posted June 20, 2006

CrossRoads Project Receives Renewal Grant

The CrossRoads Project at Hope College has received a three-year renewal grant through Lilly Endowment Inc.'s "Program for the Theological Exploration of Vocation" (PTEV).

The $500,000 grant will support the program from the fall of 2009 through the spring of 2012. The CrossRoads Project was established through a $2 million PTEV grant that Hope received from the Endowment in 2002 that will continue to provide funding until the new grant takes effect.

The Endowment awarded initial PTEV grants to 88 colleges and universities in 29 states between 2000 and 2002. It has subsequently awarded renewal grants over the last two years to 69 institutions, including Hope, so that each can extend and further integrate into its ongoing life the most effective and worthwhile projects supported through the initial funding.

The CrossRoads Project coordinates a variety of programs designed to help students reflect on how their faith commitments are related to their career choices and what it means to be "called" to lives of service.

"We are very proud of the opportunities for vocational exploration that Hope College faculty have developed, and that our students are seeking out, with support from the CrossRoads Project," said Dr. David Cunningham, who is director of the CrossRoads Project and a professor of religion at Hope. "This renewal grant demonstrates that both Lilly Endowment and the Hope College administration recognize that this work is central to our mission, and that it needs to become an ongoing part of the college culture."

Dr. James Boelkins, provost at Hope, praised CrossRoads for its impact.

"The CrossRoads Project has been instrumental in achieving our goal to help students identify their calling and to better understand how their faith, gifts and passions can be used to effectively serve the needs of our world," Boelkins said. "The program has impacted students and faculty from virtually every discipline and has enabled a more in-depth understanding and implementation of our mission as a Christian college. We are delighted to be able to have the resources to continue this excellent program."

The CrossRoads Project has four main emphases. It provides opportunities for students and faculty to explore together the liberal arts as a shared vocation that enables them to discern what gives them their deepest joys as human beings and Christians. It helps students explore how their future work in a specialized field of study can meet the world's most pressing needs. It seeks to strengthen the college's partnership with Hope's parent denomination, the Reformed Church in America, and with the wider Christian community in identifying and nurturing leaders for the church. It also encourages faculty and staff to discover deeper and wider understandings of their own vocations.

The program's initiatives have been blended into the college's curriculum and co-curricular offerings in a variety of ways. Its emphasis on the liberal arts as vocation, for example, has included working with faculty interested in integrating vocation into the First-Year Seminars they teach to freshmen at Hope, sponsoring campus-wide speakers focused on vocation and offering gatherings for students interested in discussing vocation. In emphasizing specialized study as vocation, CrossRoads has supported initiatives ranging from health-profession-focused spring break service trips in Nicaragua and on the Apache Reservation in Dulce, N.M.; to the Institute for Student Consulting that provides management-related assistance to minority-owned businesses; to panel discussions in education focused on diversity and the role of faith in teaching; to internships with World Vision in South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. Emphases in theological education as vocation have included establishing a Pre-Seminary Society for students interested in ministry, a seminary visitation program and scholarship support for students who are preparing for seminary. The programs for faculty and staff have included discussion-oriented summer seminars and grants for faculty-student collaborative research or special projects.

The renewal grant is designed to provide up to 50 percent in support as the activities continue, with the college expected to identify sources of ongoing funding for initiatives that will continue beyond the grant period.

Founded in 1937, the Endowment is an Indianapolis-based private foundation that supports its founders' wishes by supporting the causes of religion, community development and education. Through the most recent round of renewal grants, the Endowment has awarded more than $217 million via the PTEV initiative.