A burgeoning partnership between Calvin College and parachurch organization Young Life has been formalized and is expected to yield benefits for each organization and, more importantly, for young men and women growing in their faith.

Among the new opportunities being made available via the partnership will be a special Young Life Leadership Scholarship program, which will offer $1,000 scholarships to high school students who have participated in a Young Life summer camp work crew or the Young Life Student Leadership Project. 

Additionally, Young Life will offer the services of area director Eric Kuiper to Calvin to support student activities and leadership development, to assist in exposing high school students to the opportunities for and the benefits of Christian higher education, and to participate in research with the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship on the relationship of church and parachurch organizations. 

In return, Calvin will provide Young Life with access to facilities and services on the Knollcrest campus and with opportunities for involvement in selected campus programs. In June, the partnership will take another significant step when the Knollcrest campus hosts the Young Life Student Leadership Project. That leadership project is a 10-day event that will bring approximately 30 Young Life students, rising high school seniors, to Calvin for the first time, according to Rick Zomer, director of campus visits and hospitality.

“The project is a great opportunity for high school students,” said Zomer. “It has three basic components: discipleship, service learning and faith formation. The Young Life instructors and students will stay in the dorms, eat meals together in the dining halls, have access to all of Calvin’s facilities and, most importantly, learn a lot about themselves, about others and about their faith.”

The project’s goals include:

• giving students a basic foundation in theology and helping them think and process life Christianly and theologically.

• helping students appreciate the various expressions of diversity of gender, race, denominations and geography present in the group.

• helping students understand their own church, family and values and to process those within the context of popular culture and biblical perspectives.

• providing an understanding of the core values of a lifelong commitment to Christ.

• exposing students to diverse ways that Christians live out their commitment to Christ.

The Student Leadership Project, added Zomer, has seen around 250 young people participate during the past decade since it was established in 2000 by Young Life and Fuller Theological Seminary thanks to a grant from the Lilly Foundation.

Calvin College and Young Life will continue to seek opportunities to work together in the years ahead. “This is a natural partnership of like-minded organizations which are invested in the spiritual growth of young people,” said Chris Theule-VanDam, director of the western Great Lakes region of Young Life. “So many Calvin students and alumni have been active in Young Life for so many years, it is a pleasure to see this formally recognized.”