What does providing Imago Dei education—the kind of remarkable, God-centered education provided at schools like Hope Academy—mean for at risk youth in our nation’s cities? It means at least these eight things:

First, the mis-education of at-risk youth should be viewed as one of the most important social justice issues of our day.

Second, it means one of best strategies to redeem and transform our cities is a great school that shapes a generation of wise leaders who love what God loves and hate what God hates.

Third, it means that all children are image bearers of God. A school for our neighbors has to be a remarkable school — not just an average one. It has to be the kind of school that everyone would want their own children to attend.

Fourth, it means that because our chief problem is sin, and because Christ is the great Savior from sin, a school must be grounded in the gospel and the teachings of Christ.

Fifth, it means that under-resourced parents should not be ignored but instead be deeply involved in the education of their children — they must some real skin in the game.

Sixth, it means doing the really hard work of holding teachers, parents, and students accountable for their responsibilities.

Seventh, it means that results really do matter, and that we actually have to work to close the achievement gap.

Eighth and finally, because it is currently against the laws of more than half the states in our country to use taxpayer dollars to provide Imago Dei education to a child, it means that brothers and sisters living outside the neighborhood will need to help bear the burden and partner with under resourced families to make this kind of school affordable for everyone.

Note: This is an edited excerpt from Russ Gregg’s recently released book, The Mark of God and Our Education Crisis (Spreading Hope).