starting a God-centered school for at risk youth is crazy
We believe the nationwide education crisis in under resourced communities stems from a famine of imago Dei education. In 1999, God used a dear friend, and a timely sermon, to give Russ Gregg the courage to quit his job and do something crazy: start a school for his neighbors’ children. Over 20 years have learned from many people, and through trial and error.
If you are being called to start a new God-centered school in your home city, we are ready to partner with the Lord and you in this critical work. You only get one chance to start, and we want to help you start well.
Who We Are
Spreading Hope Staff
Russ Gregg — Head of School, Hope Academy
Areas of Expertise: Visionary Leadership, Governance, School Culture, Classical Education The Achievement Gap, Urban Christian Education, The Case for Christian Schooling, Sermons on various Biblical passages
Dan Olson — Executive Director, Spreading Hope
Areas of Expertise: Christian Stewardship and Development Model, Governance, School Operations and Policy, Leadership Assessment
Debbie Harris — Classroom Fellow & Coordinator
Areas of Expertise: Classroom Governance, Classical Pedagogy, Elementary Curriculum and Instruction, Coaching Teachers, Shepherding a Child’s Heart
Board of Advisors
Vernard Gant — Director, A.C.E. Student Success Center (ACSI)
Jeff Blamer — VP of Member Services, Christian Schools International
Karen Brown — Edge Brown Consulting Group
Eric Cook — Executive Director, Society for Classical Learning
George Sanker — Head of School, Covenant School (Charlottesville, VA)
Kent Vanderwood — Vice President, The Timothy Group
Board of Directors
Brad Pieper — Lexington Manufacturing
Brad Pieper (MBA, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University) is the President of Eurofins Technologies North America. He previously served as the VP of sales and marketing for Microbiologics. For five years, he was a managing consultant with McKinsey & Company, where he assisted in K-12 education reform initiatives with Minnesota’s Department of Education. He also led soldiers during combat in Iraq as a Field Artillery officer in the United States Army, and is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point. Brad is an active outdoorsman enjoying big-mountain skiing, waterskiing, ice hockey, and single-track mountain biking. He has a passion for urban classical education and serves on the board of both Spreading Hope Network and Hope Academy.
Russ Gregg — Head of School, Hope Academy
Dan Olson — Executive Director, Spreading Hope Network
Jeff Bird, JD, President, NBW Insurance
Jeff Bird (J.D., CLU) was the co-founder of Hope Academy, where he served as Board President from 2000-2019. Mr. Bird grew up on a farm near Marcus, Iowa and has also helped start the Hope Farm School. Since 1991, he has worked with NBW Insurance (previously The Brehm Group), with expertise in individual life insurance, qualified and non-qualified retirement plans, and estate planning as well as serving as General Counsel for the company. Mr. Bird has previously served on the boards of the Pilgrim Center for Reconciliation, The Gospel Association of India, and Total Victory Christian Center. He enjoys mentoring youth and leading a men’s weekly Bible study group. Mr. Bird is married with six children and lives in Minneapolis.
Taking a proven model, the Spreading Hope Network exists to kick-start God-centered schools for children of the city. We like to speak via zoom with you and then invite you to join us for a visit as we help you sharpen your dream of a new school launch!
1. Contact us! — Reach out to us today for a one-hour zoom call with a member of the Spreading Hope Network team.
2. Take the Plunge — We host you for an on-site visit and give you guided reading and resources to start you on your journey.
3. Assess & Prepare — We provide a visionary leader screening and strategic launch assessment that is tailored to your school. We also provide logistical advice and direction in assembling your school’s launch team and preparing for our founders program.
Spreading Hope. We started our school in 2014 and now serve 80 students in grades K-5. I can’t imagine where we would be
without their support and direction.”
and Dream Big
We select Founders from among our Fellows for a two-year school planting partnership through to launch.
14 months pre-launch
We facilitate an initial one, five and ten year strategic plan and help you outline a path to launch.
11 months pre-launch
We help you inspire Partners with a case statement, a vision event with Russ Gregg, and careful follow-up.
9 months pre-launch
We guide as you canvas your area to enroll target families and raise awareness.
3-5 months pre-launch
We help you hire teachers and staff, including a search for your director of development.
Staff development week
We help you to train your staff on key processes (fundraising, family ministry, classical education and cultural competency).
September-July of launch year
We advise you in your launch year as you contextualize and adapt the model.
Kickstart your own school
Subscribe to our monthly newsletter, and we'll send you a free white paper — "8 First Steps for School Planters". We’ll also send you a free ebook from Russ Gregg: “.”
Hope Academy is a flagship for our Christian schools. The development and growth of Christian schools like Hope Academy is so encouraging. CSI is excited by the school planting efforts of the Spreading Hope team.