Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible?

The College is based on the principle that transformation happens in community over time. Individual awards are not available. Only cohort groups of four to six pastoral leaders may apply to receive a grant from the College.

The category of pastoral leaders includes ordained clergy serving in a pastoral setting, chaplains, congregational pastors and preachers not required to be ordained but currently serving in full-time ministry, and bi-vocational pastors.

What constitutes a cohort group?

Each group consists of not fewer than four and not more than six members. One person serves as the contact person for the College. Each group can determine how needs for leadership, facilitation, reporting, logistics and other matters will be met.

Each member should be engaged in an official capacity for ministry and be in good standing.

Cohort groups must meet together with regularity during the two year period. Each group will determine the frequency, duration and setting of their meetings. Members need not live in the same geographic area nor be members of the same denomination; neither is that prohibited.

Each member should be willing and able to commit to:

  • participate fully in the group for a two-year period, including entering into covenants, agreements or other promises made by the group;
  • set individual intentions for their own heart, soul, mind, and strength; and
  • share those intentions with the other members of the group, as agreed.

Each cohort must: 

  1.      Submit financial reports to Austin Seminary as specified.
  2.      Submit quarterly updates during 2015, 2016 and the first two quarters of 2017. 
  3.      Submit a final report by July 31, 2017.

What does the application require?

There are two parts to the application: Cohort Information and Proposal and Individual Information. Members of the cohort must discuss and prepare the proposal of the community and submit one Cohort Information form. The proposal needs to be well-thought out, coherent and reflective of group development.

Individuals must also each prepare and submit an Individual Information form. Click here to see the application.

Incomplete applications will not be considered.

What makes a strong proposal?

The most compelling proposals include:

(1) a statement of hoped-for learnings or changes;

(2) a well-articulated relationship between the proposed activities and the hoped-for learnings or changes;

(3) a robust agenda, meaning non-trivial subject matter and actions, adequate attention to the cohort as community, an explicit but not overly constraining learning agenda, and ongoing practices to support the enterprise;

(4) a sound, thoughtful, realistic budget. Should your group develop a plan which requires a budget greater than $10,000, you may submit it so long as you indicate the sources of additional income needed. Cohort members often contribute continuing education funds from their own organizational budgets.

Before submitting your proposal, ask yourself these questions:

  • Have we made explicit provision for regular contact?
  • Is our plan specific about where will go and what we will do? Plans may change, but have a solid plan in place.
  • Have we used consistent language to describe activities throughout? Does the language of the narrative match the language of the budget? Have someone who has not been part of the process read the cohort information for clarity and coherence.
  • Is this budget based in reality? Check airline fares, hotel rates and standard meal allowances.
  • If our total budget is more than $10,000, have we stated clearly and convincingly the sources of excess funds? Is this realistic?
  • Does this plan sound plausible to someone who does not know us?
  • Does our personality shine through?
  • Does it sound too much like a school project? Too much like amusement only?
  • Look at your individual answers in relation to the proposal. What do you see?
  • Are we excited about the prospect?

Applicants are welcome to consult with Melissa Wiginton, Vice President for Education Beyond the Walls, as they are preparing proposals.

What will not be funded?

Absent exceptional circumstances, proposals will not be awarded which:

  • seek to host one event as the sole cohort activity
  • only fund participation by members in a group traveling as part of another institution
  • aim to launch a new ministry effort
  • dedicate more than 10% of the award to the purchase of equipment
  • include more than 10% of the award for costs allocated to individual activities, such as individual spiritual direction, couples counseling
  • provide more than 50% of the budget to one resource person.

Applicants are welcome to consult with Melissa Wiginton, Vice President for Education Beyond the Walls, as they are preparing proposals.

How is the award distributed?

Awards will be made for not more than $10,000. A lump sum will not be disbursed. Cohort members will be reimbursed for funds expended. (Complete guidelines will be provided upon acceptance.) In special circumstances, funds can be released to prepay substantial expenses.

What are the timelines?

Deadline for application: May 15, 2016

Awards announced: June 30, 2016

Start date for grants: July 1, 2016

End date for grants: June 30, 2018

What is the selection process?

Each application will be reviewed by a selection panel composed of Austin Seminary faculty, Austin Seminary administrators, and former members of the College of Pastoral Leaders.

Applications will be evaluated in keeping with the criteria set forth in “What makes a good proposal?”

Preference will be given to qualified first time applicants.

Consideration will also be given to selecting a class of cohort groups who represent diverse perspectives, races and traditions.

Up to eight awards of not more than $10,000 each will be made.

Applicants will be notified through the designated cohort contact person no later than June 30 on the disposition of their application.

What is required if we receive a grant?

  1. Each member of the cohort must sign and return the College Acceptance Form.
  2. Submit financial reports and requests for reimbursement to Austin Seminary as specified.
  3. Submit brief quarterly updates reporting on activities set forth in the proposal or changes that have been made.
  4. Submit a final report by July 31, 2017.

May we apply if we have previously received a grant?

Yes, although preference will be given to qualified first time applicants.

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