The Strengthening Ministry Grant provides up to $5,000 to support Foundations of Christian Leadership alumni who work with Christian organizations and other nonprofits that engage with Christian congregations.

The 2019 Washington, DC cohort of Foundations of Christian Leadership.

The grant offers an opportunity for alumni to reflect and act on the opportunities and challenges they face in their organizations, as those organizations evolve following the multiple pandemics — COVID-19, racial inequity, etc. — that emerged and/or intensified in 2020-21. This grant empowers the applicant to act in concert with a Christian organization in the United States to strengthen that organization and the applicant’s ministry.

Any alumnus can submit an application for any Christian organization with which the alumnus has a significant relationship — including full-time employee, part-time employee or board member. The application includes the opportunity to describe the relationship. Only one application can be submitted per alumnus. Multiple applications from an organization will be considered if submitted by multiple alumni.

Please direct any questions to leadership@div.duke.edu. We will also host a Q&A session for applicants on January 11, 2022.

Application deadline: March 1, 2022

Because you will not have the opportunity to save and return to your work once you have begun your application form, we recommend reviewing the application questions and information below and compiling your responses into a single external document before beginning the application.

Definition of terms

  • Applicant: The individual who is completing this grant request and will be responsible for implementing the projects described. The individual must be an employee (full-time or part-time) or board member of the organization and an alumnus of Foundations of Christian Leadership.
  • Organization: A tax-exempt, U.S. faith-based charitable organization that will receive, administer and report on the use of grant funds.
  • Christian organization: An organization that has explicit Christian faith commitments or is committed to working alongside Christian congregations in a way that furthers the congregations’ mission.
  • Ministry: The specific work the applicant leads as part of the organization. This could be a program, department or other division of the Christian organization.

Grant timeline

The schedule for the grant process is as follows:

Q&A Session: January 11, 2022 (register here)
Application Deadline: March 1, 2022
Award Notification (no later than): April 15, 2022
Grant Timeline (12 months): July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023
End of Grant Reports due: September 30, 2023

What are we looking for in proposals?

The Strengthening Ministry Grant program is a competitive grant program open to all who have completed Leadership Education’s Foundations of Christian Leadership, is not currently administering a Leadership Education grant and is currently the employee (full-time or part-time) or board member of a faith-based charitable organization (which includes congregations and denominations, as well as other types of organizations). The organization is the eligible grant recipient, therefore the senior officer of the organization must submit a signed letter of request and support on behalf of the application. The organization and the applicant must work within the United States.

We intentionally seek to provide encouragement and opportunities to applicants from organizations and communities connected to congregations that have historically not had equal access to grant funding. To do so, we will host a Q&A/coaching session for applicants in advance of the submission deadline. Additionally, applicants will receive feedback after the submission deadline and, if necessary, have the opportunity to submit a revised application.

Proposals will be evaluated on the connection between the organization’s mission and how the proposed activities will advance that mission and the applicant’s scope of ministry. We are particularly interested in applicants that connect their proposed ministry activities with the challenges and opportunities of the multiple pandemics (COVID-19, rise in awareness of racial inequities, health care disparities, etc.).

The Strengthening Ministry Grant is not a fellowship program for work toward an academic degree, including the doctor of ministry degree. It is acceptable for some part of the grant activities to involve travel and/or research. However, if plans are strictly dedicated to work involved in the pursuit of a degree, applicants are advised to find support through other grant and scholarship opportunities.

Financial guidelines for the proposal

The proposal may include up to 50% for personnel costs related to the proposal’s purposes. The proposal may also include funds to cover the cost of equipment and supplies needed to pursue the proposed activities. Equipment expenses should be no more than 10% of the applicant’s proposed budget. The budget line item description should list the items requested and describe why they are essential. The cost of such items should be appropriate to their significance for the activities and in relation to the overall budget.

If the applicant (alumni) ends affiliation with the grant recipient organization during the grant period, the grant is terminated. All unspent funds are to be returned along with the required reports.

End of grant reports and evaluation

Final narrative and financial reports will be due no later than September 30, 2023. Questions to be addressed in the final report will be included with the grant agreement. The financial report should reflect a full and transparent accounting of grant expenditures.

Application questions, worksheet and budget template

This document includes all questions and prompts that must be completed when submitting a Strengthening Ministry grant proposal. Feel free to save your own copy of this document and use it as you prepare your application materials. Once you have begun your application form, you will need to complete it, as you will not have the opportunity to save and return to your work later.

 

Use this template to develop a budget for your project. You will attach the finished spreadsheet to your application.

Proposal submission

Proposals should be submitted via the link below no later than 12 midnight Eastern time on March 1, 2022.

Frequently asked questions

I am not an alum of the Foundations of Christian Leadership program; can I apply for this grant?

No. The Strengthening Ministry Grant program is open only to alumni of the Foundations of Christian Leadership program. Please visit our grants webpage to explore other potential grant opportunities.

 

What are the requirements for Foundations alumni interested in applying for the Strengthening Ministry grant? 

As the applicant, you cannot be currently administering another Leadership Education grant. In addition, you must currently be an employee (full-time or part-time) or board member of a faith-based charitable organization that engages with Christian congregations (these include congregations and denominations, as well as other types of organizations with a non-profit / 501c3 status). Finally, we encourage only organizations in the United States to submit proposals on behalf of applicants whose work primarily occurs in the United States. For further details, please see the “Definition of Terms” section above.

 

Can my organization submit multiple proposals from different Foundations alumni?  

Yes. Each alum can only submit one application. However, multiple applications from an organization will be considered if submitted by multiple alumni. 

 

Is there a page limit for proposals?  

No; however, there is a word count limit for each section of the Application Questions, as follows: 

Section 1 – 300 words maximum. 

Sections 2 and 3 – a combined total of 2,000 words maximum. 

Section 4 – 600 words maximum.

 

If I am a Foundations alum, am I guaranteed to get a Strengthening Ministry grant if I apply?  

All alumni of the Foundations of Christian Leadership program are invited to apply for the Strengthening Ministry Grant program. However, this is a competitive grant program, and all applications will be reviewed and evaluated by an adjudication committee. An email with a decision regarding your grant application will be sent no later than April 15, 2022. We will let you know at that time whether your application will be funded or if we request that you reconsider portions of the application and submit a revised application. Deadlines for revised applications will be communicated when applicable.  

Receipt of the grant depends on the applicant’s ability to follow the directions of the application process, submit a complete application, and propose a project that can advance the mission of their faith-based charitable organization and strengthen the applicant’s scope of ministry. We are particularly interested in applicants that connect their proposed ministry activities with the challenges and opportunities of the multiple pandemics (COVID-19, rise in awareness of racial inequities, health care disparities, etc.).

 

Should I write my proposal considering the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic and/or other systemic issues that will continue affecting my setting, or may I propose activities assuming no restrictions on travel or gathering?  

This is the world we live in with shifting constraints. Approach your proposal with the expectation that the work will be done within the current limitations of your context.

What can the grant funds be used for?  

Grant funds can be used as financial leverage toward a project that has the potential to advance the mission of your organization and strengthen the applicant’s scope of ministry. Most organizations have a wealth of resources in one or more areas and are challenged in others. As you think about a possible project, consider the following questions: What sort of activities would help you increase the capacity of a ministry area that challenges your organization? How might you invite other local community groups to partner with you to use the grant funds to strengthen your networks and widen your scope of influence? How might you use the grant funds to engage in renewal activities, reflection spaces, conversations, etc., that resource and strengthen your personal scope of ministry and abilities? 

This grant program is NOT designed to create more work for you or your organization. It is intended to provide some additional resources so you can have the freedom to think more creatively about the work in your context.  

As part of the application process, you will submit a grant budget outlining how your organization will use the funds. We understand that circumstances change, plans shift, and pandemics happen. Alterations to the grant budget of more than 20% must be discussed with a representative of Leadership Education prior to making the changes.

 

Are there things the grant will not cover?  

The grant cannot cover the tuition expenses or plans for work strictly dedicated to the pursuit of an academic degree (e.g., research, travel), including the Doctor of Ministry degree.  

Moreover, electronics and other equipment expenses, if needed, cannot exceed 10% of the proposed budget. If you have questions about possible grant budget items, please email leadership@div.duke.edu for more information.

 

If I need an extension to complete the application or project, may I request one?  

Extensions cannot be granted in this grant program. There are deadlines by which you must submit all required documentation. The timelines for this program are:  

March 1, 2022: Applications due 

April 15, 2022: Award Notification (no later than) 

May 13, 2022: Signed Grant Agreement due 

July 1, 2022: Strengthening Ministry Grant period begins 

June 30, 2023: Strengthening Ministry Grant period concludes 

September 30, 2023: End of Grant Reports due 

Any work not completed by June 30, 2023, must be noted in the final report. Any funds not spent by June 30, 2023, must be returned to Leadership Education.

 

What if I leave my organization before I finish the work or all the grant money is spent?  

If the applicant ends affiliation with the grant recipient organization during the grant period and/or prior to completing the project, you need to notify Leadership Education, and the grant is thereby terminated. A final report will need to be produced, with the funds not expended according to the approved proposal returned to Leadership Education.

 

What are examples of grant projects that can be funded? 

Leadership Education is interested in funding projects that have the potential to strengthen the leadership and ministry capacity of those directing and implementing the grants. We also are drawn to grant ideas that have the potential to strengthen the vitality of Christian institutions and inspire greater faithfulness and effectiveness in the leadership and management of those institutions. We have an interest in organizations that seek to create lasting change by strengthening the ecology of Christian institutions that enable communities, congregations, and clergy to flourish.  

We believe you are the experts on your context, and you know best what areas can benefit from such a grant project. We want your ideas to come from your context and the opportunities and challenges you face every day.  

Some grant themes that have been considered include:  

  • Convening groups to discuss context-specific issues such as racism, economic models, systemic disparities, diversity, and practical ways of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic 
  • Experimenting with projects outside a traditional governing or committee structure 
  • Sharing and learning from program practices across a conference/denomination 
  • Studying a parallel cultural context for comparison to the history and landscape of Christian institutions 

As you craft your proposal, you might find it helpful to ask yourself these questions along the way: Will this proposed project advance the mission of my organization? If so, specifically, how? Will this proposed project strengthen my scope of ministry? If so, specifically, how?

 

What does the text of a letter of organization/institutional support include?  

Applicants are required to submit a letter of organizational/institutional support as part of the application process. This letter should be written by the appropriate senior pastor, board chair, CEO, or other senior officer and should demonstrate the institution’s rationale and support for the project.  

The letter lends support from the institution for the proposed grant activities and commits to steward the grant resources according to the guidelines in the proposal. It must be written by someone other than the applicant, dated, signed with a hand-written signature, and on institutional letterhead. Examples include:

Dear Adjudication Committee, 

I am writing in support of XXXXX’s Strengthening Ministry Grant application. The project outlined offers a new way for our staff to engage with church planters and community partners. This event will allow us to work with church planters to dream together about how they might engage in global and local mission, given their specific contexts. It also provides the opportunity to eat, worship, and work together. This is a departure from many denominational events, which are strongly focused on learning or church business. 

I believe that XXX’s grant proposal will offer new avenues for our staff to collaborate across initiative areas and will support our overall vision to see all XXXX Churches have leadership and discipleship pathways and be engaged in local and global mission. 

If the grant is awarded, our organization will monitor the project and expend the funds as approved in the grant. 

Thanks for your consideration, 

Executive Director, XXXX Organization

 

To Whom It May Concern,  

I write to solicit your support of XXXX as she facilitates the proposed grant project at XXXXX Church. XXXX has demonstrated leadership with volunteers, inter-generational relationships, and navigating growth and change.  

XXXXXX Church has served God’s beloved community for 200 years through worship, liberation, and service. We believe that it is important to support Rev. XXX as this Strengthening Ministry Grant could help strengthen our ability to reach young people with God’s liberating gospel and a robust community of faith.  

XXXXX’s idea is worthy of support. Please strongly consider awarding this grant and XXXX Church will see to it that it is administered according to your guidelines.  

Grace and Peace,  

Pastor, XXXX Church

 

If I have further questions, where can I get help? 

Please feel free to email us your questions to leadership@div.duke.edu. In addition, please register here for the Q&A Session on Tuesday, January 11, 2022.  

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