The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology has been awarded a competitive grant of $400,000 from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust over a three-year period. Not only is the financial benefit of this grant profound but the grantor being Murdock Trust is significant for The Seattle School. Our new VP of Advancement, Jim Ehrman commented, “When I heard that we secured a Murdock Trust grant my first thought was not about the amount but the vote of confidence that comes when such a well-respect philanthropic foundation gives you an award. Murdock is known not just regionally but nation-wide as a rigorous and thoughtful grantor – and to get a grant from them is something worth celebrating on several levels.”

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the school had been exploring ways to build infrastructure and capacity to offer online and hybrid offerings to learners not able to be physically present at its Seattle campus. This grant enables the school to move more rapidly into this space and toward becoming not only a local and regional graduate institution but a national one.

“I am pleased and excited that the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust has agreed to fund our proposal. As you all know, we have been building towards developing our capacity to be online even before the pandemic. By receiving this grant we have the opportunity to increase the personnel we need to be effective and expand our capacity to offer a quality learning experience online,” said Dr. J. Derek McNeil, President of The Seattle School.

How the school will continue to offer its graduate programs and additional training opportunities will continue to evolve in the coming year, both out of necessity due to the global impact of COVID-19 as seen during its rapid transition to a fully online campus this past March, but also due to the changing needs of learners across the country. A larger number of students enrolled in the school’s 2020 cohort are from out of state, or in some cases out of the country. This necessitates a new way of making courses and content accessible for learners unable to move to the Greater Seattle Area for the time when higher education institutions are able to gather on-campus.

“The crisis of the pandemic has presented us with unique opportunities to reimagine our how. The what–our mission–remains a steadfast guide as we navigate changes with perseverance and, as these grants demonstrate, with a vote of confidence from others,” said Dr. McNeil.

Over a three-year period, the grant will enable the school to support its faculty and staff as they consciously create hybrid learning spaces that meet the needs of all learners. The grant aims to build the long-term sustainability of the school by increasing student accessibility and developing low-residency graduate, certificate, and other programs.

Reimagining theological education for online spaces is no small feat for a highly-relational institution, but The Seattle School has proven itself able to pivot and adapt with great success, as shown by its record enrollment for Fall 2020. The school is also committed to continuing to build partnerships, both locally and nationally, to foster collaboration as it steps into a new realm of learning.