The Hilliard Institute

The Hilliard Institute is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation offering sensory education programing, experiential learning, and academic research and publishing while also supporting philanthropic initiatives through fundraising and educational training and activities—all under the umbrella of the concept of Educational Wellness

The Hilliard Institute. 4440 Savage Pointe Drive. Franklin, TN 37064

Email Dr. K. Mark Hilliard at

or Professor Jessa R. Sexton at

The Hilliard Institute Mission:  This sensory education, experiential learning, and philanthropic institute offers unique educational training, workshops, and events to support local, national, and global non-profits, communities, businesses, individuals, schools, and other educational and/or wellness organizations. The Institute seeks not only to assist philanthropic entities with funding, but to teach others about these organizations and, when necessary, train these entities how to become more self-sustaining.

Our current charitable divisions and partnerships are listed below.



charitable divisions

The Starfish Society logo.jpg

A division of The Hilliard Institute, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, The Starfish Society is a group of philanthropic philomaths who help individuals through scholarships and school supplies. The name is inspired by the story of a man who was rescuing starfish who had been stranded ashore by the receding tide. When asked by a passerby, “There are so many. Why bother? What does it matter?” he tossed a starfish back into the water and replied, “It matters to him.”

The Starfish Society exists as an avenue to discover and address individual needs, specifically those that may not be discerned by large philanthropic organizations who sometimes have large overhead costs. When you join the Starfish Society, 100 % of your membership fee will be used to help make a difference in a person’s life.  No administrative fees come out of your donation, and most contributions are tax deductible. 

The students receiving Starfish Society scholarships use their talents, knowledge, and skills to give back to others in need, in some way, in connection with The Hilliard Institute. In this action, they exercise the academic principle of teaching and learning with a higher purpose. 

We offer two membership levels: Professor and Chancellor.

Professor membership includes an invitation to ours annual tea with Dr. Woodfine, former butler and High Steward at the University of Oxford. Chancellor membership includes both the an invitation to the tea and a gift made by a scholarship recipient.

Contact a member of The Hilliard Institute to join today, or click here to pay online.

Dr. K. Mark Hilliard      

Jessa R. Sexton

Ronald Reagan said, “We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by the vastness of needs surrounding us. But for each person, each family, we take the time to help, we can make a difference that can last a lifetime, or even beyond. 

live the blessing w animals.jpg

Live the Blessing is the name given to the division of The Hilliard Institute that raises funds for and awareness of charitable organizations.  This project is based on the concept that God has given us much so that we can do much for others. The responsibility of knowing the Truth is living it and not just talking about it (James 1:17-23). When we live the blessing, our kindness brings praise, glory, and thanksgiving to our Heavenly Father (2 Corinthians 9:8-12). 

Live the Blessing has an Etsy shop. Founder Jessa R. Sexton also wrote a children’s book with illustrations donated by ten different artists, available on the Etsy site and here. A portion of Etsy craft sales and 100% of the profits from the book go towards the current Live the Blessing charitable campaign. 




paNASH teaches career and job search skills to a variety of clients in need of such skills to find sustainable employment. Funds donated to the paNASH division of The Hilliard Institute will cover the cost of paNASH’s career and job search instruction for unemployed and underemployed yet qualified workers participating in professional development programs offered by a variety of Nashville-based non-profit organizations. Click here to donate online. Click on the logo to be directed to the paNASH website.


non-profit partnerships

The Cherokee Missions program is a partnership between The Hilliard Institute and the Cherokee Church of Christ on the Cherokee Indian Reservation, Cherokee, N.C.  This Indian church (The Cherokee refer to themselves as Indian, rather than Native American.) was started in the 1940s, and in 1998 Dr. Hilliard lived and worked on the reservation while conducting research for his doctoral dissertation on teaching and learning styles of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee. Dr. Hilliard’s interest in this culture and this church began as a youth when his father led mission work there.

Cherokee Missions includes both educational and philanthropic activities.  Spiritual and mental wellness workshops are offered at the Cherokee Church, and a yearly one-week cultural travel course takes place on the reservation and at various locations within the Smokey Mountain National Park.  This course offers a study of nature, the Cherokee Nation, and spiritual wellness as it relates to finding meaning and purpose in life. 

The Hilliard Institute also raises all the financial support for a full-time ministerial couple, who live and work on the reservation.  And yearly campaigns are held when necessary to collect items of particular need such as children’s diapers, health and hygiene products, and non-perishable food items, etc. 


DAR, simply put, is to give. In today’s connected world, we are all part of a global network, moving forward into a more unified and prosperous future. We Are DAR has been organized to educate and empower the women living and working in countries of extreme need.

Their mission is to incorporate micro-economic teaching efforts with selected charity organizations, installing the tools necessary to strengthen communities and enhance the integrity of the women working within them. Their goal is to facilitate long-term development, as opposed to short-term relief—planting roots for change. 

The Hilliard Institute worked with We Are DAR to educate others about the program and raise funds to support the salaries of the aDARable projects so that the program could begin self-sustaining.

Click on the image to be directed to their website. 

The Red Road exists to educate students and communities on the history and condition of Native American culture and to provide hope by empowering and ministering within Native American Communities. Their desire is to provide Native American people with hope and a future by challenging each other to live with traditional values, thus honoring their cultures and those who died that they might continue to have them. 

The Hilliard Institute partnered with The Red Road in March of 2014 to host a men's event. Profits from this event were shared between this ministry and the Cherokee Missions.

Click on their logo to be directed to their website. 


IHCF (International Health Care Foundation): African Christian Hospitals is the supporting / facilitating organization for seven medical mission points in Africa. For several years they have been involved with five works in West Africa, including three projects in Nigeria, and two in Ghana. Very recently, they have become involved in East Africa with two partnerships in Tanzania, including their newest clinic, right on the Indian Ocean.

The Hilliard Institute raised funds for new blood pressure kits and otoscopes for each of the seven hospitals and clinics of IHCF: African Christian Hospitals.

Click on their logo to be directed to their website. 


What started out as a marketing class final project at Lipscomb University in 1991 has turned into successful non-profit that works with clean water projects, food sustainability, education, disaster recovery, medical aid, and more. 

Healing Hands International recognizes the value of every life and contribution that each person can make to mankind. Their goal is to empower individuals to improve the quality of life for their families and communities. 

Throughout 2015, The Hilliard Institute raised awareness about HHI's programs and fundraised to build a well for a village in need. Click here to read the story.

Click on their logo to be directed to their website.