Wornom Innovation Grant

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Since 2017, the REA’s Herman A. Wornom Award has been directed toward supporting innovation in religious education. The Wornom Innovation Grant is a $3,000 award for innovative religious education projects and initiatives that further knowledge and deepen the practice of religious education, or that expand the field of religious education to a new area that is not traditionally associated with religious education. The annual application deadline is May 1. More details about past recipients are available.

The grant recipient(s) will be offered a breakout session to present their work at the following year’s annual meeting of the REA. If the meeting in conducted virtually, additional funds up to $500 will be provided for any necessary technology arrangements for the recipient(s) to present via an online medium. If the meeting is conducted in-person, additional funds up to $500 will be provided for travel expenses, so that grant recipient(s) can attend.

In 2016 the REA voted to cease presenting the Herman A. Wornom Award to institutions or organizations, and instead to use the funds to support innovation in religious education.


REA Members are eligible to apply for a Wornom Innovation Grant. If you are not currently a member, you may still apply for a grant and the award will include a one-year membership. Proposals may be submitted for entirely new projects, for innovative developments within an existing project, or for bringing practices or insights from a different sector into religious education settings. Initiatives might include educational programs, practice-based research, or related projects. You may submit only one proposal each year, and proposals may be collaborative. The grant is intended as a single-year award and is non-renewable.

Criteria for Selection

The Harper/Wornom Committee will use the following criteria to annually select one winning project or initiative:

  • Innovativeness. How creative is this project or initiative? How significant and new is it for the field of religious education?
  • Practitioner-orientation. Priority will be given to practitioner (as opposed to academic) projects and practitioner projects with a connection to the academy.
  • Honors diversity. How does the project foster forms of religious education that honor and engage elements of diversity (e.g., religious, cultural, sexual, ethnic or racial, and/or ways of knowing that honor multiple learning styles and other diversities)?
  • Contributes to the mission of REA. The mission of the Religious Education Association is to create opportunities for exploring and advancing the interconnected practices of scholarship, research, teaching, and leadership in faith communities, academic institutions, and the wider world community.
  • Contribution to the field of religious education. How is the project significant for the field of religious education? Priority will be given to projects whose results will be shared with practitioners and researchers in a way that contributes to scholarship and knowledge in the field.

Past Recipients

2019: Dr. Elliott Ginsberg

2018: Rabbi Dr. Jeffrey Schein

2017: Dr. Lakisha Lockhart and Callid Keefe-Perry

(More details of their projects are available on the past recipients page.)

Application Process

Applications are accepted through May 1. The announcement of the winning proposal will take place at the REA Annual Meeting in July (applicants are encouraged to be, but are not required to be, present to win). The winning applicant(s) will be asked to submit a brief written report about their project (including financial information) by October 1 of the following year.

The application form requests the following information:

  • Project director, financial contact, and collaborators
  • Project narrative, including how it will address each of the five evaluation criteria. Limit approximately 1,000 words.
  • Budget, including narrative
  • Assessment plan
  • Letter of support (from dean/director/pastoral leader)

During the 2019 Annual Meeting, then Chair of the Harper Wornom committee Dr. Sarah Tauber offered a workshop on design thinking as support for Wornom applications. You can access her powerpoint slides as you prepare your application.