In late 1990, Lilly Endowment Inc. (an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation) launched the Louisville Institute, based at the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company, the Endowment supports the causes of religion, education, and community development. The Religion Division of Lilly Endowment works with people and institutions of promise to generate knowledge, communicate insights, nurture practices, and renew and sustain institutions that help to make accessible and effective the religious resources upon which a flourishing and humane society depends.

By sharing in that task, the Louisville Institute expresses its own conviction that strong religious communities grounded in enduring traditions of thought and practice are indispensable to a good society. As a program funded by Lilly Endowment, the Louisville Institute builds upon the Endowment’s long-standing support of both leadership education and scholarly research on American religion, including American Catholicism, American Protestantism, the historic African-American churches, and the Hispanic religious experience.

The Louisville Institute has conducted its work through a program of grantmaking, convening, and, more recently, a fellowship program in theological education. Current grant programs include: Pastoral Study Project, First Book Grant Program for Minority Scholars, Project Grants for Researchers, Sabbatical Grants for Researchers and Collaborative Inquiry Teams. Current fellowship programs in theological education include: Doctoral Fellowships, Postdoctoral Fellowships, and Dissertation Fellowships. Our convening work has principally gathered pastors, academics, and the two groups together.