Humanities Institute

Humanities Institute and Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis Community Fellows Program

Call For Apps

Deadline: October 1, 2021

Amount: $5,000


The Humanities Institute is proud to expand our groundbreaking program that supports community-based research and intellectual work in the Austin non-profit community. Formerly called the Community Sabbatical Research Grant, the program is now called the HI and IUPRA Community Fellows program in recognition of our new partnership with The Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis (IUPRA). 

In our new partnership with IUPRA, the Fellows program will include two tracks: As in the past, the Humanities Institute Community Fellows program addresses a problem that many directors and professional staff of non-profit organizations confront: a lack of time to reflect on broad, long-term issues in the face of on-going daily demands. The program responds to this dilemma by helping non-profit leaders carve out time and intellectual space for reflection, collaborative research, and community discussion about a question or issue that Fellows are seeking to resolve for their organization and those it serves. HI Community Fellowships have been granted to leaders of organizations devoted to arts and literacy, education and youth development, and health and social services.  

The IUPRA Community Fellows program focuses on applying an equity lens to research and policy. The fellowship is designed to support individuals as they refine their skills, capabilities, and perspectives to study inequity.  Fellows will collaborate with a UT faculty member to pursue a project designed to affect social and economic equity outcomes for their organization via policy.

All Community Fellows are matched with a University faculty member with related interests who provides assistance on the Fellow’s project. Fellows also receive a $5000 fellowship and access to UT libraries and databases. 

Grantees’ biographies and project descriptions will be posted on the Humanities Institute’s website. Upon completion of the sabbatical, grantees are asked to submit a short report to their organization and the Humanities Institute. The report will reflect knowledge gained, the extent to which goals identified in the sabbatical application have been met, and plans or prospects for implementation. Grantees will also give a public roundtable presentation on the results of their research.

Community Sabbatical awardees must be paid, full-time Executive Directors or professional staff members of nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organizations in the Austin area. The attached application includes a letter of support that must be signed by the Director or Chair of the Board of the applicant’s organization. (Applicants may not sign on their own behalf.) Documentation of 501(c)(3) status is also required. 

HI and IUPRA Community Fellows Application Guidelines 

Applicant Qualifications
Applicants for the Community Fellows Program must be full-time employees of a 501(c)(3) organization operating in Central Texas. We do not accept applications from consultants contracted with 501(c)(3)’s or from staff in non-501(c)(3) organizations. 

The Community Fellows award provides paid flexible leave to directors and staff members of Central Texas nonprofit organizations. Research takes place over the course of 160 hours during the 2020-2021 academic / fiscal year. Research hours must be documented. Applicants must obtain and submit with their application a leave-time approval form (attached) signed by the organization’s Executive Director or Board Chair.

Determining if a project is appropriate for a Community Fellowship
Projects proposed under the Community Fellows program must address a clearly defined research question or problem related to the applicants’ organization or constituency. The work should go beyond the applicant’s day-to-day responsibilities. Proposals will be evaluated according to (i) the viability of the proposed project, (ii) demonstrated scope and impact, (iii) need for research to meet the applicant’s objectives, and (iv) compatibility with UT faculty expertise. 

Consider the following examples: 

The Founder and Executive Director of Texas Fair Defense Project (TFDP) was funded to research and develop a model for providing holistic criminal defense representation in Texas. Her model considered the circumstances that drive indigents into the criminal justice system and ways to offer them social support and advocacy.

The Operations and Development Director of Texas Folklife was funded to investigate best practices for preserving and circulating traditional Texas music. His research sought to address the role traditional music recordings have had in helping to nurture and sustain localized cultural production and the regional music of Texas.

The Director of International Research and Development for Migrant Clinicians Network was supported to explore the economic benefits of her organization’s work; she found that her organization’s efforts to ensure adequate healthcare through effective case management, data transfer and preventative treatment was cost-beneficial to hospitals and insurance companies.

Prospective applicants are encouraged to visit our HI and IUPRA Community Fellows webpage to view further information on the research projects that have been previously funded through a CS grant. Applicants with questions about their eligibility or proposed project are invited to contact the Humanities Institute prior to the submission deadline. 

Use of Funds
The primary purpose of the stipend is to compensate grantees for leave time taken from their ordinary duties. With the permission of the organization’s Executive Director or Board Chair and the Director of the Humanities Institute, a portion of the grant funds may be used for necessary travel, equipment, and supplies. 

Faculty Research Partners and Library Liaisons
Community Fellows awardees will be paired with a UT faculty member from a discipline appropriate to the awardee’s research project. We invite (but do not require) awardees to identify faculty members with whom they are particularly interested in working, or to identify any departments with whose faculty they would like to work. Once the grant is awarded, faculty research consultants are expected to meet and communicate regularly with the awardees. Faculty consultants’ responsibilities may include recommending readings, databases, and other materials; reviewing and commenting on the grantee’s project at various phases; recommending other campus contacts and relevant conferences; and generally serving as a liaison to scholarly resources and opportunities relevant to the awardee's project.

Community Fellows will also be invited to consult with librarians on staff at the Perry Castañeda Library. The Humanities Institute will identify librarian liaisons to act as the primary library contact for Community Fellows. Community Fellows librarians will guide awardees in their use of library resources, including connecting awardees with other library staff.

HI and IUPRA Community Fellows Benefits and Responsibilities
Once accepted to the program, Community Fellows will receive:

  • a stipend of $5,000 (paid in 3 installments) to support 160 hours of research activity.
  • an assignment to a UT faculty research consultant.
  • a UT EID, providing access to library materials and databases for the period of the grant.
  • an orientation to the university, highlighting resources relevant to the grantee’s interests.
  • a listing on the Humanities Institute website.
  • IUPRA Community Fellows will be given space in the IUPRA offices.

Community Sabbatical grantees will be responsible for:

  • proposing and maintaining a viable research plan.
  • completing all necessary documents for payment.
  • communicating regularly with faculty research consultants about the sabbatical project.
  • participating in two grantee meetings (at the beginning and end of the project) in order to discuss the research process and share research findings.
  • producing a brief midterm report and a final report upon completion of the sabbatical term.
  • completing the sabbatical within the scheduled timeframe.

Community Fellows Scheduling
The Fellowship requires a 160-hour time commitment. This can be organized flexibly based on the demands of the organization and the nature of the sabbatical project. In developing your proposal, please consider carefully what will work best for you and your organization. To aid you in prioritizing the time spent on your sabbatical project, we offer models that have been successful in the past:

  • A one-month intensive sabbatical, with four continuous weeks dedicated to the project.
  • One week a month spread over four months.
  • One 8-hour day per week for twenty weeks.
  • One half-day per week for forty weeks.

The Executive Director or Chair of the Board of your organization must approve your application and your proposed timetable.

Payment and Deliverable Schedule
The award of $5,000 will be dispersed in 3 payments after submission and approval of the following deliverables:

  • $2,000 upon completion and approval of the detailed work plan
  • $2,000 upon completion and approval of the midterm report
  • $1,000 upon completion of the final report and roundtable presentation

Applying to the HI and IUPRA Community Fellows Program
Projects that are accepted may begin any time after October 1, 2021 and must be completed by August 31, 2022. The Community Fellows Advisory Council will review applications and will select finalists based on the written application materials. Final selections will be determined by personal interviews and by the availability of a suitable faculty match for the proposed project. In addition to project viability, applications will be evaluated for demonstrated scope and impact. Successfully completed applications will identify a clearly defined question or issue that participants will pursue during the course of the fellowship and will explain how that question or issue goes beyond the applicant’s ordinary duties and is relevant to the applicant’s organization and its constituents.

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