OU Receives Lilly Endowment Grant to Help Engage Future Faith Leaders

Posted by Janae Melvin on February 16, 2016 in Center, Endowment, Faith, Fredrikson, grant, Lilly In December, Ottawa University received notification that it had been awarded a grant of $593,623 to establish the Theology, Action, and Understanding (TAU) Institute as part of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s High School Youth Theology Institutes initiative, which seeks to encourage young people to explore theological traditions, ask questions about the moral dimensions of contemporary issues and examine how their faith calls them to lives of service.

The TAU Institute is a new initiative at Ottawa University that aims to cultivate a new generation of morally and spiritually grounded activist-theologians who are prepared to work, intellectually and practically, across cultural and theological divides. Through the TAU Institute, 75 high school-aged youth, from both urban and rural settings throughout the Midwest and Arizona, will be chosen to participate in a year-long curriculum and a one-week capstone conference, free of charge.

For Ottawa University, the TAU Institute will be guided by the Rev. Dr. John Holzhüter, University Chaplain, and the theology curriculum will be designed and instructed by the Rev. Dr. Richard Menninger, OU’s Andrew B. Martin Distinguished Chair of Religion. Guest speakers from across the country in addition to local civic and non-profit leaders will be featured as part of the faith-in-action and community enhancing experiences.

“After four years of surveying youth, nationwide, on their quandaries with faith, questions on the value of religion and assessments of the social implications of both we were eager to broker programming that would inform misconceptions and illustrate the tangible values of faith-community,” said Holzhüter. “Through this generous award from Lilly Endowment we will equip and engage the faith leaders of tomorrow through real-time applications of self-exploration, tolerant problem solving, and practical community building for a higher purpose.”

Applications and an essay submission from potential participants will be accepted, starting in July 2016, with the initial cohort launching in September 2016. Students who are entering their sophomore, junior and senior years in high school will be eligible to apply.