Vanguard University has received a $1 million grant to expand its efforts to support thriving Hispanic congregations. The grant was awarded to Vanguard from Lilly Endowment, Inc. in support of the Jesse Miranda Center for Hispanic Leadership program. This is the first and largest private grant the University has received and will focus on congregational needs of the Hispanic community, and the first to be received in partnership with church congregations.

Along with providing excellent academic and ministry training programs for students enrolled in the Master of Arts in Leadership, the goal of the Lilly Endowment will allow Vanguard to increase its ministry efforts to local Hispanic congregations through education, training and community partnerships. The grant funds will be dispersed throughout a five-year period beginning in January 2020 and ending in December 2024. With the funding, Vanguard will expand the vision of the Jesse Miranda Center to create a meaningful and lasting impact by equipping local churches and pastors with the necessary resources, education, guidance and support to better serve their Hispanic neighbors.

“California is one of the most diverse regions in the world and Vanguard’s established Jesse Miranda Center is poised to support Hispanic churches to create and cast a vision toward the future,” said Dr. Michael J. Beals ’81, MA ‘89, president of Vanguard University. “We are so thankful to Lilly Endowment, Inc. for its ongoing support that enables us to increase our ministry efforts to the Hispanic community as we continue to serve Hispanic leaders of tomorrow.”

Lilly Endowment, Inc. is an Indianapolis-based, private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family. The foundation supports causes of community development, education and religion, with special emphasis on projects that benefit young people and strengthen financial self-sufficiency in the charitable sector.

A visionary who passed away in 2019, Dr. Jesse Miranda was the founder of the Jesse Miranda Center for Hispanic Leadership at Vanguard University. In partnership with Vanguard, this leadership institute has continued to build a greater capacity for emerging Latino leadership currently transforming the Orange County community, church and educational platform.

“It was Dr. Miranda’s vision to create opportunities for Hispanic students in Orange County,” said Jon Allbaugh, Dean of Missional Effectiveness at Vanguard University. “God has blessed Vanguard to be part of this initiative that helps Hispanic congregations to thrive through education, community analysis, and ministerial training.”

Vanguard is one of only three Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) in Orange County, a designation given by the US Department of Education (ED), educating and increasing resources for Latinos. Support for these students includes translation services, loan application guidance, programs for academic enrichment, tutorial support and summer undergraduate research programs. The University received a Title V grant from the ED, indicating it is a leading HSI.

Vanguard, the first four-year institution in Orange County that turns 100 this year, continues to make visible moves toward providing a relevant and culturally strong shift in leadership to reflect the diversity of Orange County as a whole. Along with recently appointed Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Pete Menjares ’87 and several faculty and staff members, over 40% of Vanguard’s student body is made up of students from Hispanic backgrounds. Two female pastors from Hispanic backgrounds also joined the University’s spiritual formation department last year.

For more information on the Jesse Miranda Center for Hispanic Leadership, visit

About Vanguard University
Founded in 1920, Vanguard University is a private, Christian, comprehensive university of liberal arts and professional studies that encompasses more than 2,100 students from every region in the country, over 30,000 alumni worldwide, 100 full-time faculty, over 30 undergraduate programs, and six graduate degree programs. A hallmark of a Vanguard education is collaborative scholarship in the arts and sciences which foster the intellectual development, moral maturity and spiritual vitality of its students for the public good. Rooted in a strong academic tradition and commitment to student success, Vanguard University is recognized by the US News & World Report 2020 rankings as a first-tier regional university in the West, a Best College in the West for Veterans and a Best Value School. Vanguard is also among the top five most diverse Christian colleges in the country. In addition, nearly half of its students are the first in their family to attend college. For more information, visit

About Lilly Endowment, Inc.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based, private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly and his sons, Eli and J.K. Jr., through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, the Endowment is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with its founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education, and religion, and it maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana. The Endowment funds programs throughout the United States, especially in the field of religion.

The principal aim of the Endowment’s grantmaking in religion is to deepen and enrich the lives of American Christians, primarily by seeking out and supporting efforts that enhance the vitality of congregations and strengthen the pastoral and lay leadership of Christian communities. The Endowment also seeks to improve public understanding of diverse religious traditions by supporting fair and accurate portrayals of the role religion plays in the United States and across the globe.