Grants awarded for debt relief

Grants awarded for debt relief

Grants will help religious life candidates with burdensome student loans








The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation has awarded the National Religious Vocation Conference a $2.55 million grant to establish a fund to assist religious communities with candidates who have student loan obligations. In addition, the GHR Foundation has approved a grant of $193,000 for the initial costs of setting up an office for the fund.

This funding comes in response to a 2011 study NRVC sponsored that revealed that student loans held by young people were a serious barrier that complicated, delayed, or thwarted many vocations to religious life.

Within the next month, a project director will be hired to oversee the establishment and incorporation of the fund, and help with selecting a board that will in turn hire an executive director.

Although specific issues regarding structure, governance, and procedures have yet to be established, here is some general information about the fund:

  1. The fund will make grants to religious institutes to cover candidates’ loan payments during the period prior to final vows.
  2. The fund will assist congregations in developing policies and resources so they can work more effectively with inquirers and candidates who have educational debt.
  3. While the fund will be separately incorporated as a charitable trust with its own board separate from that of NRVC, its governance will be integrally linked to the NRVC.
  4. To counterbalance the dominant narrative of decline, the fund will serve as a sign of hope to the Church and those who are discerning a vocation that religious life has a future and that student loans are not insurmountable to the pursuit of a religious vocation.
  5. NRVC membership is a requirement of eligibility. Only a registered member of NRVC from a canonically recognized religious institute may apply for a grant from the fund.

NRVC thanks Dr. Kathleen Mahoney, project director, who has judiciously and wisely shepherded this project from its genesis two years ago. In addition, we extend appreciation to those who served on the original working group that developed the concept and framework of this fund: Sister Ellen Dauwer, SC; Sister Barbara Mullen, CSJ; Father Anthony Vinson, OSB; Sister Anne Walsh, ASCJ; and Father Daniel Ward, OSB.

NRVC also recognizes with gratitude the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and the GHR Foundation for their exceptional generosity, their continued confidence in NRVC and its mission, and their common support of religious institutes and their ministries and members, especially women religious.


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