Small Grants Program

LFP National Network Institutions are invited to apply for small grants of $1500 and $3000 to stimulate conversation about church-related higher education and church-related mission on their campuses or among church-related institutions in close proximity to each another.  The LFP hopes these grants will extend and strengthen the LFP’s national conversation about church-related higher learning and mission within and among our network campuses.  The Small Grant program is designed to fund new programs on network campuses rather than supplement ongoing ones.  The current deadline for the submission of applications is September 15 each year.  See below for the application process.

Current Small Grant Programs

At its Fall 2021 meeting, the LFP National Network Board awarded Small Grants to Asbury University, Assumption University, Hellenic College Holy Cross, and Samford University.

At its Fall 2020 meeting, the LFP National Network Board awarded Small Grants to Azusa Pacific University, Belmont University, Dordt University, East Texas Baptist University, Indiana Wesleyan University, McMurry University (2), Northwest Nazarene University, Sacred Heart University, Saint Louis University (2), Saint Xavier University, Samford University, Seton Hall University, St. John's University, The University of Scranton, University of Dayton, University of Pikeville (2), and Westmont College. Note: In 2020, the National Network Board issued a special call for small grant proposals related to anti-racism and/or COVID-19, and the number of grants represented here indicates a strong response to that call.

Recently Completed Small Grant Programs

Azusa Pacific University: "Reckoning and Reimagining: Equity, Antiracism, and General Education in a Post-COVID World"

This semester-long project interrogated Azusa Pacific’s General Education curriculum and pedagogy in order to place sufficient focus on equity and justice. An ethnically diverse reading and recommendations group met twice a month via zoom to listen, share, and engage in racially-focused conversations between students, faculty and staff. By first examining the current literature on issues that prevent and prepare institutions to move toward a more ‘Equity-Oriented’ campus culture, discourse grew organically from the student participants’ lived-experiences. Themes emerged from zoom- recorded video meetings and transcribed minutes, which were crystallized into actionable recommendations. These were presented for open dialog beyond the APU community through two roundtable discussions at the APU Lilly Regional Conference: ‘Reckoning and Reimagining... Envisioning a Faithful Presence in the Liberal Arts.’ While integration of equity & justice within GE were the primary focus, the most significant learnings resulted indirectly from these difficult conversations. Firstly, the inequity of ‘invisible labor’ by students and staff of color needs to be remedied. Elevating the need for equity in both success outcomes and sense of belonging for students of color at APU is a priority, but not by expecting these ‘token’ representatives to be the focal point for making this happen. Secondly, in order to sustain the healthy growth of our institution, the need to accelerate the implementation of DEI training at APU has now become more than a moral imperative, but a business imperative. The group-discussion model funded by this LFP small grant provided an engaging, authentic, and repeatable format for the potential of future DEI training, whereby students, faculty, and staff engage together in racially-focused conversations.

Dordt University: "Rewiring for Diversity"

In the spring of 2021, Dordt University used a Lilly Small Grant to facilitate book groups who read and discussed either Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist (2019) or Jemar Tisby’s How to Fight Racism (2021) with the goal of analyzing our language use and campus practices when it comes to race and diversity. Nine book groups composed of 30 faculty, 8 staff, and 21 students read and discussed the books throughout spring semester, before meeting in large groups to create action steps to improve campus culture for students of color in and outside of the classroom. During the summer of 2021, faculty and staff are meeting to discuss textbook and curriculum changes for the fall to better address topics of diversity and better represent students of color. In July, book group members will lead a campus-wide pedagogy workshop on diversity in the classroom to shape similar choices across many disciplines as part of an ongoing project of “rewiring for diversity” at Dordt University.

Indiana Wesleyan University: "Towards Pedagogies of Justice & Equity"

In response to a faculty email chain sharing feelings of inadequacy around teaching towards social justice, the grant co-directors created a workshop to engage the issues. Out of a desire to help faculty at our institution own the need to continue growing and out of the hope that a permanent partnership might develop, we designed the session to be held during the same week as our institution’s student-oriented program of courageous conversations. We secured Dr. Willie James Jennings as our facilitator and recruited campus colleagues. Interest in the workshop quickly expanded past our original envisioned capacity. The COVID-19 pandemic restricted our ability to gather in person, so we pivoted to an online format and sought ways to build connection despite social distance. To that end, ahead of the workshop, all participants were asked to read parts of Dr. Jennings’ latest book, After Whiteness: An Education in Belonging, a copy of which we delivered to each person’s office as part of a care package. Our session focused on micro-lectures and then discussion with Dr. Jennings as well as small group breakout conversations; we also supplied a to-go lunch. The positive responses to this first workshop prompted our faculty development committee to request a follow-up, which the co-directors also designed and facilitated. This second workshop brought back Dr. Jennings for more conversation on day one, then on day two gave faculty the chance to brainstorm and design new pedagogical interventions. We were able to gather in person for this second workshop, and the co-directors sought to make the most of this opportunity by building extensive time for informal conversation, sharing vocational inspiration and struggles, crowdsourcing pedagogical resources, cross-disciplinary small group visioning, and articulating hopes for future collaboration. We now seek to build a community of practice aimed at equitable pedagogy.

Sacred Heart University: "Workshops on Racial Justice"

Sacred Heart University offered eight faculty development workshops on racial justice and Catholic higher education. Three workshops were offered for the Catholic Studies Faculty who teach The Human Journey Seminars: Great Books in the Catholic Intellectual Tradition; five workshops were offered for faculty across the University. A total of 76 faculty participated in the faculty development workshops. Teaching About Race and Racism in the College Classroom: Notes From a White Professor by Cyndi Kernahan was used in all the workshops as a pedagogical guide as well as several other articles on Catholicism and racial justice. In addition, Dr. Andrew Prevot, Reginald Harris, and Dr. M. Shawn Copeland came to speak at campus on related topics.

Saint Louis University: "Ferguson, the Clock Tower Accords, and Beyond: Teaching Racial Justice in St. Louis”

In order to build on the momentum within the Department of Theological Studies (DTS) at Saint Louis University (SLU) following the publication of a joint statement on racial injustice (July 2020), the department applied for funding from the LFP Small Grant Program to help us implement the concrete commitments identified in that statement: (1) to teach antiracism by integrating the experiences of African Americans into our program development, (2) to analyze the systems and structures of white supremacy in American culture, law, and religion, and (3) to integrate the contributions of Black theology throughout our curriculum. DTS coordinated its efforts with other units at the university. These programs shared resources and worked together in implementing several distinct but interrelated programs open to all members of the university community. DTS’s main contribution—aside from the ongoing work of the Ignatian Service Minor, the Law, Religion, and Politics Minor, and the Religion and Complex Social Issues committee—was to host a series of workshops at SLU facilitated by Fr. Bryan Massingale, the James and Nancy Buckman Chair in Applied Christian Ethics in the Department of Theology at Fordham University, focused on integrating antiracism education into the Catholic social justice tradition to help meet the challenges of twenty-first-century higher education.

University of Pikeville: "Diversity and Inclusion in the College of Arts and Sciences at UPIKE"

We designed the program as part of our inclusive excellence initiative in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS). The program adopted a workshop model focusing on the implicit biases that get in the way of our students’ learning and success, with a special focus on our students of color. All CAS instructors received an open invitation in October 2020 to apply. The program involved two virtual workshops, one in early December 2020 and a follow-up workshop in January 2021. Before each workshop, participants submitted their goals (December) and the concrete changes they made to reach them (January) related to creating more inclusive classroom environments. A consultant, Dr. Andrea Abrams from Centre College, guided both workshops, shared materials, and worked one-on-one with instructors over the duration of the program.

Westmont College: “Looking Back/Looking Forward: Images for Worship and Devotion”

This project was designed to open up conceptual space in the Westmont community to consider an existing image of Jesus and envision possible alternatives. The existing image--the only representation of Jesus on our campus--was in a small but focal stained-glass window in our prayer chapel. The chapel was built in 1961 as a memorial to the 18-year-old daughter of the college president who was killed in a car crash near campus. Increasingly, members of the campus community were bothered by the way in which Jesus was represented as very white and could easily be read as nationalist (the figure is standing on a map of North America). In March of 2020, the President decided to remove the window. The LB/LF project was designed to invite students, and eventually the larger college community, into a discussion of what new images for that space might look like. The goal was multiple image ideas, resulting in multiple images to be rotated through that space in the future. We convened four study groups during the Fall 2020 semester. Each group had two faculty guides and hosted up to eight student participants. Each group had a different theme chosen to locate their discussion in an aspect of the world-wide church. Early spring, the project director took the ideas generated by the four study groups to the steering committee. The steering committee, in collaboration with the college designer, mocked-up one image idea from each group as a focus for wider conversation. They hosted two sessions, one with the study group members, and one with interested members of the wider community, to talk through the results. The conversations were rich, informative and productive. In collaboration with the art department, the project director will identify alumni artists to flesh out these ideas more thoroughly and artistically. A number of images will be printed on acrylic and, accompanied by an informative booklet, be used as devotional foci in Voskuyl Chapel. The former window will be moved to the vestibule of the chapel, where it will join other memorial objects from the early days of the chapel’s existence.

Anderson University: "Orienting Part-Time Faculty to the Mission and Religious History of Anderson University"

Our small grant was awarded for the development of an adjunct and part-time faculty handbook. Our university previously had not provided any standard handbook or orientation to the university. Of particular focus for the handbook was a focus on university mission. The university’s founding denomination, the Church of God, does not endorse any creeds or have a formal statement of faith. The non-creedal nature of the Church of God is a central part of its identity, yet makes it especially difficult for newcomers to the university to understand its distinctive faith heritage. A small grant allowed the university to develop an orientation booklet to welcome new adjunct and part-time faculty and orient them to the faith heritage and mission of the university. A highlight of the project was the handbook’s collection of adjunct faculty written reflections. These reflections explore the faculty members’ motivations for teaching and their relationship to the university’s mission and ethos.

Saint Xavier University: "Core Beliefs in the Examined Life" and "Considering the Catholic Intellectual Tradition and Catholic Social Teaching”

Saint Xavier University received two small grants to fund programs in response to changes within the General Education Program, in an effort to promote our religious mission “across the curriculum.” Two first-year courses were pivotal to the success of these changes. The Examined Life and the First Year Seminar. The two programs were combined and designed to help faculty revise these two first-year courses to make them stewards of our specific requirements to promote ethical decision making and consider the history and charism of the Sisters of Mercy. The program brought together full-time and adjunct faculty to consider these characteristics. The program was a success. Full-time and Adjunct faculty felt more confident and connected to one another. Faculty had a stronger and more nuanced understanding of the requirements associated with these two courses and the shared responsibilities for the General Education Program, and the program led to demonstrable changes in course syllabi, course assignments, and student learning.

Xavier University: "Supporting Faculty Members Understanding of Ignatian Pedagogy: Developing a Video Resource"

Xavier University is generating new academic courses and programs or modifying existing programs to be delivered online or in locations other than the home campus. As a result, XU’s Center for Mission and Identity was searching for ways in which to help all faculty, but especially off-campus and/or adjunct faculty, connect to a Jesuit Catholic university and feel a stronger sense of belonging. This connection includes information on the mission, values, and characteristics on what it means to be a faculty member in a Jesuit Catholic institution with the critical component to teaching being Ignatian pedagogy, specifically, the Ignatian Pedagogy Paradigm which is a dynamic interplay of 5 key pedagogical components – Context, Experience, Reflection, Action, and Evaluation. Thus, we sought to develop a contemporary pedagogical tool, a light-hearted brief video, to post on Xavier’s website for easy dissemination, viewing and learning. 

Whitworth University:  “Basic Theology for the Christian Professor,” 

Whitworth University developed a pilot workshop, “Basic Theology for the Christian Professor,” to run during the summers of 2021 and 2022, organized by Professors Meredith Shimizu (Art History) and Nathan King (Philosophy), and taught by Professor Adam Neder (Bruner-Welch chair of Theology). Discussions revealed that some faculty members sensed a gap in their theological training. The Whitworth community is dedicated to the integration of faith and learning, and has excellent programs in place to support such integration. However, several professors expressed a desire for a workshop with a dedicated focus on the “faith” in “faith and learning.” They wanted more clarity on the content that Christian scholars are supposed to integrate with teaching and research. Thus, given our ecumenical community, we sought to develop a workshop centered on the doctrines held in common by all Christians—Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant. The workshop has as its focus the doctrines expressed in the Apostle’s Creed, and has three central goals:

  • To spark discussions of Christian theology by providing a supportive environment and dedicated time;
  • To provide participants with intentional opportunities to grow in their ability to articulate and apply their Christian faith; and
  • To engage the broader Whitworth community in a discussion of central Christian doctrines via a follow-up event that includes both workshop participants and community members who did not attend the workshop.

 The workshop itself takes place over two days during the summer, and one evening during the subsequent fall. We hope that the workshop—still in its pilot stage—will one day become a yearly event.

John Brown University: "Reimagining and Reinvigorating the Core Curriculum"

As John Brown University is undergoing a core curriculum revision, the academic departments, divisions, and colleges needed to develop or update curriculum in five areas: Intercultural Engagement, Christian Formation, Evangelical Theology, Whole Person Wellness, and Integrated Humanities. The faculty who would be teaching these classes met for a three-day workshop to develop course frameworks, outcomes, and assessments.

Seton Hall University for "Medical Humanities: Pedagogy and Praxis"

This project aimed to bring diverse faculty from across Seton Hall to explore the idea of the medical humanities through public lectures and faculty panel discussions. Questions that were considered included whether studying theology and philosophy is necessarily salient for the practice of medicine as well as what the study of literature and history might contribute to medical questions. These events provided opportunities for students and faculty to consider the larger reach of humanistic disciplines and challenged participants to think about the health fields as more than simply about scientific knowledge and technical expertise. 

Sterling College: "Understanding Christian Faith"

Sterling College created new initiatives: a Faculty Fellows reading group and a Departmental Chapel program. These initiatives exist to further Sterling College’s mission, “to develop creative and thoughtful leaders who understand a maturing Christian faith.” 

Villanova University for "Caritas Towards Unitas: Teaching African-American Literature in the Spirit of Augustine--A Faculty Dialogue at Villanova University"

The aim of Caritas toward Unitas was to invite faculty who teach in Villanova
University’s first-year Augustine & Culture Seminar Program (ACS) to discuss and meditate on select works of African American literature, and to do so in the spirit of Augustine and the central ACS question, “Who am I?” In the Fall semester 2018, different faculty gathered for four luncheons to engage and be challenged by James Baldwin’s famous letter to his nephew “My Dungeon Shook” (1963). Then in the Spring semester 2019, faculty gathered for two dinner and one lunch conversation on Toni Morrison’s essay “A Slow Talk of Trees” (1976). 

Saint Louis University: "The Opioid Epidemic: What would Ignatius Do" 

Saint Louis University held a Lunch and Learn series for its Health Sciences Campus to operationalize the Jesuit mission, professional formation, and action and advocacy to address the opioid epidemic. The opioid epidemic in the US can be overwhelming to university stakeholders. The problem seems too large and too intimidating to address. We developed a five-lesson lunch and learn series that ran during the Spring 2018 semester. The format of each session included watching a video prior to attending the session, an Examen, and a group discussion. One of our Jesuit faculty led participants through a guided Examen exercise, and guests from the criminal justice ministry led the small group discussion based on the video and Examen. Discussions were on topics such as, "Do I consider addiction a disease?" and "What does 'as long as it takes' therapy mean to you?"

Westmont College: "From All Tribes and Peoples and Languages"

The program "From All Tribes and Peoples and Languages" supported by the Lilly Fellows Small grant was designed to deepen Westmont faculty's understanding of diversity as an essential aspect of Christian and evangelical identity; it was also aimed at assisting faculty in developing cross-cultural communication skills. The program benefited our college in numerous ways. Specifically, four reading groups were formed in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 academic years that created the opportunity for faculty to read and discuss seminal books on diversity, while the LARA Method workshop offered in the fall of 2018 equipped faculty with basics of successful cross-cultural communications. Biblical and theological foundations of diversity were discussed by the reading group participants and linked to everyday practices that support and enhance equity and inclusiveness on campus. The diversity activities of the 2017-2019 created momentum for collective learning and courageous conversations in the future. We believe that faculty learning about diversity will enhance Westmont student experiences embodying diversity as Christian identity in the classroom and beyond.

Read more about previous small grants programs here.

The Application Process

LFP National Network Institutions are invited to apply for small grants of $1500 and $3000 to stimulate conversation about church-related higher education and church-related mission on their campuses or among church-related institutions in close proximity to each another.  The LFP hopes these grants will extend and strengthen the LFP’s national conversation about church-related higher learning and mission within and among our network campuses.  The Small Grant program is designed to fund new programs on network campuses rather than supplement ongoing ones.

Proposals must be submitted by LFP campus representatives by September 15 of each year.  Activities funded will take place during following academic year. 

Examples of programs that might be funded include but are not limited to:

  • On-campus reading or discussion groups for faculty or administrators on church-related mission, faith and higher education, faith and the academic vocation, etc.
  • Workshops for faculty and administrators on church-related mission or the academic vocation.
  • Lectures or a lecture series connected to reading groups or workshops on church-related mission or the academic vocation.
  • Discussion groups, workshops, or exchanges of best practices regarding church-related mission or the academic vocation among campuses in close proximity.
  • Peer mentoring for administrators or junior, mid-career, or senior faculty.

Funds might be used to secure supplies, to provide faculty incentives, to provide travel, or honoraria for speakers.

Applicants must consult with the Lilly Fellows Program Associate Director prior to submitting the application.

Before applying, please consult the "Guide to Writing Lilly National Network Grant Proposals."

Grant recipients are required to provide a thorough assessment of the program to be submitted in a report to the LFP upon completion of the funded program. Plans for this assessment should be included in the proposal.

Required Application Materials:

  • Description of the Program (5 pages), including Executive Summary, Rationale, Connection to the Lilly National Network Mission, Goals of the Project, Project Description, and Evaluation Plan
  • Preliminary schedule of events for participants, if applicable
  • Projected budget
  • CV of the Director
  • Application Cover Sheet (available here)

Please include an estimate of how many members of the campus or campuses will be involved, a description of how the program will be structured, monitored, and evaluated, and an indication of the need and support for this program on the host campus (including how the funded activity fits into other related efforts currently on your campus). Proposals for reading groups should include a potential reading list.

Applicants must consult with the Lilly Fellows Program Associate Director prior to submitting the application.

Please submit applications as a PDF attachment to

Or you can mail application materials to:

Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts
Valparaiso University
Linwood House
1320 Chapel Drive South
Valparaiso, IN 46383


Noteworthy News

February LFP Update

The Current LFP Update for February 2022 is now available. Click here.

Announcing the 2023-2025 Lilly Faculty Fellows Program

We are pleased to announce a call for applications for the 2023-2025 Lilly Faculty Fellows Program for mid-career faculty leaders across all disciplines to engage the intersections of Christian thought and practice with the academic vocation. Click here for more information and to apply.

Announcing the winner of the 2021 LFP Book Award

We are pleased to announce that On Christian Teaching: Practicing Faith in the Classroom by David I. Smith has won the 2021 LFP Book Award. For more information and to see the five finalists, click here.

Grove City College Regional Conference Postponed to 2023

Grove City College's regional conference entitled "Christianity and Core Texts at Global/Cultural Crossroads" will now take place in spring 2023. For more information, click here.

Lilly Network of Church- Related Colleges and Universities

If you are interested in learning more about membership in the Lilly Network of Church-Related Colleges and Universities, please contact us here.

New edition of Leading Lives that Matter released

In their second edition of Leading Lives That Matter, editors Mark Schwehn and Dorothy Bass compile a wide range of texts—from ancient and contemporary literature, social commentary, and philosophy—related to questions of vital interest for those who are trying to decide what to do with their lives and what kind of human beings they hope to become. Leading Lives that Matter has been an important text in many of our fellowship and grant programs, and it contains excellent resources. Click here for more information and an excerpt.

Vatican II and Higher Education: Leading Forward

Sacred Heart University will host a regional conference on October 13-15, 2022 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Vatican II and the University's founding. For more information including a call for papers, click here.