Welcome to Open Sky Education | Wisconsin Region
Open Sky Education began with a walk
through a Milwaukee neighborhood.
In the fall of 1999, James Rahn was walking through an urban neighborhood where the local faith-based school had been closed down because, as he had been told, there were “not enough children here to have a school.” As he walked the streets, James recalls having to dodge strollers and children running about. And as he approached the school building that had been closed by the local church, he saw lights on and people milling around inside. He saw students, teachers and what looked like a school day in session. He stopped inside to learn what was happening in this school he thought had been closed. He found out that a nearby charter school had run out of room for its rapidly expanding school because there were “so many children to serve in this neighborhood.” This charter school was renting the space that had been vacated by the church.
This all took place right after the Wisconsin Supreme Court had passed a ruling allowing low-income children in Milwaukee to utilize a state voucher to pay for their tuition to attend any school of their choice, including faith-based schools. This court decision reverted back to an older definition of “public education,” where “education for the public” could be publicly funded but privately run. The introduction of “choice” gave parents true ownership and autonomy over their child’s education. If a faith-based education was important to their family, financial means was no longer a barrier for low income families in Milwaukee. Now, in addition to their public school district option, families could choose from among private and faith-based schools as well.
Quickly and with a sense of urgency, James and a growing group of dedicated and visionary Christians began working on a plan: To create a network of schools that offered rigorous academics, character formation, and faith formation accessible to the families qualifying for vouchers. Milwaukee would be the starting point for a model that could be replicated in other locations across the country.
Today, HOPE is a network of private Christian schools serving nearly 3,000 scholars in Milwaukee and Racine, Wisconsin. The story of HOPE is the story of Christians simply doing what God has called us to do: love one another, serve one another, and do it all with excellence befitting Christ whose name we bear.
What started with a single individual taking a simple walk through a neighborhood has grown into a passionate team of educators serving thousands of children.
In 2008, the board of HOPE Christian Schools surveyed the educational landscape in search of other innovative ways to lead educational reform and deliver the three pillars of excellent academics, character formation and faith formation to more children. As a result, Educational Enterprises, Inc. (EEI) was formed, a separate and supporting entity allowing for a broader approach to serving children. In addition to managing and growing the network of HOPE Christian Schools, EEI created a network of public charter schools (EAGLE College Preparatory Schools), each with an optional Christian preschool and wraparound day care services (Compass Educational Programs). Soon after, EEI launched the Character Formation Project. Each of these entities plays a role in delivering one or more of the three pillars to upwards of 6,000 children and families as of today.
To more clearly communicate optimism for the future of education and to prepare for opportunities on the horizon, EEI changed its name to Open Sky Education in 2016.
Open Sky Education is striving to bring quality options for a full and lasting education back to neighborhoods where options have all but disappeared.
Read more about the eight HOPE Christian Schools operating on Open Sky Education campuses in Wisconsin: Wisconsin Campuses
Visit the HOPE Christian Schools website: HOPE Schools