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Whitworth University Receives Lilly Endowment Inc. Grant to Fund Grounded Faith Initiative

April 12, 2022

Whitworth University is pleased to announce it has received a nearly $1.5 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to fund the Grounded Faith Initiative, a collaboration between the Office of Church Engagement (OCE) and the Parish Collective. 

The Parish Collective is a growing collective of churches, missional groups, faith-based organizations and community development associations that are rooted in the neighborhood and linked across cities.

The purpose of the Grounded Faith Initiative is to connect established neighborhood congregations with young adults who feel a vested interest in the same neighborhoods. The hope is these relationships will provide vocational discernment and mentorship to young adults, out of which will emerge innovative ministries to serve communities. 

The innovation hub will gather groups of three churches in five cities across the United States as part of a network of congregations committed to the initiative’s mission and to sharing their experiences and insights with one another. This multi-city, multiyear process will identify, connect and launch new ventures of young adults with the support of neighborhood-rooted congregations. 

Congregations will be selected by a team that includes the program director and Parish Collective and OCE staff. This group will collaborate to ensure that congregations possess the right attributes and represent a diverse sampling across denominational, geographic, ethnic and cultural difference. 

The OCE will work closely with the staff of the Parish Collective, including Executive Director Tim Soerens and Program Director Lauren Goldbloom, a local pastor and member of the OCE’s Resilient Church project. 

“The OCE is thrilled to work on this new young adult initiative in partnership with Parish Collective,” says Mindy Smith, Whitworth’s director of church engagement. “There is no better time for us to be cultivating new and innovative ways to make the church accessible to young people. We are excited for another opportunity to pour into churches in the Spokane community and around the country, all led by Lauren Goldbloom, a dear friend of the OCE. We are so eager to learn together for the future of God’s church.”

Lilly Endowment is supporting the project through its Young Adult Ministry Initiative, a national effort to support organizations that are working to deepen the religious lives of young adults, ages 23 to 29, and to engage them more fully in the life of the Christian congregations.

About Lilly Endowment:

Lilly Endowment is an Indianapolis-based, private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, the Endowment is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with its founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion. 

About Whitworth University:

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian church. The university, has an enrollment of nearly 3,000 students and offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Alexis Perry, assistant director of communications, Office of Church Engagement, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4439 or

Trisha Coder, media relations manager, (509) 777-4703 or