Johnson University has received a $600,000 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to support the creation of the Knoxville Future of Hope Institute. This grant was made available through the High School Youth Theology Institutes initiative, which seeks to encourage young people to explore theological traditions, ask questions about the moral dimensions of contemporary issues and examine how their faith calls them to lives of service.
Through this newly formed institute, a group of approximately 25 high-potential high school students, primarily from Knoxville’s Empowerment Zone neighborhoods, will spend one week living, learning, and serving together. Students will then spend six months collaborating with mentors from partner agencies across Knoxville to develop and implement a service project that provides a concrete response to one of the challenging issues facing the city.
“The Lilly grant allows Johnson University to not only fund the classes, mentorships and service projects but also to compensate students for the time invested away from their summer jobs and provide college scholarships for Future of Hope graduates,” said Dr. Gary David Stratton, Johnson University dean of arts and sciences and chairman of the Future of Hope project.
The Future of Hope Institute is a partnership between Johnson University and Knoxville area non-profits and churches, including Knoxville Leadership Foundation, Emerald Youth Foundation, Knoxville Fellows, Young Life, Compassion Coalition, Berean Christian School, New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, Fellowship Church North, First Baptist Knoxville, First Baptist Concord, All Souls, Crossings, and Fellowship Evangelical Free Church.
“Lilly’s $600,000 investment in the youth of Knoxville allows us to extend Johnson’s partnership with Knoxville churches and non-profits to a new generation of city leaders,” said Dr. Gary Weedman, Johnson University president. “We want to help these student leaders find a hopeful future and help them usher in a future of hope for the city of Knoxville as well.”
The program will begin accepting applications in early spring and will launch this summer.