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St. Thomas University receives $550,000 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.

By December 4, 2015Biscayne College

St. Thomas University (STU) has received a grant of $557,588 to establish STU IMPACT: Empowering Young Disciples. It is 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.

STU’s Institute for High School Youth: STU IMPACT: Empowering Young Disciples, in collaboration with the Catholic Archdiocese of Miami, will create opportunities for rising sophomores through senior high school students to discover and explore their faith. During an intensive eight-day program, tentatively scheduled for June 11 – 19, 2016, students will live on campus, learn from renowned scholars, and participate in local and regional civic engagement activities. Activities will include formal theological education and a mid-year convocation. Additionally, students will design and implement a service learning project to be implemented in their home community or parish.

“This support from Lilly Endowment accelerates the university’s expansion and strengthens our Catholic identity in ways that will make a real difference for students and drive civic involvement that will have an impact in our community and the world,” said STU President Monsignor Franklyn Casale. “We thank Lilly Endowment for contributing to the long-term success of our institution.”

St. Thomas University is one of 82 schools participating in the initiative. The schools are located in 29 states and the District of Columbia. Although some schools are independent, many reflect the religious heritage of their founding traditions. These traditions include Baptist, Brethren, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Reformed churches, as well as Roman Catholic, non-denominational, Pentecostal and historic African-American Christian communities.

“These colleges and universities are well-positioned to reach out to high school students in this way,” said Dr. Christopher L. Coble, vice president for religion at the Endowment. “They have outstanding faculty in theology and religion who know how to help young people explore the wisdom of religious traditions and apply these insights to contemporary challenges.”

The Endowment is giving $44.5 million in grants to help a select group of private four-year colleges and universities around the nation to create the institutes. The grants are part of the Endowment’s commitment to identify and cultivate a cadre of theologically minded youth who will become leaders in church and society.

An additional grant to the Forum for Theological Exploration will establish a program that will bring together leaders of the high school youth theology institutes to foster mutual learning and support.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family – J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons J.K. Jr. and Eli – through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company. The Endowment exists to support the causes of religion, education and community development. Lilly Endowment’s religion grantmaking is designed to deepen and enrich the religious lives of American Christians. It does this largely through initiatives to enhance and sustain the quality of ministry in American congregations and parishes.

STU will begin accepting applications the spring of 2016. To learn more about STU IMPACT, please contact Sr. Ondina Cortes at 305-474-6870, or

Marlen Lebish

Author Marlen Lebish

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