St. HOPE Academy, founded in 1989 by NBA All-Star Kevin Johnson, is a youth development organization in the Oak Park neighborhood of Sacramento.St. HOPE Academy was designed to supplement Sacramento's public education system and offer a structured, positive environment for educational opportunities, leadership training, character development, spiritual growth and physical well-being. In January 1992, Johnson collaborated with public school officials, college and university officials, local business leaders, foundations, corporations, law enforcement agencies and private citizens to construct a 7,000 square foot youth development facility comprised of classrooms, a library, a small computer lab, a recreation room, a counseling room, a chapel, a study hall, a dining area and administrative offices. Within this facility, St. HOPE Academy imparts self-confidence, self-reliance, responsibility and leadership to disadvantaged, minority and low-income youth.
St. HOPE Academy employs a headmaster, administration director, receptionist, chaplain and four full-time teachers. There are also more than 200 local volunteers that support the academy and the 60 youth, ages 8-18, that it serves. Every program offered by St. HOPE Academy emphasizes education, "wellness" and spiritual edification. The Academic Program includes a curriculum of language arts, mathematics, wellness and health, dance, drama, music and Christian education. St. HOPE Academy also provides several character-building programs. Through the Friends Eating and Sharing Together Program (FEAST), families in the Sacramento community volunteer to host academy students in their homes for dinner and conversation twice during the school year. By way of this experience, the children observe how other families interact and begin to understand different cultures. The Mentor Program matches each student with a responsible adult who volunteers to serve as a friend and role model. Mentors, who are matched to students according to the child's career aspirations and interests, make a one-year commitment to the child. Through the Neighborhood Improvement Team Program, Academy students receive hands-on experience in community improvement while assisting the needy and elderly with the maintenance of their property and households.
St. HOPE Academy provides services for 60 students in grades three through 12 every year. Since its inception, St. HOPE Academy has enrolled about 350 students. Eighty-five percent of the students who have attended St. HOPE Academy have been able to increase their grade level by at least one grade beyond where they were expected to stand. St. HOPE Academy's students also have a high average school attendance record, with 97 percent of the students never missing a class in school.