Asbury University Receives $600,000 Lilly Grant – Asbury University
Shapemaximize playTriangle

January 7, 2016

A $600,000 grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc. will fund Asbury’s new theology and leadership camp for high school students.WILMORE, Ky. — Asbury University has received a grant of $600,000 to establish Youth Becoming Leaders: High School Christian Leadership and Global Transformation Institute (YBL), a summer camp in theology and leadership for high school students. 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.

A two-week residential camp in theology and leadership, YBL will encourage youth to interact with scripture and theological texts, participate in service projects and think through global issues. The first YBL camp will be held on the Asbury campus this summer, June 6-17, and is open to high school sophomores, juniors and seniors who are committed to Christ, leaders in their local communities, academically gifted and interested in exploring a call to ministry. A $125 fee covers room, board and activities for the two-week camp. Apply now at:

“There is an urgent need for theologically-minded leaders in the church and in the society, and Asbury University has always been and continues to be uniquely qualified to equip young people who are called into these roles of service,” said Charlie Shepard ’99, Asbury’s Vice President for Institutional Advancement. “This new partnership with the Lilly Endowment presents us with another tool to help young men and women become prepared to thoughtfully and compassionately engage with others.”

Asbury Professor Brian Hull, who serves as project director and was principal author of the grant proposal, says YBL will play a role in the cultivation of young leaders for church and society by creating life-changing opportunities.

“One of the things we know from research is that students who have opportunities to lead when they’re young step into those roles sooner as adults,” Hull said. “We are incredibly grateful to the Lilly Endowment for this opportunity to make a difference in the lives of young people.”

Asbury 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.


For more information about YBL (and to apply), please visit:

For more information about other Asbury ImpactU camps this summer, please visit: