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Our Founding Story

Hope Academy was founded out of love for Minneapolis youth.

What started as a simple act of faith has blossomed into a remarkable, God-centered education for hundreds of children in Minneapolis and beyond.

Motivated by a desire to truly love his neighbors, Russ Gregg settled in the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis with his wife and family in the 1990s. However, because the local schools were under-performing, Russ opted to enroll his children in a private Christian school in Edina. Every morning on the way there, he would drive past his neighbors, most of whom could not afford a private, Christian education for their children. The education inequality gnawed at him, and he began praying that someone would start a Christian school that was accessible to his neighbors.

At the same time, Jeff Bird was in a Bible study when he felt a calling to start a school. Jeff and Russ met by divine appointment and shared their mutual call, meeting for six weeks to discuss their vision for a Christian school that would serve children in Minneapolis. During that time, Russ’s pastor preached from Romans 4 and challenged the congregation to “venture something for God that is a little bit crazy.” Russ felt this was God’s word for him, and he next day, he called Jeff. “I quit my job,” he said. “Let’s start this school.”  The next fall, in September 2000, Hope Academy began with 35 students in grades K-2.

Hope Academy Timeline:


Russ Gregg and Jeff Bird are called to start Hope Academy.


Hope Academy opens its doors in the education wing of Christ Church International in Minneapolis.


With 115 students in grades K-7, Hope Academy moves to its current location at 2300 Chicago Avenue South in Minneapolis.


Hope Academy begins to grow a high school with the addition of ninth grade.


Hope Academy serves 289 students in K-11th grade.


Hope Academy graduates its first senior class, with 100% of students accepted into a 2- or 4-year college.


Hope Academy serves 401 students in K-12th grade.


“Growing Hope” expansion is completed, including additional classrooms, a new gym, a cafeteria expansion, and two STEM labs.


God provides an opportunity for even more growth, allowing the cash purchase of our neighboring building. Learn more about the Hope Rising Campaign here.

We had no teachers, no students, no parents, no building—not even a promise of financial support. What we did have was a clear conviction that God cares about the youth of our city, and He calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves.”
Russ Gregg

Co-Founder and Head of School