History and Mission
"If you will just try, you can do what you set out to do."
~Mrs. Elva Sears Jones, Co-Founder, The Jones Foundation (1923-2009)
The Reid S., Elva S., and Dr. Sonya L. Jones Educational Foundation, Inc., was founded by Mrs. Jones and Dr. Jones in August 2005 following the death of Mr. Jones in April of the same year.
True to its history and mission, The Jones Foundation has garnered a reputation for assisting the people of south central Kentucky with educational and spiritual goals. The Foundation tends to reward people who make an extra effort and perform their tasks with enthusiasm.
The Foundation has offered a variety of scholarships dating back to 2006 (see Scholarships links). For three years, the Foundation sponsored the Jones Scholars Program which currently is being assessed for effectiveness. In 2013, the Foundation launched the Reid S. and Elva S. Jones Scholarships for Exemplary Work Ethic.
Lead by Dr. Sonya Jones, who serves as chairperson and chief executive officer, The Jones Educational Foundation also oversees the activities and operations of Slate Branch Ashram located in the beautiful Lake Cumberland Valley of Kentucky.
Following in the footsteps of her family, Dr. Jones values the learning process—intellectually, spiritually, and in practical terms. After doctoral studies at Emory University, she rose through the ranks to senior professor at Allegheny College from which she took early retirement in the year 2000 to return to her native Kentucky. From 2004-2015, she taught comparative world religions and directed travel seminars to India for the Honors Program at the University of Kentucky. In 2013, following ordination by The Interfaith Temple of New York City, Dr. Jones aka Swami Shraddhananda joined the Faculty of The New Seminary as Professor of World Religions, and later, Dean of Graduate Studies. After 33 years of teaching in college, university, and seminary settings, Sw. Shraddhananda retired in 2015 to focus on spiritual teaching, publishing, and writing.
In November 2012, Dr. Jones was inducted into the Saraswati Order of Meditation Masters and Monastics. In the sacred village of Ganeshpuri, India, she was given the name Swami Shraddhananda, which means “the bliss of faith.” As Swami Shraddhanana, she serves as Spiritual Director of Slate Branch Ashram, home of Adishraddha (Sacred Feet) Yoga as well as Preceptor and Lineage Holder for The Community of The Mystic Heart, an Interspiritual Order of Monastics which traces its lineage to Fr. Bede Griffiths.
Much as she focused on interdisciplinary education for three decades in the college classroom, Dr. Jones aka Swami Shraddhananda brings an expansive Interfaith approach to the retreats and programs she directs at Slate Branch Ashram as well as to academic and seminary settings and publishing. She is in the process of helping to pioneer the discipline of Interfaith Studies within the larger context of Religious Studies.
"I don't know how to say this, but there is something so peaceful about Swami Shraddhananda and Slate Branch Ashram," a spiritual seeker said.