Hood awarded $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment

Published 12:06 am Thursday, July 21, 2022

SALISBURY — Hood Theological has been awarded a major grant to support a list of new programs.

The $1 million award comes from the Lilly Endowment, a foundation that donates to causes of religion, education and community development. The grant will help the seminary undertake a financial empowerment initiative.

Program Director Karen Owens has been tapped to lead the four grant initiatives over the next four years. The points are expanding academic programs at the seminary, offering antiracism and contested issues courses, offering personal finance and organizational finance courses, and creating a student debt reduction alumni cohort who will serve as ambassadors and “address the stewardship of finances as an integral part of one’s response to a sacred call to service” according to a release from the institution. The cohort will be offered stipends for their work and coach current Hood students.

“The initiative is a wonderfully strategic opportunity for gifted and highly motivated alumni, students and other seminary constituents to creatively engage the next generation of pastoral leaders and congregations as they confront social and community change,” Hood President Vergel Lattimore said in a statement.

Lilly’s Vice President for Religion Christopher Coble issued a statement addressing the 105 phase two grantees, saying the endowment’s Pathways Initiative will help address challenges they identified.

“We believe that their efforts are critical to ensuring that Christian congregations continue to have a steady stream of pastoral leaders who are well-prepared to lead the churches of tomorrow,” the statement reads.

Institutional Advancement and Enrollment Management Director John Everett game some perspective on the grant, noting Livingstone College and Catawba College are about 10 times the size of Hood and would be equivalent to a much larger grant for those institutions.

“We’ve been fortunate,” Everett said.

Everett said the seminary has received Grants from Lilly in the past and the seminary tries to establish relationships with all its grantors and show they can trust what Hood accomplishes with the funds. He said Lilly reached out to Hood and about the grant and the seminary submitted proposals to move through stages for approval.

On the academic programs part of the grant, Everett said the college has to determine what programs it wants to pursue and it has a list of potential programs like a master’s degree in Christian education. The seminary plans to identify three programs to add.

“The one that’s certainly on the rise is the master of arts in Christian education,” Everett said, adding the aim is to create more practical programs.

He said the demographics of seminaries are changing, with more women and people of color attending seminary programs and more people pursuing degrees not only focused on becoming a pastor.

Everett noted Hood is one of two institutions in the state to offer a chaplaincy master’s degree. The seminary also offers master programs in divinity and theological study, a doctor of ministry degree and certificate programs.


About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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