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The In Trust Center for Theological Schools was awarded a $590,000 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help further coordinate the Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative.

Lilly Endowment launched the three-phase Pathways Initiative in 2021 to help theological schools in North America respond to their most pressing challenges while they work to prepare pastoral leaders for Christian congregations.

In the first phase of funding, 235 schools accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) received $50,000 planning grants. In the second phase, 105 schools received up to $1 million for innovative projects designed to create educational pathways for students to enter church ministry. In the third phase, 16 schools were awarded between $5 million and $8 million to address issues with partner organizations.

“This is really a comprehensive initiative, and the In Trust Center is grateful to be part of it,” said Amy Kardash, president of the center. “The generous funding by Lilly Endowment will provide schools ways to take innovative approaches, providing pathways not only for new students and existing pastors to gain valuable education but also for other schools to learn.”

A key part of the In Trust Center’s grant will be to provide learning opportunities so theological school leaders across North American can apply what’s being learned to their own contexts. The center’s work will include stories in the award-winning In Trust magazine, webinars, podcasts, and the creation of a variety of other discussion spaces and resources to help schools.

The award to the In Trust Center will provide supplemental funding to continue coordination work, in partnership with ATS, through the third phase. The In Trust Center was previously awarded a grant of $1.35 million in the second phase, also in partnership with ATS.

Lilly Endowment launched the initiative because of its longstanding interest in supporting efforts to enhance and sustain the vitality of Christian congregations by strengthening the leadership capacities of pastors and congregational lay leaders.

“Theological schools play an essential role in ensuring that Christian congregations have a steady stream of well-prepared leaders to guide their ministries,” said Christopher L. Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion. “Many theological schools believe that their paths to the future depend on their abilities to form strategic partnerships with other schools and church agencies. These grants will help seminaries develop innovative and collaborative approaches to theological education that we believe will strengthen their efforts to prepare and support excellent leaders for Christian communities into the future.”

About the In Trust Center

The In Trust Center for Theological Schools is a nonprofit organization that serves theological schools across North America, helping connect leaders to essential resources for their mission vitality. Based in Wilmington, Delaware, the In Trust Center provides resources, learning opportunities, and grants to provide member schools and their leaders the opportunities to connect, learn, and grow. Membership includes more than 240 schools and organizations from a wide range of Christian traditions, including Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox.

About Lill Endowment Inc.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is a private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly Sr. and his sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, the Endowment is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion and maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana. The principal aim of the Endowment’s religion grantmaking is to deepen and enrich the lives of American Christians, primarily by seeking out and supporting efforts that enhance the vitality of congregations and strengthen the pastoral and lay leadership of Christian communities. The Endowment also seeks to improve public understanding of diverse religious traditions by supporting fair and accurate portrayals of the role religion plays in the United States and across the globe.

Learn more about the In Trust Center here

Learn more about Lilly Endowment Inc. here

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Upcoming Events

The In Trust Center hosts learning community spaces throughout the year. Check out our upcoming events below.

I See That Hand


Board members are typically recruited for their leadership, business acumen, and networks. Dr. Rebekah Basinger, project director of the In Trust Center’s Wise Stewards Initiative, will discuss how strategic questioning and interrogation skills are essential for effective board stewardship.

Strategic Partnerships in Higher Education


In this on-demand webinar, Rick Staisloff, senior partner of rpk GROUP, discusses essential aspects of strategic partnerships. This session delves into current trends, identification of partners, navigating the due diligence process, and common challenges.

Closing the Trust Gap


The current and very troubling condition of trust is a clarion call to action. But despite the dismal data showing pervasive organizational distrust, every organization can assess their current level of trust, learn and adopt a proven trust building framework, and then develop a meaningful and long-lasting plan of action. This webinar details the knowledge and practical next steps to strengthen workplace culture as a result of closing the trust gap.

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