HOPE Christian Schools building $3.27 million school

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | Alan J. Borsuk

HOPE Christian Schools, a network of three north side schools known for structured and demanding programs, is taking a big step forward with construction of a $3.27 million building.

The new building, at 3601 N. Port Washington Ave., will allow the HOPE Middle School to be restructured as a kindergarten through eighth-grade program. The school is now located in the Holton Youth Center at 510 E. Burleigh St.

HOPE is affiliated with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod and also includes a K-8 school at 2345 N. 25th St. and a high school at 3215 N. King Drive. Together, the schools have more than 500 students, almost all of them participants in Wisconsin’s private school voucher program.

HOPE leaders said they aim to open in September in the new building, offering 4- and 5-year-old kindergarten and first and second grades along with middle school grades. The middle school currently has about 70 students. Plans call for the new school to have about 250 students in all grades within five years.

The two-story building under construction now will primarily consist of classrooms. Fund raising is under way for a $2.5 million second stage of construction that would add a gym, library, cafeteria and additional classrooms.

“With the support of our local and national partners, we will put thousands of children on the path to college and contribute to efforts to help Milwaukee build and maintain a viable work force,” Andrew Neumann, president of the HOPE network, said in a statement.

Money for the first stage of the new building came from donors, including the Siebert Lutheran Foundation, the Elizabeth A. Brinn Foundation and PAVE, an organization that has helped schools, primarily in the voucher program, for more than 15 years. The effort also received a $1 million low-interest loan from an organization known as the Illinois Facilities Fund.

Among other major supporters of HOPE in recent years is Thrivent Financial for Lutherans and its foundation.

The new building is being designed not only to be energy efficient – with some solar and geothermal power features – but to have those systems exposed and easily viewable so students can learn from them.

The HOPE network began in 2002 with about 50 students in the facility on N. 25th St.

The schools require students to wear uniforms, have strict codes of behavior and generally use educational materials that emphasize building skills. There is also a strong emphasis on Christian content during the school day.

In addition to its obvious meaning, HOPE is an acronym for Hold Onto the Promises Everywhere. “The promises” include fulfillment of religious as well as academic aspirations.