African American Leadership Scholarship
The African American Leadership Scholarship is a 50% scholarship for African American students who have experience in and a heart for ministry in African American, multiethnic, or urban contexts. It is for RTS students in any degree program at any campus.
Since this is a leadership scholarship, and not a scholarship solely based on ethnicity, as part of the financial aid application, applicants will need to write an essay about their experience in and heart for ministry in African American, multiethnic, or urban contexts.
This scholarship will first be available to students enrolling in the 2018-19 academic year.
RTS Jackson launched the African American Leadership Initiative in 2012 and by 2016 the African American enrollment increased fivefold. The African American Leadership Scholarship extends the scholarship component of AALI institution-wide.
With the African American Leadership Scholarship, RTS is reaching out to a specific ethnic demographic in RTS’s local context. RTS has campuses in cities that have substantial African American populations: Jackson 80%, Memphis 63%, Atlanta 52%, Washington 47%, and Charlotte 34%. In an effort to accomplish our Purpose and Vision, “to serve the church in all branches of evangelical Christianity,” we want to be intentional to make the Reformed tradition and theological education especially accessible to those branches of the church that we have largely failed to reach.
While RTS’s Missional Commitment includes a celebration of the diversity of culture, language, and ethnicity in the Kingdom of God (as seen in Rev 5:9), the goal of this scholarship is not diversity at RTS, though that will be a beneficial byproduct to campus life that will impact the leadership of the church for generations to come. The goal of this scholarship is to serve a diverse church. Leaders from the African American community are better equipped to reach the African American community. By partnering with the church in the African American community to raise up leaders for the church by making theological education more accessible, RTS can better serve all branches of evangelical Christianity.
Like other scholarships at RTS, the African American Leadership Scholarship is offered to students for a determined length of time based on the student’s degree program. AALS is available to MDiv students for 5 years of continuous study, to MA students for 3 years of continuous study, and to Certificate students for 2 years of continuous study.
How to Apply
To apply, an applicant first must be admitted as a student to RTS. Once admitted, the student will fill out the Financial Aid Application, and when the African American Leadership Scholarship is selected, the applicant will be prompted to submit an essay about their experience in and heart for ministry in African American, multiethnic, or urban contexts.
For questions about the African American Leadership Scholarship, please contact either your RTS campus admissions office or the Director of Financial Aid, Brian Gault.
Ligon Duncan, Chancellor and CEO, Reformed Theological Seminary
“From Olaudah Equiano, to Phyllis Wheatley, to John Chavis, to Frances Grimké, to Carl Ellis, Reformed Theology has deeply influenced African American Christianity, and African Americans have made major contributions to Reformed Theology. Today, we are in the midst of a significant reformed awakening in the African American community. By God’s grace, Reformed Theological Seminary has been doing what we can to aid the growth and flourishing of this happy providence. For almost 50 years RTS has had a small, steady stream of African American students, but since the launch of the African American Leadership Initiative (AALI) in 2012, we have seen explosive growth in African American students at RTS. Now, with the establishment of the African American Leadership Scholarship, we aim to take our investment to the next level, and expand our commitment to preparing a new generation of African American pastors, missionaries, educators, counselors, and leaders for service to the whole church and world.”
Thabiti Anyabwile, Pastor, Anacostia River Church
“The African American Leadership Scholarship is not only the kind of tangible support that redresses past neglect but most importantly makes a vital investment in the spread of gospel influence in all communities. Among evangelical seminaries RTS continues to be a leader at working to see the Good News go to every nation, beginning with the people in the next community.”
Jerry Young, Pastor, New Hope Baptist Church; President, National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.
“The African American Leadership Scholarship will provide the opportunity for more African Americans to study at a world-renowned Christian institution, namely, Reformed Theological Seminary, where they will become well equipped to serve and provide Christian leadership within their realm of ministry. This scholarship provides financial resources that will allow them to matriculate through RTS and receive sound, biblically-based knowledge and skills to positively interact and impact society to the glory of our God and the good of His people, world-wide.”
Irwyn L. Ince, Jr., Pastor, City of Hope Presbyterian Church
“When I sensed a call to ministry seventeen years ago, attending RTS DC turned out to be the best decision I could’ve made. Professors who embodied a mind for truth and a heart for God equipped me to serve the church. At the same time, going to RTS was a step of faith. As a husband and father of four I had to pay for seminary while providing for my family. By God’s grace, during my second year of study, a generous church contributed enough funds to cover the remainder of my seminary studies. Their contribution arose from a desire to help more African American students train for ministry in the PCA. Apart from their generosity I do not know how I would have completed seminary without acquiring financial debt. My situation is not unique. If we want to see more African Americans trained for ministry at RTS, the financial component must be addressed. I am overjoyed to see the AALI scholarship expand throughout the RTS campuses. It represents an outworking of the same desire that helped to launch me in to ministry, and I expect it to have a significant impact on raising up the next generation of leadership for Christ’s church.”
Elbert McGowan, Jr., Pastor, Redeemer Church
“I am excited about this new scholarship. Historically speaking, scholarship partnerships at RTS depended largely on a student's affiliation with specific Christian ministries. These are generous and important initiatives that RTS will continue to honor. However, this model tethers scholarship directly to the people these ministries have reached. With little diversity in the these ministries, RTS was restricted in whom they assisted financially. With this new scholarship, RTS is now able to assist those (like myself) who did not find their way into seminary through any of those ministries! This new scholarship is proactive and kingdom-oriented as it will equip African Americans to serve Jesus in African American, multiethnic, or urban contexts. I'd like to think of this scholarship as one that will allow RTS to move from our corner of the Reformed world to serve the broader Kingdom of the Lord Jesus. May the Lord be praised.”
Carl Ellis, Jr., Senior Research Fellow, RTS African American Leadership Initiative
“The cultural challenges we face today are formidable and increasing – challenges that will require a robust theological response. For economic reasons, African American and other minorities have not had full access to sound formal theological education. The African American Leadership Scholarship will be a significant step in developing Christian leadership in crucial aspects of our society.”
Jemar Tisby, President, Reformed African American Network; Co-host, "Pass the Mic" podcast
“The African American Leadership Scholarship represents a concrete commitment to the value of diverse representation at Reformed Theological Seminary and the church beyond. This resource will enable a new generation of church leaders to gain the theological education necessary to proclaim the excellencies of Christ in a racially and ethnically diverse world. I hope many students take advantage of this generous scholarship.”
Tony Carter, Lead Pastor, East Point Church
“I am excited to see my alma mater moving to fully extend the reach of the African American Leadership Initiative. From its inception AALI has made a difference in the lives of many students in Jackson. Now it will make that difference across all the RTS campuses, including my hometown of Atlanta. I look forward to seeing the fruit of the expansion of this initiative and how God uses those trained through it for his glory and the good of the nations.”
Wy Plummer, African American Ministries Coordinator, Mission to North America (PCA)
“One of the needs in the PCA today is for theologically trained minorities to fill positions of leadership as pastors and church planters. The RTS 50% African American Leadership Scholarship will greatly help in meeting this ever increasing demand.”