Wheaton College Center for Faith & Innovation Receives $300,000 Kern Grant

July 11, 2019

The Wheaton College Center for Faith & Innovation receives a generous Kern Grant to fund an innovation lab and new initiatives dedicated to helping Christians pursue their work out in the marketplace.

Jenks Hall The Kern Family Foundation has awarded Wheaton College’s Center for Faith & Innovation $300,000 in funding for an innovation lab and new initiatives through 2021.

Renamed in March, CFI is an initiative aimed at helping Christians pursue their work in the marketplace as an act of discipleship to Jesus Christ. The grant will enable CFI to carry out several initiatives, allowing the Center to ultimately fulfill its mission of serving as a bridge between the liberal arts classroom and the workplace.

“This is an exciting time for the Center for Faith & Innovation as we pursue the ambitious goal of building a center that meets the needs of organizations by engaging a community of Christian business experts, providing student lead solutions to companies through the innovation lab, and developing cutting edge content through research and events that will equip Christians in business to live out the gospel in the marketplace,” said CFI Director Dr. Hannah Stolze.

With the grant, CFI will launch the first invitation-only Annual Fall Executive Forum in Fall 2019. The forum will engage visionary Christian business leaders who are strategically integrating their faith into the mission and tactics of their organizations. These visionary leaders will have the opportunity to become Charter Members of CFI as they engage with one another other, as well as with Wheaton faculty and students. During the forum, CFI will lead a discussion with experts around the best practices in faith integration driving innovation. Members will also have the opportunity to collaborate with Wheaton faculty and students in generating new innovative ideas and developing content for CFI publications and future training opportunities.

The grant will also help fund an Innovation Lab in 2020, which will be a space for organizations to partner with CFI and Wheaton College students across majors to solve corporate problems. Cross-disciplinary student teams will gain certifications and training in design thinking, project management, and a theology of innovation as they tackle corporate problems and generate innovative solutions. To be located in the CFI Suite in Jenks Hall on the Wheaton College campus, the Innovation Lab will leverage systems thinking central to a liberal arts education and curate students’ ability to learn fast, think holistically, and arrive at innovative, practical solutions for business, ministries, and non-profits.

Finally, the grant will enable CFI to launch the CFI Business Innovation Conference in 2021, which will provide a unique opportunity for continuing training for emerging Christian business leaders and managers as they retool and learn new skill sets to adapt to the fast-changing pace of business today. The goal of the CFI Business Innovation Conference will be to serve the Christian business community through theological inspiration, biblical application, and practical development of business skill sets.

“We are honored by the ongoing support and enthusiasm of the Kern Family Foundation for Wheaton College’s vision to integrate liberal arts learning with a theology of vocation and innovation,” said Wheaton College Dean of Curriculum and Advising Dr. Sarah Miglio. “The Kern Family Foundation’s partnership was essential in the founding of this initiative, and their sponsorship enables us to strengthen and deepen that mission through the new Center for Faith & Innovation’s emphasis on equipping Christians to pursue their marketplace callings as faithful disciples.”

About the Kern Family Foundation

The Kern Family Foundation is a “grant-making organization dedicated to ensuring that the rising generation has access to the opportunities that made their success possible.”