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PSR Receives $5M Grant From Lilly Endowment Inc. To Build Innovative Educational Ecosystem

Pacific School of Religion (PSR) is excited to announce that we have received a grant of $5 million from Lilly Endowment Inc. to equip a diverse new generation of spiritually rooted leaders with the tools they need to transform their communities. 

Delivered through an online platform currently in pilot under the brand name The Ignite Collective, PSR’s educational ecosystem will be funded through the third and final phase of Lilly Endowment’s Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative 

The platform will connect emerging leaders — from inner cities and rural areas, from congregations and social movements — to each other and to educational resources often not accessible to them. Participants will have access to short courses, gatherings, coaching, and events that will strengthen their preparation and build their networks.  

Employing a distributed learning model, the platform will also offer space for partner seminaries, organizations, and individuals to host and deliver their own content. PSR will establish an incubator to help a curated group of partners, with a focus on communities of color, to adapt or create content for the platform and offer training in community building and promotion. The networked model combined with tiered membership options will create educational opportunities that are affordable for learners and financially sustainable for partner organizations. 

“We are grateful to Lilly Endowment Inc. for their generous support of this collaborative project and for their investment in making leadership resources more accessible and impactful. At a time of multiple crises in education, religion, and leadership, PSR brings the right combination of proven social impact over our 150+ year history and innovation to make this ambitious project a reality. Together with our collaborators, we will respond to the growing need for leaders with the vision, resilience, and skill to create a world where all can thrive,” said PSR president Rev. David Vásquez-Levy in response to the grant announcement.  

“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,” said Christopher L. Coble, the Endowment’s vice president for religion. 

“PSR is well positioned to make the most of this generous grant with our commitment to radically inclusive Christian scholarship, the spirit of innovation in both technology and social movements that mark our Bay Area home, and our country-wide, majority people-of-color network of partners,” said Sandra Nathan, Chair of the PSR Board of Trustees and Managing Director at Humanity United. 


About Lilly Endowment Inc. 

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based, private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons J.K. Jr. and Eli 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. A primary aim of its grantmaking in religion is to deepen the religious lives of Christians, principally by supporting efforts that enhance congregational vitality and strengthen the leadership of Christian communities. 

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