Financial wood blocksEmory University’s Candler School of Theology has received a $250,000 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to develop a model curriculum for improving the financial literacy of its students.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Lilly Endowment to help our students learn to navigate the ever-changing financial landscape,” says Candler Dean Jan Love.

“Candler wants to prepare the next generation of clergy to make wise financial decisions that will alleviate debt, strengthen their administrative and fiscal leadership, and support ministries in the local church and beyond,” she explains. “This grant allows us to make great strides in that.”

Lilly Endowment awarded the grant as part of its Theological School Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Future Ministers, which is designed to assist theology schools in examining financial literacy issues in order to improve the economic well-being of future pastoral leaders. Candler is one of 16 schools to participate in the program.

The grant will fund a three-year required curriculum for Candler’s Master of Divinity degree 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.

Set to begin in the fall of 2013, the new curriculum is based in part on the success of Candler Advantage, a program the school created in 2009 after studying the problem of student debt. A competitive internship program, Candler Advantage provides stipends, professional development opportunities, and financial counseling.

Candler School of Theology, Emory University prepares real people to make a real difference in the real world. An intellectually vital, internationally distinguished and intentionally diverse university-based school of theology, its mission is to educate faithful and creative leaders for the church's ministries in the world. Candler is dedicated to expanding knowledge of religion and theology, deepening spiritual life, strengthening the public witness of the churches, and building upon the breadth of Christian traditions, particularly the Wesleyan heritage, for the positive transformation of church and world. It is one of 13 United Methodist Church seminaries, with an enrollment of nearly 500 students representing 44 denominations and more than 7,500 alumni worldwide.