Two recent grants are fueling a new emphasis on teaching financial literacy at Candler. This fall Lilly Endowment Inc. awarded the school $250,000 to develop a model curriculum for improving student financial literacy. Awarded as part of a Lilly Endowment initiative to address economic challenges facing future ministers, this gift will build on work funded by an earlier grant from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, which sponsored multi-faceted learning opportunities ranging from the “Simple Enough?” lecture series on living within your means to this fall’s cooking classes designed to teach students how to make healthy, economical meals.

According to a 2005 report by the Auburn Center for the Study of Theological Education, an increasing number of seminary students borrow money to fund their education and graduate with tens of thousands of dollars in debt. The report recommended that theological schools take a proactive approach to educating students about money management.  

“Candler wants to prepare the next generation of clergy to make wise financial decisions that will alleviate debt, strengthen their fiscal and administrative leadership, and support ministries in the local church and beyond,” says Dean Jan Love.

To this end, Candler is applying the Lilly grant to the creation of a three-year required curriculum for all master of divinity students that focuses on personal financial literacy, financial administration in ecclesial settings, and financial management for ministerial professionals. Training in personal financial planning and debt management will be included in Candler’s advising groups for first- and third-year students. Second-year students will learn to handle finances in ministerial settings through the school’s field-based Contextual Education program. In each year of study, students will meet with a financial advisor to tailor a financial plan based on their individual goals, resources, and responsibilities. The curriculum is set to begin in the fall of 2013.