An Introduction to Lifelong Learning’s Initiatives and Grants

In graduate school, I was encouraged to take an introductory course in program evaluation and grant writing. My advisor knew that I worked for The Episcopal Church and (rightly) assumed there was room for growth in both areas! Not only did I enjoy the class, I discovered unexpected creative freedom at the intersection of accountability and imagination. As a Christian, I found themes of discernment and stewardship in the practices required to appreciate complex interactions in any system and the effect of dedicating resources to address the many dimensions of human life. Little did I know that years later, I would be Vice President and Director of Lifelong Learning at Virginia Seminary with responsibility for writing, directing, and shepherding multiple grants. 

Today, the Department of Lifelong Learning is the administrative home for over six grants from the Lilly Endowment Inc., each directed by a dedicated team and at a different stage of implementation. Together they have brought approximately $7M in revenue to the Seminary.  But more importantly, I have watched the Holy Spirit move through this grant work and transform lives across the church. 

The vestry of Trinity Wall Street just awarded an additional grant to our Thriving in Ministry initiative to expand its use of mentoring and peer learning communities while focusing on sustainability. 

The right grant funding at the right time provides faculty and staff with expansive opportunities for research and program development in our areas of expertise and passion. It invites innovation, collaboration with community partners, and allows the Seminary to respond faithfully to emerging trends and expressed needs across the Church. Effective grant writing, implementation, and evaluation requires focused, specialized, and collaborative leadership that the Department of Lifelong Learning fosters. Kim Arakawa, Project Manager for the Baptized for Life and Mutual Ministry initiatives, has recently been asked to convene quarterly meetings of the grant teams. Our hope is to share resources across the initiatives, harvest learning from the grant engagement to inform our departmental programming, provide a structure for continuous evaluation and improvement, and serve as a discernment team for future grant funding. 

Elisabeth “Lisa” Kimball, Ph.D.
Vice President of Lifelong Learning and
the James Maxwell Professor Chair of Lifelong Christian Formation

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