St. Hope began in 1989 in a portable classroom at Sacramento High School as an after school program named St. Hope Academy. Founded by NBA All-Star, Oak Park native, and future-Mayor Kevin Johnson, St. Hope is a nonprofit community development corporation whose mission is to revitalize inner-city communities through public education, civic leadership, economic development, and the arts.
St. Hope has dramatically improved Oak Park through its holistic community development approach, and has made a major economic impact and contribution in the community. St. Hope has started, attracted, or catalyzed the creation of 20 businesses throughout the community resulting in nearly 300 jobs. These efforts have generated a significant infusion of capital in the community, including more than $10 million in economic and real estate development investments.
St. Hope has birthed two major revitalization projects that have initiated an education and economic resurgence in the underserved, inner-city community of Oak Park. In May 2003, St. Hope opened the 40 Acres Art and Cultural Center, a 25,000 square foot mixed-use facility located in the heart of Oak Park’s commercial district. Housing a Starbucks, a bookstore, a barbershop, 12 loft-style apartments, a world-class art gallery, and a 200-seat theater, the complex won distinction from the California Redevelopment Agency with the “Award for Excellence in Mixed Use Development” in 2004. The goal of 40 Acres is to create a destination locale that would serve as a catalyst for economic and cultural renewal.
Shortly thereafter, St. Hope opened St. Hope Public Schools, a preK-12 independent public charter school system that is currently comprised of seven schools. The goal of St. Hope Public Schools is to provide Oak Park youth (as well as young people living in similar communities across the country) with a continuum of high quality education from preschool through high school; an education that prepares students for success in a four-year college as well as instills within them a commitment to serving others.