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Lilly Endowment’s Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative is designed to help theological schools strengthen and sustain their capacities to prepare and support pastoral leaders for Christian churches – primarily ordained pastoral leaders and secondarily congregational lay ministers.

Through this three-phase initiative, the Endowment seeks to assist theological schools in the United States and Canada accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) in efforts to do the following:

  • Explore emerging challenges and opportunities facing their institutions as well as the Christian congregations that they serve
  • Gain clarity about their mission in light of these challenges and opportunities and in relationship to the leadership needs of their constituent churches
  • Assess the effectiveness of their educational strategies and financial operations for preparing and supporting pastors and congregational lay ministers
  • Design and implement plans to launch new and/or strengthen current projects to address their key challenges and opportunities and to make their institutions more educationally effective and financially viable for the continued preparation and support of pastors and congregational lay ministers into the future.

View the Request for Proposals.
View the Appendix: Challenges and Opportunities Facing Theological Schools.
View Frequently Asked Questions.

Application Phases

  • Phase 1:  Each eligible school was invited to submit a letter requesting a grant of up to $50,000 for institutional assessment and strategic planning activities for the purposes stated in the RFP.
  • Phase 2:  In this competitive phase, schools were able to apply for a grant of up to $1 million to implement a plan to strengthen its educational and financial capacities to prepare and support pastors and congregational lay ministers for the long term. Grants were announced Nov. 29, 2021.
  • Phase 3:  In this competitive phase, schools were able to submit a concept paper for a large-scale project to develop a new and/or enhance a current collaborative endeavor that would 1) strengthen the educational and financial capacities of the collaborating institutions to prepare and support pastors and congregational lay ministers for the long term and 2) offer a compelling and sustainable strategy or model of theological education that, if successful, could be adopted by other schools. The application process is now closed. The Endowment expects to announce these grants in July 2022.