About Us

The Spiritually-Integrated Financial Resiliency (SIFR)™ Initiative at The Iliff School of Theology is a grant-funded program created to develop religious leaders who are equipped to create and sustain financially resilient institutions. Funded through a grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc., SIFR supports "SIFR Scholars," select Master of Divinity (MDIV) students, who participate in an intensive program grounded in Iliff's Authentic Engagement Program™. This program teaches students key financial concepts while reflecting on their personal values and history in a fully supportive culture offered by the school–all designed to reduce the impact of student debt on future clergy and the institutions they serve.

The Initiative

SIFR Scholars become resilient leaders by making a commitment to the requirements of the SIFR Initiative, which include:

  • Completing four SIFR-related courses
    • Self-Care: Theological and Psychological Perspectives
    • Spiritual Framework for Fundraising
    • Authentic Engagement
    • Financial Management
  • Participating in several research assessments during their time as an Iliff student
  • Actively engaging with their cohort and SIFR colleagues


Iliff received a $249,982 grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc. (three-year grant) as part of Lilly's Theological School initiative to Address Economic Issues Facing Future Ministers. Lilly's initiative, administered in cooperation with the Association of Theological Schools Economic Challenges Facing Future Ministers (ECFFM) program, involves 67 schools from across the nation. Within that group of schools, Iliff is one of seven United Methodist seminaries selected to receive funding.

Student Experience

The pilot group of participants was selected from the incoming class of first-year students, as well as continuing students who were not yet within their final 40 credit hours of coursework.

Number of Students in Fall 2014: 19

The Iliff Student Services staff identifies potential participants, who must be:

  • Enrolled in the MDIV Degree program or have already completed a MDIV degree
  • Seriously considering ordination or is already be ordained
  • Willing to complete the educational requirements of the SIFR program
  • Motivated to address personal financial circumstances, beliefs, and practices
  • Willing to make a good faith effort to raise matching scholarship funds
  • Committed to participation in the research component of the initiative, which involves completing periodic assessments

Scholars are encouraged to participate in cohort activities online, face-to-face, and in community with all Iliff students during the school's Gathering Days, a unique time when all students (online, on-campus, hybrid) have the opportunity to learn on campus.


SIFER fosters organizational change by taking various Iliff constituencies–staff, faculty, trustees, and denominational partners–through a two-day Authentic Engagement Program that focuses on the stress of student debt, and the ways in which the organization as a whole can offer support. This process of compassionately exploring individual and organizational values and differences related to student debt will conclude with group development of strategies for putting shared values related to student debt into practice. This process has started within Iliff and will continue to expand to our constituencies during 2015.


We have developed the following resources for those looking for more in-depth information about the SIFR program:

Contact Us

Thank you for your interest in the SIFR program. If you have questions, would like more information on the program, or would like to speak to the program director, please fill out the form below.

Rev. Tom Barlow
Program Director