LABI Receives Signficant Grant
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Aside from the proliferation of the grants being awarded to one relatively small school — LABI has 60 learning communities/extensions with about 1,500 students participating, 300 students in its seminary, and about 100 students on it main campus — the successful grant proposals all have one thing in common: Harris wrote each one.
“This latest grant proposal was called Thriving Congregations Initiative,” Harris says. “It’s about helping our pastors thrive in their learning communities, providing them with education, training, and workshops along with an emphasis on mental health and wellness for pastors.”
But it’s not like Harris was born with the ability to write compelling grants or lead a one-time struggling institution. God has deftly prepared Harris for this unique leadership role.
An ordained AG minister, who has experience with working with the poor and homeless, Harris holds a doctorate in clinical psychology and has taught and served in leadership positions at colleges and universities for more than two decades. But what is perhaps most eye-catching is that he is also a registered consultant with the American Psychological Association, the U.S. Department of Education, and the U.S. Department of Justice, including scoring and reviewing federal grants for Hispanic-serving institutions.
In other words, it’s safe to say, God has the right person in place at the right time.
Harris says that with the current grant, the school will consolidate some of the learning communities extensions into three main sites or hubs. The sites currently being considered for “mini” LABI campuses are San Diego, Riverside, and La Puenta, with the goal being to have the three locations accredited within three years.
“Currently the learning communities are certificate programs,” Harris says. “But we want to beef the three sites up and have them accredited in Spanish, which will be a huge blessing to the Spanish pastoral population.
“Just this year, we were nationally accredited at LABI,” continues Harris, who is beginning his seventh year at the school. “And then, just two months ago, we were approved for federal financial aid, which is a big deal — our students are now getting federal financial aid for the first time in the history of our program.”
The significance of Harris’ accomplishments take on more weight when one understands that LABI is the oldest evangelical/Pentecostal Hispanic Bible college in the country, having been founded in 1926. Although Harris sees the accreditation as a six-year journey, in some ways, it’s been a 94-year trek.
As Harris and his team at LABI work to get the three new consolidated sites operational by mid-2021, he is also working to make the school more than affordable.
“A lot of kids attending LABI come from a lower socio-economic status,” he explains. “My goal is for students to graduate with no debt and have very little out-of-pocket costs. It’s a hard combination to do, but that’s my goal as I personally know how student loan debt can follow you for a long time.”
Harris, in addition to serving as president of the college and seminary, takes personal responsibility of the giftings God has provided him, using his training and expertise in clinical psychology to counsel pastors without charge and offering tips and insights to churches, ministries, and schools on successful grant writing.
“It’s important to me and is an important part of my ministry to use my gifts and talents to support the health and wellness of pastors,” Harris says. “And although I don’t have time to write grants [for others], I can give people tips and insights to successful grant writing — I love to help our family of AG ministers, schools, and churches.”