Investing in Leaders: Financial Well-being Resource Grant


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. Note: This grant was previously called the Student Debt Reduction Grant. It has been expanded to provide clergy with more resources and follow-up opportunities.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • 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 and actively serving a local UM congregation OR is under appointment and actively serving an extension ministry in the Dakotas or Minnesota 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 three years dependent upon the future availability of grants.

Steps in the Application Process:

  • Complete the application by August 1, 2020.
  • Provide responses supporting the completion of personal finance education. If personal finance education has not been completed, please contact Diane Owen, program director, at before completing the application for assistance in identifying appropriate financial education options.
  • 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 or 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 application’s status by September 15, 2020.
  • 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 application’s approval. The grant may be disbursed in one lump sum or in 12 payments over one year to one or more loan institutions.
  • The CARES Act (Section 2206) enables employers to provide a student loan repayment benefit up to $5250 to employees on a tax-free basis. The provision applies to any student loan payments made by an employer on behalf of an employee after the date of enactment of the CARES Act and before January 21, 2021.

Exploration Agreement:

Do you experience anxiety and fear created by financial stress? Do you feel empowered to plan for your best future beginning now? Do you understand your relationship with money and how to manage that relationship versus allowing money to manage you? Do you have financial goals and a plan towards reaching those goals?

Improving financial well-being can best be achieved by exploring one’s 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 resourcing grant, this grant will include your participation in the exploration of your financial health and well-being on a deeper level by:

  • Completing a brief written financial self-assessment
  • Participating in a confidential conversation to review the results of the assessment with the program director, Diane Owen.
  • Naming one or two 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


Personal Information

Please include your home address (not church address)

*First Name
*Last Name
*Address 1
Address 2
*Social Security Number
Clergy Information
*Are you serving a local UM congregation or extension ministry under appointment of the Dakotas or Minnesota Annual Conference? Or have you been under active appointment within the last year, but are currently on leave?
*Number of years under appointment
*Date of first appointment in the Annual Conference
*Employment status
*Clergy Status
*Beyond your appointment at the local church, how or in what capacity are you serving in the Annual Conference?
Financial Information

The following information is requested to better obtain a complete picture of your educational debt. Please provide the total education loan balance, monthly payment, and final payment date (as of grant submission date) for each of the following as applicable.

Undergraduate debt: total education loan balance
Undergraduate debt: monthly payment
Undergraduate debt: final payment date
Graduate debt: total education loan balance
Graduate debt: monthly payment
Graduate debt: final payment date
Seminary debt: total education loan balance
Seminary debt: monthly payment
Seminary debt: final payment date
*Personal Statement

Please provide additional information about your financial situation that you think would be helpful to the Investing in Leaders Grant review team in the review process. How will this opportunity be helpful?

*Personal Financial Education

What continuing education have you pursued related to financial literacy? Consider the following options. Check all that apply.

Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (participant or instructor)
GoodSense Movement’s Freed Up Financial Living (participant or instructor)
EY Services Financial Assessment and Planning Services
Clergy Benefits Academy
Other (specify below)
*Personal Financial Education description

Provide the dates of completion and a description of your participation in the program(s) you checked above.

Are you currently working with a financial advisor? If yes, describe further.
*In addition to the above, describe any other efforts to improve your financial well-being over the last three years.

Be specific.

Grant Renewal
Have you previously received a grant from this program (previously called the Student Debt Reduction Grant)? If yes, indicate if this is your first or second renewal.
*Signature As a clergy leader of the Dakotas and Minnesota Annual Conferences, I recognize the importance of completing and submitting this application with integrity and full transparency. As such, I request the Investing in Leaders Resource Grant to include the $5000 education debt reduction award (or the remainder of student loan debt, whichever is less) and will engage in the steps to improve my financial well-being as described.

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