundation, we are:

  • Working with Great MN Schools to increase the rigor and caliber of our curriculum across K-12.
  • Training teachers in the Teaching for Transformation framework—to help deepen faith-formation in the hearts and minds of students.
  • Expanding technology resources and training to create more interactive lessons and help students build foundational skills for the future.

Opportunity

In addition to core classes, Hope Academy students enjoy music, art, athletics, technology, and many other subjects during the regular school year and through our 4-week summer session (mandatory K-8).

As Hope Academy grows, we’re excited to offer new and expanded opportunities in these and other enriching areas—to help students more fully see and reflect God’s image and become leaders and influencers in culture and our community.

Through HopeTECH programs in technology, robotics, coding, and woodworking, students are exploring new interests and building invaluable skills for the future. This school year, we’re incorporating more elements of HopeTECH into our core curriculum and offering new electives for 7-12th grade, including: Advanced Woodworking, Home Construction, Advanced Coding, Web Design, and Advanced Robotics; and we’re expanding partnerships with createMPLS, trade schools, and future employers to connect students to more opportunities in technology and the trades.

Each year, students also grow in areas of visual arts, musical theatre performance, persuasive speaking and writing, and more at Hope Academy. Believing that the arts help us more fully see and reflect God’s image, we’re excited to continue expanding HopeArts for students this school year and in future years.

 

As hundreds of students explore these new opportunities, they will continue to enjoy team sports and house tournaments; encourage one another through peer mentor groups; and practice leading and serving at Hope Academy, on mission trips, and in the community. We thank God for making all of this possible for our students and families—through many of you! Especially over the past year, you helped us provide the extra resources to navigate tremendous challenges and keep children moving forward. At a time when many were disconnected and falling behind, Hope Academy students enjoyed a stable and caring school environment, gained academic ground, and many have been changed by the Gospel.

 

One parent recently shared: “I have seen a complete transformation in [my daughter] for the better! We love the teachers, people, and she’s made a lot of new friends, and most importantly she has come to know and love God!!”

 

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

 

 

Spreading Hope to Five New Cities, and Counting!

Four years ago, many of you helped make room for 700 children to attend Hope Academy through the Growing Hope Capital Campaign.

With a new gym, expanded cafeteria, and additional classroom spaces, we’re excited to welcome more families each year to a remarkable, Christ-centered education in Minneapolis.

Through Growing Hope, you also helped launch the Spreading Hope Network—a nationwide initiative to create more Hope Academy-like schools in high-need urban areas across the US. (Schools funded and operated independent of Hope Academy.)

Today, we’re celebrating:

Five new schools open, and five schools launching soon!

Hundreds of Children Enjoying Access to a Quality, Classical, Christian Education.

Hope Spreading to families and communities!

Hundreds of leaders equipped to serve thousands of inner-city children in God-centered schools.

21 years ago, God gave Russ Gregg the courage to quit his job and do something crazy: start a school for his neighbors’ children in Minneapolis. Since then, Hope Academy has grown from serving 35 students K-2 to 545 students K-12. And, leaders from across the country are catching the vision to start God-centered schools in their home cities.

Join Jim Stigman as he interviews Spreading Hope leadership on Monday, August 30th from 4-4:30PM — to learn about Spreading Hope’s impact, model, and vision for the future.


Register Now!

Or visit spreadinghopenetwork.org to learn more.

Cultural Harmony in Urban Education: 10 Guiding Principles

With thousands of students representing many different ethnicities, Minneapolis has one of the most beautifully diverse school systems across all of Minnesota—providing a wonderful opportunity for us to learn from many unique perspectives.

Yet, we are also living and working in one of the most contentious cultural spaces in America. Amid starkly opposing viewpoints that are being fueled by a constant influx of news and social media, navigating the current climate feels more challenging than ever.

With so much division, how do we create cultural harmony in schools and the workplace, and a society where all people can thrive?

Hope Academy believes that God’s love has the power to create unity across cultures, ethnicities, income levels, and political parties. As our school creed states, “We are a kingdom school”; and Jesus said to his disciples, “my kingdom is not of this world.” This means we have the distinct joy of pursuing a higher calling—to love God and each other, even and especially in our differences. Ten guiding principles have helped us continue this growth as a school community:

Our 10 Guiding Principles

1. We believe our commitment to the supreme authority and truth of the Scriptures deeply impacts our understanding of cultural harmony and should inform both our strategies and tactics of how we pursue the unity of the Spirit together.

2. We believe that perspective matters, and ideas have consequences. Therefore, we believe the Bible gives us a distinctively God-centered way to understand issues of race, justice, culture, equity, and reconciliation. We recognize that while secular resources may be helpful, they are often lacking in truth or love and will need to be aligned to a biblical perspective.

3. We believe that our identity in Christ supersedes all other identities. Recognizing two over-arching, super-bloodlines (we are image-bearers of God and blood-bought members of the family of God) profoundly affects our pursuit of cultural harmony. Submitted to these two super-bloodlines, culture and ethnicity will flourish as beautiful creations of God that should be recognized, engaged, and celebrated because they ultimately help us to know and love God better.

4. We believe that understanding both the original and on-going sin-nature of every human being is essential in our pursuit of cultural harmony. This implies on-going vigilance, self-examination, and repentance for bias, abuse of power, and prejudice.

5. We believe the gospel of Jesus Christ is powerful enough to help us do the necessary work of recognizing historic sins of racism with honesty, humility, and hope. We lament the painful legacy that racism and discrimination have left our society, and we are committed to fighting it in every form, personally and systemically.

6. We believe the gospel of the forgiveness of sins through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit fundamentally infuses our pursuit of cultural harmony with hope when we are tempted to despair.

7. We believe Jesus’ jubilee commitment to lead a movement that “proclaims good news to the poor and sets at liberty those who are oppressed” (Isaiah 61:1-3; Mark 4:18-19) means that our responsibility to prepare servant leaders equipped to practice justice is not optional.

8. We believe the family is a primary institution of faith formation and development. We will leverage the distinctive, God-given role of the family in shaping children’s humble, wise, and courageous hearts for engaging in the flourishing of cultural harmony.

9. We believe that role models are important and necessary in growing up into the love of God and the character of Christ. We will intentionally pursue staff who deeply understand and sympathize with our students’ life experiences because our parents and students have told us this is important to them.

10. We believe that we can maintain the unity of the spirit by “bringing every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:5) We will expose Satan’s wicked lies designed to sabotage kingdom initiatives and divide the people of God.

Jesus prayed that his followers would “all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.“(John 17:20-21)

As a private, Christian K-12 school—serving hundreds of families in some of the highest need areas of Minneapolis—Hope Academy has a unique opportunity to display God’s love and mercy, as evidenced by cultural harmony within our school community.

We invite you to watch as Hope Academy students recite Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and to join us in praying for and pursuing the unity of our Lord, who calls his followers to peace.





How can we help struggling students recover from COVID learning loss? Together.

COVID-19 has caused seismic disruptions in education. As is often the case, low-income, urban children have suffered disproportionately. In Minneapolis and St. Paul, tens of thousands of youth missed nearly a year of in-person learning. Children from low-income families also had significantly less access to technology, live online instruction, and support.

Together, these factors – compounded by racial tensions, violence, and other trauma – have taken a devastating toll on children. Now, as we plan for the coming school year, many are asking: how can we help struggling students move forward?

Through the years, we’ve applied five core strategies that have proven successful for our students – strategies that we believe are essential for helping urban youth persevere and excel in this present moment:

1. Give Students Real Hope

As students walk through the doors of Hope Academy, many have already faced significant challenges. Most of our students are living near or below poverty level, and many have experienced high amounts of trauma. That’s why a core aspect of our mission is to foster hope in God for our students, families, and city.

Beginning in kindergarten, students memorize the Hope Academy Declaration, learning that “God loves me—beyond my imagination” and that “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Third graders study the story of Joseph, and discover that sometimes God allows hard things to happen as part of his bigger story of redemption. Teachers pray with, disciple, and encourage their students daily to help each child know and walk with God.

At Hope Academy, we’ve seen that perseverance doesn’t come by looking inward, but looking upward. Whether you are a parent, teacher, family member or neighbor, you can point a child to Christ in this season. Start by asking God for help. He is for you, and He has made great promises to be your strength.

2. Partner with Parents

Numerous studies have found that, when parents are actively involved at school, children do better academically, socially, and emotionally–and are more likely to succeed long-term (Kelty & Wakabayashi, 2020) [1].

Hope Academy works especially hard to build strong partnerships with urban families, and to equip and support each parent for the success of their child. Teachers personally connect with parents often throughout the year.

We do a “home visit” with every student and their family during the Minnesota Education Association Break. Each year, parents are required to attend two Saturday school parenting workshops, two parent-teacher conferences, and receive parent report cards to provide accountability and celebrate success.

Years of trust-building, investing in relationships, and accountability have resulted in remarkable engagement at Hope Academy. Even during a pandemic, students were actively involved in their classes (with 96% attendance), and 98% of parents completed their conferences.

Schools and parents—partnering together is one of the most important things we can do for our children’s success.

3. Provide Support and Accountability

At Hope Academy, we call all of our students to high standards; and we provide the support and resources they need to excel.

About two thirds of Hope Academy students receive additional academic, social, and emotional/behavioral support—to help them combat the effects of poverty, trauma, and other challenges. Teachers and staff invest significant additional time to build trust and relationships with students, and to understand the root causes of academic and behavioral challenges.

Though there have been many setbacks for the youth of our city, we cannot lower our expectations. This would be a significant injustice. We can, however, invest more time, attention, and support to help each student rise to the challenge. A Christian academy private school is well-equipped to do just that.

At Hope Academy, we’ll be increasing math and reading support in the classroom this coming school year. Parents, we encourage you to visit the library with your children and to spend time reading together every day. If you don’t have children, consider becoming a tutor or mentor. Your time is one of the greatest gifts you can give to a child.

4. Encourage Continued Growth and Excellence

Research shows that low-income youth typically suffer the greatest learning losses during summer (McCombs et al., 2020) [2]. With support from Hope Academy’s summer school program, students are beating these odds. Each year from June to July, our K-8 students receive critical support in areas like math and reading; expand their learning through new subjects and electives; connect with caring teachers and staff; and continue building friendships with their classmates.

This year and next year, summer school will be more important than ever for helping students—especially students from economically disadvantaged families—combat learning loss, trauma, and other challenges, and prepare for success at the next grade level.

5. Work Together to Increase Access

The past 16 months have reminded us of just how much a remarkable, God-centered education is needed for children in Minneapolis. We’re working hard to connect with more families who live in the highest-need areas of our city (with an emphasis on reaching low-income, families of color), and to welcome more students to Hope Academy in the fall.

For 21 years, volunteers, partner organizations, and donors have helped us serve hundreds of families who couldn’t otherwise afford to send their children to a private school, much less a Christian Academy. At Hope Academy, no child is ever turned away for lack of funds. Through our Partner-Student sponsorship program, each family has ‘skin in the game’ and contributes a sacrificial tuition amount (together providing 10% of the cost to educate our students). Hundreds of financial partners generously provide for the remaining 90%—keeping Hope Academy accessible to all.

Partnering with Hope Academy is a significant way you can support struggling students in Minneapolis. We invite you to learn more here. 

COVID-19 has brought to light many inequities in urban education—inequalities that, sadly, have persisted for many years. But, at Hope Academy, these five strategies are helping urban youth persevere and achieve excellence, year after year.

There is Hope, if we continue to lean on the Lord, work hard, and fight this fight together.

Learn more about Hope Academy’s approach and impact in urban education by watching our Hope in a Half Hour video story.

[1] Kelty, N. E., & Wakabayashi, T. (2020). Family Engagement in Schools: Parent, Educator, and Community Perspectives. SAGE Open, 10(4), 215824402097302. https://doi.org/10.1177/2158244020973024

[2] McCombs, J. S., Augustine, C. H., Pane, J. F., & Schweig, J. (2020). (rep.). Every Summer Counts: A Longitudinal Analysis of Outcomes from the National Summer Learning Project. RAND Corporation. Retrieved from https://www.wallacefoundation.org/knowledge-center/pages/every-summer-counts-a-longitudinal-analysis-of-outcomes-from-the-national-summer-learning-project.aspx

Is There Hope for Minneapolis?

COVID-19 cases are declining, mask mandates have lifted, and businesses are opening back up again. Summer in Minnesota feels more hopeful this year, doesn’t it?

Many of us are seeing loved ones we haven’t seen in months. We’re celebrating graduations, birthdays, reunions, and simple pleasures like eating at restaurants. Kids are playing sports, and enjoying programs and camps. We’re excited to embrace normal life again.

But, for many of our urban neighbors—especially in Minneapolis—it’s going to be a longer road to recovery. After nearly a year of distance learning only, social disconnection, and inconsistent support, thousands of youth in our city are heading into a new school year unprepared. With fewer resources and supports, low-income children of color have been impacted more severely —suffering up to a full year of learning loss, according to the latest national estimates by McKinsey & Company in December 2020 [1].

The compounded effects of last summer’s rioting and unrest–plus near-record levels of violent crime this year—have continued to deeply impact urban families. So far in 2021, there have been more than 3,000 violent crimes reported in our city, including 46 homicides (City of Minneapolis, July 2021) [2].

What’s the solution?

Education seems to be the logical answer. People with a high school diploma or advanced degree are much more likely to have higher earnings and to avoid incarceration. In America, the median annual income for a full-time employed young adult (age 25-34) with a Bachelor’s degree is nearly two times higher than the median annual income of a young adult with no high school diploma (National Center for Education Statistics, 2019) [3].

Sadly, in Minnesota state prisons, only 29% of inmates have a traditional high school diploma (MN Department of Corrections, 2021) [4].

In 2017, The Alliance for Excellent Education estimated that, across the Twin Cities metro, higher graduation rates for just one  high school class would lead to millions of dollars in additional earned income, millions of dollars in public healthcare savings, substantial job growth, and a stronger overall economy [5]

Academic achievement plays an important role in financial success, and can serve as a powerful deterrent from crime. But, as parents and educators, we have to be careful not to focus on teaching head knowledge at the expense of shaping values and character.

As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said:

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”

At Hope Academy, we focus on feeding both the hearts and minds of our students. We believe every child was made in the image of God and is capable of achieving great things.

Through a classical, Christian K-12 education, 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.

Our goal is to teach students how to think, not just what to think—to help students discern what is true and false, and what to treasure as they engage with the world around them. One of our teachers shares more about classical education at Hope Academy in this video.

“Our hope is not just to elevate our students’ understanding or status, we want them to come to know their Savior, and we want to raise disciples."

Hope Academy Teacher

Teachers and staff also seek to model Christ to their students daily, and encourage each child to grow in faith and the H.O.P.E values of honor, optimism, perseverance, and excellence. Students pray and worship together, mentor younger peers, and serve in the community. Report cards measure growth in both character and academics.

In our 21st year as a school, we’re beginning to see more of the long-term fruit of this work as students graduate from Hope Academy, pursue higher education, advance in careers, and grow as followers of Christ.

Kenneth graduated from Hope Academy in 2018 and is now a first-generation college student at the University of Northwestern-St. Paul, on a full-ride, full-need scholarship. During the 2019-20 school year, he and several Hope Academy alumni mentored younger students through a local youth ministry, and served our South Minneapolis community following the devastating riots.

Israel graduated this spring and will become a first-generation college student in the fall, on a significant scholarship to the University of Minnesota-Carlson School of Management.

Aaleyah also graduated from Hope Academy this spring on a full-ride scholarship to Hillsdale College. At our graduation ceremony, Aaleyah shared:

“In a time when political, ethnic, and ideological divisions are tearing our communities apart, our time at Hope has taught us the truth… We have learned the values that are essential to righteously fight for justice: human dignity, sacrificial love, and forgiveness.” 

We’re so grateful to see Hope Academy students living out these values and fostering hope in God throughout our community. For more encouraging stories, take a look at our Annual Report here:

If you’d like to take a deeper look at Hope Academy, we invite you to watch our Hope in a Half Hour video story—to see how a remarkable, Christian education is bringing hope to Minneapolis at time when it couldn’t be more needed.

[1] Dorn, E., Hancock, B., Sarakatsannis, J., & Viruleg, E. (2020, December 8). COVID-19 and learning loss–disparities grow and students need help. https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/public-and-social-sector/our-insights/covid-19-and-learning-loss-disparities-grow-and-students-need-help.

[2] City of Minneapolis. (n.d.). Crime statistics dashboard. Police Crime Statistics Dashboard – City of Minneapolis. https://www.minneapolismn.gov/government/government-data/datasource/crime-statistics-dashboard/.

[3] National Center for Education Statistics. (2019). Table 502.30. Median annual earnings of full-time year-round workers 25 to 34 years old and full-time year-round workers as a percentage of the labor force, by sex, race/ethnicity, and educational attainment: Selected years, 1995 through 2018. https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d19/tables/dt19_502.30.asp.

[4] MN Department of Corrections . (2021). (rep.). Minnesota Department of Corrections Adult Prison Population Summary. Retrieved from https://mn.gov/doc/assets/Adult%20Prison%20Population%20Summary%201-1-2021_tcm1089-467125.pdf

[5] Alliance for Excellent Education, December 2017. Retrieved from http://impact.all4ed.org/Infographics/MSA/Minneapolis-Saint%20Paul-Bloomington-MN-WI-MSA-GradEffect-Infographic-FINAL.pdf

Helping Your Child Succeed from Kindergarten Graduation to High School Graduation

Every parent wants their child to succeed.

Kindergarten graduation should only be the first of many future graduations throughout a child’s life and education.

Sadly, for many children in Minneapolis, there will be no high school graduation. By God’s grace, the tide is turning for the youth of our city at Hope Academy. 

Across all classes, a remarkable 96% of our seniors have graduated on time—one in six on full-tuition college scholarships! Graduates are pursuing higher education, advancing in their careers, growing in faith, and becoming leaders and mentors in their families and communities. 

So, where does this all start? Kindergarten.

“Kindergarten launches a child into their capacity to learn for life; and so, in some ways, kindergarten is more important than any other grade.”

Alicia Carman, Kindergarten Teacher

Beginning with our youngest learners, Hope Academy focuses on educating the whole child and helping each student live up to his or her God-given potential. One of our parents shared:

“They genuinely care how the students are doing. If he even lags behind a little bit, they give him all the necessary help to keep him ahead of the game. It’s just all-around a wonderful school, and I would recommend it to anybody.”

Hope Academy Mom

At Hope Academy, we believe partnering with parents is one of the most important things we can do for a child’s success. Our goal is to provide a community where students and parents feel welcome and loved and where children can thrive in kindergarten and beyond.

“If a parent is confident, that confidence is known very quickly by a five-year-old,”  shared Shalom Mui, one of our Kindergarten teachers.

“My greatest suggestion is to get all of your questions answered as a parent. Feel confident. Feel assured. Know what’s happening in that space so that your child can see and feel that you are confident—that that is a good place God is calling your family to this upcoming school year."

Shalom Mui, Kindergarten Teacher

What else is unique about Hope Academy–and can help your child succeed?

Watch as our parents, students, and teachers share more:

We are so excited to welcome 60 new kindergarten students to Hope Academy in the coming school year. Thanks to the generosity of our financial partners, we are able to keep tuition affordable for all—making a remarkable, God-centered K-12 education accessible to all our neighbors.

If your family is interested in Hope Academy’s programming, we invite you to learn more by contacting our Admissions Team! They would love to speak with you and answer any questions you might have. 

We also want to encourage you with two ways you can help ensure that your child’s kindergarten graduation is the first of many future graduations.

  1. Read with your child every day.
    While we’ve all had to rely on more screens over the past year, one of the best things we can do for our children is to turn off the TV and read. Reading wonderful books will help your child gain more confidence, improve focus and memory, develop a more profound love for learning, and prepare for long-term success. We challenge you to read with your child for 30 minutes each day. You won’t regret it! 
  2. Pray regularly for your child. 
    God’s Word says that we can be confident of this: that the Lord who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6). Our hope for our children’s future ultimately depends on God. And, He Is faithful! Ask God to provide you with wisdom and strength as a parent and to help your child know and love Him, and to grow into oaks of righteousness as they advance from kindergarten graduation to 12th-grade graduation and beyond.  

May God bless you with more joy in Him each day and as you prepare for this coming school year!

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!