Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary has received a $4.3 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to support the next phase of development of The Hispanic Summer Program (HSP). Grant funds will be used to house and support HSP’s growth and sustainability and to launch new undergraduate and scholarly initiatives. Through this grant, HSP will open a new office on the Austin Seminary campus.
Founded in 1989, HSP is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to support the development of Latinx theological leaders. Nearly forty university departments of theology, seminaries, divinity and theological schools representing Protestant, Catholic, evangelical, Pentecostal, and interreligious traditions have joined the roster of HSP sponsors during its three-decade history. More than 1,800 graduate students, mostly Latinx, have studied at the HSP under more than 100 Latinx professors. Many students now serve on the faculty or administration of institutions across the Americas, have become ministers in a variety of religious institutions throughout the continental U.S. and Puerto Rico, or become organizers, activists, or political leaders in their communities. Austin Seminary Professor Emeritus Ismael Garcia was the second director of HSP (1999-2002).
Since 2017—under the leadership of Dr. Daisy L. Machado—the HSP has been awarded a series of grants (including from the Forum for Theological Exploration and Lilly Endowment) to establish new programming and infrastructure that builds upon the historic vision and mission of the organization. With these new funds, the HSP has been able to meet the challenges of an ever-evolving Latinx community—one that is more religiously and linguistically diverse—while ensuring that it continues its ongoing work of shaping the next generation of Latinx theological and academic leaders.
From its new home, HSP will continue highly acclaimed programs like the HSP Summer Session, HSP J-Term, Latinx Discernment Workshop, HSP Exchange, and El Semillero Workshop on Finance, Fundraising, and Development (in partnership with the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving). Exciting new initiatives include:
- Launching HSP for Undergrads, a credit-granting program for undergraduate students discerning graduate-level studies
- Hosting the Latinidad in the Context of Theological Education Summit to produce public materials on Latinidad and theological education.
- Expanding the HSP Fellows Program which will now hire early career professionals alongside Latinx master’s students to gain tools in non-profit management while supporting the work of the HSP
- Creating Through Hispanic Eyes @ Workshops, an initiative that will equip graduate-level faculty with tools to better serve Latinx populations.
- Expanding the HSP Pedagogy Workshop to equip Latinx faculty with teaching tools for graduate courses across multiple modalities.
“Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary is excited to partner with the Hispanic Summer Program for this next phase of service,” says Austin Seminary President José Irizarry, who served as the executive director of the Hispanic Summer Program from 2003 to 2006. “The Seminary’s proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border in a state with a Hispanic majority population makes this a natural fit for the organization’s next stage of growth. This grant will open new avenues of collaboration for the HSP and Austin Seminary as we embrace a shared mission of service to Hispanic/Latinx communities and to the diversification of scholarly sources for theological research and learning.
“We are delighted to welcome the Hispanic Summer Program to Austin Seminary as a concrete expression of our vision to widen our place,” he continued, “not only by intentionally welcoming diverse cultural and linguistic communities into this site of learning, but by deliberate engagement with the ways those voices enrich our capacity to do theological education well.”
Machado said, “There is much to celebrate as the HSP begins this new phase of work and programming. We move forward with our new collaborators at Austin Seminary with much joy and anticipation.”