Building Hope

Recognizing schools that set a standard of excellence for all students

Exceptional growth

At the 2022 Building the Hope Schools, the majority of students come from low-income backgrounds, and at 80 percent of the schools, the majority of students are students of color.

These public schools are in the top 25% for academic proficiency or above average student growth for all Michigan students. One or more of their subgroups of students — Black, Latino, low-income and English Learner students in particular – also are performing in the top 25% among Michigan’s high-growth public schools where data is available. They also engage in culturally- and linguistically-responsive schoolwide practices — including instructional practices — that facilitate students’ outstanding academic progress and growth, making them true outliers in the state of Michigan. All of the schools are Michigan public schools.

Evaluating for Excellence

Student Achievement
Drive for results in student assessments and attaining racial equity in achievement data​
Student Growth
Accelerating student learning​​
Belief in Learning Potential
Students of color and students from low-income backgrounds can learn at high levels​​
Affirming Student, Teacher & School Practices
Positive school climate and culture, including culturally and linguistically responsive practices​
Current and Future Success
Instructional and school leadership that creates conditions for current and future success​

Building the Hope awards

The Education Trust-Midwest is proud to announce the Building the Hope Schools award recipients. At all Building the Hope Schools, students of color and students from low-income backgrounds demonstrate instructional growth and achievement wins across subjects, grades, and years, making them true outliers across the state of Michigan.

Warren Consolidated schools

Lean Elementary

At Lean Elementary, students from low-income backgrounds and English learners demonstrated growth above the state average in both ELA and Math for three straight years. Lean Elementary stands out with its intentional language support and instruction, dedication to its school community and attention to celebrating diverse communities.  Employing culturally- and linguistically-affirming instructional practices, the school librarian makes a special point of having books with diverse characters in them so students see themselves and know they matter. A strong collaborative relationship between classroom teachers, EL teachers and Title I teachers helps build in success.


Challenger Elementary

Challenger Elementary stands out due to its focus on supportive, welcoming relationships with students and parents. The school’s Black students, English learners and students from low-income backgrounds all demonstrated growth above the state averages in both ELA and Math for three straight years. The principal sets a welcoming tone from the time students arrive with her energy, excitement and enthusiasm. Progress is monitored regularly to help identify gaps in students’ learning and how to push those already meeting grade-level standards. Teaching grade-level standards to all students and providing support where needed are strategies that help Challenger’s students progress.

Tawas City

Clara Bolen Elementary

At Clara Bolen Elementary, students from low-income backgrounds demonstrated above average academic proficiency rates in both ELA and Math for three consecutive years. The school has an intentional focus on small-group instruction to meet student needs, and it serves as an intentional center of community in its town. Receiving special services is not a stigma because everyone receives special attention. All students—based on assessments—are pulled out or grouped into small groups for instruction daily either with their own teacher or Title I instructor. Teachers then use the ongoing student assessments to tailor their instruction to students’ needs, whether it’s providing more focused guidance in the classroom or pulling the students into small group for more intimate instruction.


Walton Charter Academy

At Walton Charter Academy, Latino students and English learners demonstrated growth above the state average in both ELA and Math for three consecutive years. Walton Charter Academy also stands out for its intentional outreach to the Latino community. The school makes a concerted effort to engage parents, helping to make non-native English-speaking parents feel comfortable and competent in the school. A teacher and a para-professional are assigned to every K-2 classroom, helping to ensure students have a strong foundation from the early grades.

Grand Rapids

Vista Charter Academy

Vista Charter Academy’s English learners demonstrated growth above the state average in both ELA and Math for three consecutive years. Vista stands out for its teachers’ attention to English learners’ needs in classroom instruction. A strong EL staff helps ensure students are progressing. Students learn early to monitor their own progress through frequent assessments, either weekly or bi-weekly.  Even kindergarteners mark their progress. When students are keeping track, they’re more invested in their success, the principal says.