Last month, The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology’s Office of Students & Alumni was awarded a $257,000 grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. The three-year grant, officially titled the Alumni Vocational Care & Formation Program for Early Career Transition, will be used to help build and develop alumni infrastructure and programming. Paul Steinke, Dean of Students & Alumni and Field Abbott at The Seattle School, highlighted four areas of focus in implementing the grant: alumni career services; vocational formation, continuing education, and other alumni curriculum; licensing and ordination assistance; and the ongoing development of national alumni chapters.
Current alumni chapters include hub cities in central Texas, Arizona, Colorado, and the Bay Area. These chapters allow graduates of The Seattle School to gather in their local contexts to support each other in their ongoing education and vocational development. Other alumni initiatives at The Seattle School include (S)ending, a season of events and conversations designed to support graduating students through the transition of becoming alumni, as well as the expansion of Portfolio Groups and the launch of an innovative new Alumni Directory (more on that in coming weeks).
The Murdock Trust provides grants and enrichment programs to non-profit organizations that seek to strengthen the Pacific Northwest’s educational, spiritual, and cultural base in creative and sustainable ways. “While we are deeply grateful to M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust for their partnership in this work, what impressed them the most was the obvious, long-term commitment of The Seattle School toward its alumni and our alumni’s continuing support (financial and otherwise) of the school and each other,” Steinke wrote in a recent letter to alumni. “For each, I can’t say ‘thank you’ enough.”
This announcement comes on the heels of two other recent grants The Seattle School has received: a $42,000 grant from the Stewardship Foundation for executive team and board development, and a $20,000 grant for faculty development from the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion. The Wabash grant is being used to help refresh, train, and support faculty through a series of retreats, mentorship and learning opportunities with prominent figures in the fields of leadership and education, and the ongoing process of updating The Seattle School’s philosophy of education and Common Core curriculum.
Dr. Keith Anderson, President of The Seattle School, addressed these grants in his annual State of the School address earlier this year. “Foundations don’t give grants to organizations they don’t trust,” he said. “These are signs of foundations’ trust in our vision and leadership in each of these areas.”
In that address, Anderson also declared that 2015 is a year of alignment for The Seattle School. These grants offer crucial support to staff and faculty as they seek to creatively adapt to the changing field of graduate education while ensuring that The Seattle School’s programs, curriculum, and alumni services align with the founding mission: training people to be competent in the study of text, soul, and culture in order to serve God and neighbor through transforming relationships.