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Million-Dollar Grant

Vanguard University awarded money to assist Hispanic congregations.

Vanguard University, the Assemblies of God school in Costa Mesa, California, has received a $1 million grant to expand its efforts to support thriving Hispanic congregations. Lilly Endowment awarded the funds in support of the Jesse Miranda Center for Hispanic Leadership program.

This is the first private grant the university has received with a focus on Hispanic congregational needs, as well as the first in partnership with congregations. The funding from the Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation will enable Vanguard to increase its ministry efforts to local Hispanic congregations through education, training, and community partnerships. Monies will be disbursed over five years through the end of December 2024.

AG Executive Presbyter Daniel de León says the majority of Hispanic congregations in Orange County, where Vanguard is located, need leadership due to a lack of well-equipped and trained pastors.

Vanguard has been working to tackle the problem by providing students who are called to ministry with the education and resources to become community leaders, according to de León, a Vanguard alumus.

Miranda, who died last year, founded the institute that bears his name. His son Jack is carrying on the legacy as executive director.

“It was Dr. Miranda’s vision to create opportunities for Hispanic students in Orange County,” says Jon Albaugh, dean of missional effectiveness at Vanguard University, which is commemorating its centennial this year. “Vanguard is honored to be part of this initiative to increase the number of thriving Hispanic congregations and educate and empower students to also share in this movement.”

In addition to the Southern Pacific District (the AG’s Hispanic district in the southern portion of the Golden State), the AG SoCal Network also has been working to increase effectiveness among ethnic minority churches.

In 2017, Vanguard University received a $3.75 million grant, the largest in school history, to both increase retention and graduation rates among Hispanic and low-income transfer students as well as to develop partnerships with local community colleges to enhance transfer rates.

Photo: The late Jesse Miranda Jr. converses with Hispanic students on the Vanguard University campus.