Friday, October 31, 2014

AMBS receives grant money, improve graduates’ economic well being

Posted on Dec. 5, 2013 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Dec. 5, 2013 at 2:23 p.m.

ELKHART — The Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary isn’t just looking to develop future ministers; it wants to keep them from drowning in debt after turning the tassel.

Lilly Endowment Inc., an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation, recently approved a grant proposal to provide funding to AMBS. The funds will be used to improve the economic well-being of graduates.

“Finances, we have learned, are often a barrier,” said AMBS director of communications Mary Klassen. “It hurts the church.”

The seminary found out shortly before Thanksgiving that it would receive $248,324 to help improve economic conditions for graduates.

The seminary applied for a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., which is in its second year providing grants for its Theological School Initiative to address economic issues facing future ministers.

The initiative seeks to address issues pertaining directly to seminary graduates, who have reportedly had upwards of $100,000 of debt after school, by approaching the financial practices students and the seminary as a whole.

The seminary composed a three-point proposal to receive the grant, Klassen said.

It plans to collect data about how much debt graduates accumulated during school as part of the research component. Research would also include the compensation graduates are earning, and the impact of their well-being on their congregations.

As part of a debt-reducing component, the nonprofit financial services organization Everence will provide financial advice for students to manage their debt. Decisions are also being made about ways of reducing tuition.

The proposal also defined an effort to improve students’ financial literacy. As graduates become young ministers, the need for better management of congregation funds is imperative. Some ministers even consider it a spiritual practice, Klassen said.

For more information contact Mary Klassen, director of communications at AMBS, at 296-6229.