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Augsburg receives $1.25 million grant from Lilly Endowment

Augsburg UniversityAugsburg University has received a renewal grant of $1.25 million from Lilly Endowment Inc. to further develop the work of the Christensen Center for Vocation and its Riverside Innovation Hub initiative. The Riverside Innovation Hub helps congregations build new connections with young adults at the intersections of their faith and their public lives and works with congregations towards becoming public churches. 

This work is being funded through Lilly Endowment’s Young Adult Initiative, which aims to help congregations develop and strengthen ministries that build relationships with young adults, nurture their religious lives, and foster their engagement with religious communities.

Augsburg’s Christensen Center for Vocation is eager to deepen its capacity to accompany congregations and young adults discerning their call, in relationship with their neighborhoods. We are grateful for the Lilly Endowment’s continued support of these efforts as Augsburg lives into a new imagination of congregational relations for the 21st century,” said Paul Pribbenow, Augsburg University president.

In 2017, Augsburg received $1.5 million from Lilly Endowment’s Young Adult Initiative to enable the creation of the Riverside Innovation Hub. The Riverside Innovation Hub has partnered with 25 congregations along two overlapping pathways. Sixteen congregations were accepted into a 3 ½-year partnership with RIH, which included working with an innovation coach toward experiments that were supported by grant funding. Another nine congregations have participated in learning events, taking key insights and questions from the larger experiment into their own contexts. They have been learning at the periphery from the main cohort of congregations and contributing their voices and experiences to the shared learning of this project. Thanks to a Thriving Congregations grant from the Lilly Endowment, RIH launched a second learning community of local congregations focused on the call to be public churches in the summer of 2021.

In phase two of Lilly’s Young Adult Initiative, Augsburg will work with young adult leaders to write a manifesto to the church, articulating their hopes and dreams for the church; create a national network of ministry leaders and congregations who are interested in the idea of public churches; and design training modules for this work.

To learn more about the Christensen Center for Vocation and its work, visit Augsburg’s Christensen Center for Vocation website

About Lilly Endowment Inc.
Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company. Although the gifts of stock remain a financial bedrock of the Endowment, it is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment exists to support the causes of religion, education and community development. The Endowment funds significant programs throughout the United States, especially in the field of religion. However, it maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana. The principal aim of the Endowment’s grantmaking in religion is to deepen and enrich the lives of Christians in the United States, primarily by seeking out and supporting efforts that enhance the vitality of congregations and strengthen their pastoral and lay leadership. 

About Augsburg

Augsburg University offers more than 50 undergraduate majors and 11 graduate degrees to approximately 3,200 students of diverse backgrounds at its campus in the vibrant center of the Twin Cities and nearby Rochester, Minnesota, location. Augsburg educates students to be informed citizens, thoughtful stewards, critical thinkers, and responsible leaders. An Augsburg education is defined by excellence in the liberal arts and professional studies, guided by the faith and values of the Lutheran church, and shaped by its urban and global settings. Learn more at

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