To improve the financial well-being of clergy under appointment in the Dakotas and Minnesota Annual Conferences by providing education debt reduction grants and resources to achieve financial health goals.
The Investing in Leaders Resource grant has combined with the MEF (Ministerial Education Fund) Student Debt Reduction Grants provided by the Board of Ordained Ministries from both the Dakotas and Minnesota Annual Conference. As a result, student debt grants are accessible through a single application process and with expanded financial resources and opportunities for clergy.
- The applicant is a provisional or ordained deacon or elder, associate member, or a licensed local pastor in good standing with the Dakotas or Minnesota Annual Conferences.
The applicant has been under appointment for at least one year.
The applicant is under appointment in the Dakotas or Minnesota Annual Conference (including those serving in a missionary conference)and actively serving a local UM congregation or in extension ministry, or has been under active appointment within the last year, but is currently on leave.
The applicant is able to provide evidence of current student loan debt resulting from college or seminary education.
The applicant can demonstrate the completion of personal financial education.
The applicant, as described above, is eligible to receive up to $5000 not to exceed the student loan payoff, renewable up to five years dependent upon the future availability of grants. Total combined grant awards received from the MEF student debt reduction granting program and Investing in Leaders Resource granting program cannot exceed $25,000.
If participating in the Federal Income-based Repayment Program, the grant award may be equal to the required payments for one year. If less than $5000, the pastor is eligible to apply the remaining balance to future grant awards in subsequent years not to exceed $25,000.
Steps in the Application Process:
- Complete the application by August 1, 2021.
- Provide responses supporting the completion of personal finance education. If personal finance education has not been completed, please contact Diane Owen, program director, at firstname.lastname@example.org completing the application for assistance in identifying appropriate financial education options.
- Provide responses to demonstrate progress on identified financial goals.
- Provide evidence of student loan debt repayment commitment and current balance along with loan information needed for payment.
- Submit application and student loan debt information to Diane Owen at email@example.com mail to: Diane Owen, 122 W. Franklin Ave., Ste. 400, Minneapolis, MN 55404-2453.
Investing in Leaders Review Team and Process:
- The review team is comprised of the program director and staff of the Dakotas and Minnesota United Methodist Foundations along with United Methodist lay people from the Dakotas and Minnesota Annual Conferences. Clergy or staff of either Annual Conference are not part of the review team. All personal information provided is held in strict confidence and not shared with anyone outside of the team without your consent.
- The review team notifies the grant recipient of the applications status by September 15, 2021.
- The program director contacts the grant recipient to begin the exploration process for connection to resources. (See Exploration Agreement below.)
- A grant up to $5,000 is paid to the institution holding the loan within 60 days of the applications approval. The grant may be disbursed in one lump sum or in 12 payments over one year to one or more loan institutions.
Improving financial well-being can best be achieved by exploring ones total financial health, not simply by addressing one area of debt. The Investing in Leaders granting opportunity extends beyond the $5000 education debt reduction grant and seeks to empower you by investing in you, connecting you to the knowledge, skills, and resources you need to explore, set, and achieve goals for financial health.
Therefore, once you are approved for the Investing in Leaders Resource Grant, acceptance will include your participation in the exploration of your financial health and well-being on a deeper level by:
- Completing an online financial self-assessment
- Participating in a confidential conversation to review the results of the assessment with the program director, Diane Owen.
- Providing progress on goals identified through last year's process, if applicable.
- Naming 2-3 goals that could improve financial well-being.
- Connecting with suggested resources that could help assist you with achieving your goals.
- Completing a follow-up assessment one year later.
If you have questions about the grant process or need additional resources, contact Diane Owen at firstname.lastname@example.org.