I’ve seen the world – traveling to over one hundred nations through my work as the President of OneHope – and I’m convinced of one thing: children and youth in South Florida need God’s Word just as much as children and youth in the most desolate areas around the world. While the cultures and contexts I’ve seen over the years are vastly different, the primary need is the same: the next generation needs to experience the Gospel in a personal way and be discipled by their community as they continue to grow.
A few years ago, our team saw a need and felt a calling to reach middle school students in our own backyard in Pompano Beach in a new way: by creating a private Christian middle school designed to be easily accessible for low-income families from the neighborhoods surrounding our offices.
You may be wondering, “Why is an organization with a global emphasis on taking God’s Word to Every Child starting schools in South Florida?” The answer: we believe that schools are the next great mission field. All children deserve a place of learning where they can grow and thrive. The community we serve through Purpose Academy consists of students mostly from broken families with single parent households, living in poverty. Like trees planted in rocky soil, these children often struggle to feel grounded, or are in the shadows of circumstances beyond their control including fatherlessness and economically disadvantaged households. No matter how many millions of children and youth OneHope reaches around the world every year, we wouldn’t be truly fulfilling our mission if we were ignoring children in desperate need of hope in our own backyard.
In 2018, Purpose Academy began with its first class of 6th graders and a mission of “Equipping sons and daughters to learn, grow, and step into their destinies in Christ”. Today, ninety-nine 6th-8th grade students are receiving a quality Christian education in classrooms located within our OneHope office building in Pompano Beach. We are working to ensure that Purpose Academy students’ whole beings are nurtured; everything from academic achievement to character formation, specialized activities to after-care needs, even standing in the gaps missing from their home lives and encouraging them to get involved in local churches.
In addition to standard core courses, Purpose Academy students are immersed in Bible, character development, and leadership classes. They are being equipped with practical life tools, such as job skills and interview practice, and are given individualized mentorship time as needed. Students also attend weekly chapel services with guest speakers from OneHope and local churches in the community. Purpose Academy is transforming the lives of these students academically, spiritually, and socially. More than that – these students are influencing their families, and the community, simply by being given new opportunities to succeed. The testimonies of life change we have seen in just a few short years have been unbelievable. As the first class at Purpose Academy went from 6th to 8th grade there was a 30% increase of students reading at grade level. Additionally, during the lockdowns of the 2020-21 school year, Purpose Academy students achieved 162% of annual typical growth in Reading.
5 Goals for Every Student When a student begins at Purpose Academy, we are thinking toward the future. Our focus is on developing students to:
Seeing the potential for education as a mission happens when we see schools as more than simply a junction of learning. As Nelson Mandela powerfully said, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” I encourage you to join me in viewing schools as the next great mission field. Done well, they become centers to equip young people with viable skills that will allow them to support their families while also accomplishing the work of the Kingdom.
We haven’t embarked on this education journey alone. Our team has been overwhelmed by support from many local South Florida church partners and individuals who are passionate about serving our students. If you are interested in learning more about Purpose Academy and how you can get involved, please visit www.purposeacademy.site/ or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.