Friendship Church’s history includes a rich involvement in missions around the world, but did you know that we also support a number of Gospel-focused organizations in Minnesota? One of those organizations is Hope Academy, a K-12 school located in the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis, an area known for poverty and violent crime. Located at 2300 Chicago Avenue, the school is only blocks away from where demonstrations around the tragic death of George Floyd took place. In the midst of this often-troubled neighborhood, Hope Academy shines as a strong presence that truly lives up to its name. Its mission is to foster hope in God in the inner-city by providing youth with a remarkable, Christ-centered education. What makes the education the students receive at Hope Academy so remarkable? And what qualifies it as a mission organization supported by Friendship Church?
Students at Hope Academy receive an excellent, God-centered education.
The staff of Hope Academy share a core conviction that all people are created in the image of God and deserving of an excellent, God-centered education. They believe that an academically rigorous course of study is the best way to prepare students to deal purposefully and responsibly with the complex issues of living in today’s world. All subjects are taught as part of an integrated whole with the Scriptures at the center. Students are equipped to know and love the truth and to utilize that knowledge to respect, honor, and glorify God in all things. A Hope Academy education is a rare and beautiful thing, embracing and promoting growth of mind, body, emotions, spirit, and character. Students are graded not only on academic performance, but on Christian character. 91% of students believe Hope has been essential to their development of a Christian worldview and more than half of students in grades 6-12 have committed or recommitted their lives to Christ through Hope. Not only are the students receiving an excellent education, they are watching the Gospel being lived out in daily doses through those around them. The essence of this God-centered education is perhaps best summed up in “The Hope Declaration”, which the students learn early on and recite as their creed on a regular basis. If you want inspiration, hope, and encouragement as you read this, you can watch the second graders recite this powerful, Scripture-rich declaration here: https://youtu.be/Iwl0qzHDSA8
Students are taught by a highly-qualified staff that is committed to serve as Christ’s examples.
All Hope Academy staff are held to the highest personal and professional standards. They are deeply invested in making a significant, lasting impact for inner-city youth and their families and disciple their students through daily prayer and heart-to-heart conversations. The majority of staff live in the Minneapolis neighborhoods Hope serves and 75% of founding staff are still involved at the school. Staff go to great lengths to build strong partnerships with urban parents, and to foster hope in God for each family. Teachers connect personally with parents often throughout the year and visit each student at home over the MEA break in October. One parent shared: “It’s hard to explain the feelings I have about Hope Academy. The teachers care about my kids like their own and are with us to help bring forth young men and women of the Lord.”
Parental involvement is taken seriously and covenanted.
It is a well-known fact that parental involvement in children’s education is critical, and the staff at Hope Academy takes the role of parents in education very seriously. There is an authentic and purposeful partnership between school staff and parents. Each Hope Academy parent agrees to attend 7 events and volunteer at any 2 all school events as part of their parent covenant. Parents also receive other types of support as desired and needed to foster their growth as believers and to better equip them for parenting in today’s world. Hope staff provide parenting workshops, Bible studies, and social work services for families to help encourage, equip, and support each parent as the most important teacher in their child’s life. All of this greatly contributes to the success of the Hope students.
God’s hand is evident in Hope’s steady growth and multiplication of its educational model.
Hope Academy began in 2000 in a church basement with 35 students in grades K-2. In 2006 with 115 K-7 students, God provided a 200,000 square foot building to provide for future growth. The high school was started in 2008 with the addition of 9th grade. Each year additional students were added and in 2012 the first senior class graduated, with 100% of its students accepted into a 2 or 4 year college. In 2015, the size of the Kindergarten doubled. Then in 2016, Hope leadership took a bold step with the Growing Hope Capital Campaign. This valiant effort generated funding to not only allow for 275 more students and additional learning space in the school’s current building, but also served as a catalyst for the multiplication of the Hope education model to other cities. When the Growing Hope plan was completed in 2019, Hope Academy Minneapolis expanded the student population to 550 students and gained the addition of a new science wing, 10 new classrooms, a new computer lab, a new gymnasium, an expanded cafeteria, student support rooms, and new art and music rooms. Through this same campaign, the Hope-spearheaded Spreading Hope Network launched four new schools in other states, all sharing the same God-centered education model as Hope Minneapolis. For more information on Spreading Hope, visit: https://spreadinghopenetwork.org/ .
The Hope community provides a glimpse of what believers will one day experience in heaven.
The staff and students at Hope Academy are beautifully diverse, comprised of African, African American, biracial, Latino/Hispanic, Caucasian, Asian/Island Pacific, and Native American representatives. Many students are multi-lingual, with a wide variety of languages spoken. When I visit Hope Academy and witness all of these ambassadors of Christ learning together in harmony under one roof, it feels like I am experiencing what it will one day be like in heaven, when believers will stand before the throne of God with brothers and sisters from every nation, tribe, people, and language (Revelation 7:9). I have had the sense that I am standing on holy ground in my privileged visits to Hope and God’s presence there is evident. At a time when racial tensions are running very high, the members of Hope Academy are living proof that God graces us to love one another and thrive in diverse community together. What a beautiful example this community is!
It gives the Church the opportunity to love like Jesus and make an eternal investment.
Most Christian schools charge tuition to cover 90% of costs and raise 10%. Because of the calling the Lord placed on founders Russ Greg and Jeff Bird and the needs of the community they serve, nearly 90% of the costs at Hope are covered by generous giving. Family tuition is determined on a sliding scale and partners cover the rest. With the median household income in 2019 for a Hope Academy household at $34,800 and the education cost per student at Hope being $11,700, a wide gap exists between these two numbers. This is where the Church has an opportunity to love our neighbors. The words of Jesus in Matthew 6:20-21 tell us to “store up for yourselves treasures in heaven….for where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.” There is an eternal purpose in investing our time, talent, and treasure in Gospel efforts, but there is also a blessing this side of heaven for the investor. Those who have made this investment in Hope Academy experience a joy and hope in doing so. We are part of a peacemaking, unifying army working together for God’s Kingdom.
Have you wanted to get involved in urban Kingdom work, but haven’t found a place that seems to be the right fit? Involvement at Hope presents ways to engage your time, talent, and treasure. A wide variety of volunteer opportunities are available. Getting involved through prayer and/or finances at Hope Academy makes an investment not only in remarkable education, but also in excellent and strategic discipleship. These disciples are being trained up within the context of what is happening in urban settings in our current world, equipping them to spread the hope of the Gospel both now and into the future wherever God takes them in their daily lives. They understand how to navigate sensitive and difficult life circumstances and purposefully sow peace and unity instead of unrest and discord. These disciples are a breath of fresh air and a Godly response to the negativity present all around us. Would you like more information about Hope Academy? Visit http://hopeschool.org or sign up for a virtual tour at http://hopeschool.org/visit/ .