Humanities Institute

Humanities Institute Grants

Call for Proposals: 2021-2022 Community Sabbatical Research Leave Grant

New Call Coming Soon

Amount: $5,000


The Humanities Institute at the University of Texas at Austin is proud to continue the groundbreaking program that supports ongoing research and intellectual work in the Austin non-profit community: The Community Sabbatical Research Leave Program

Many directors and professional staff of non-profit organizations suffer from a lack of time to reflect and develop their expertise in the face of on-going daily demands. This is all the more true in the time of COVID-19. The Community Sabbatical Research Leave Program responds to this dilemma by helping to carve out the time and intellectual space for deeper reflection, research, and discussion about a question or issue that participants are seeking to resolve for their organization and those it serves. In addition to a $5,000 research stipend, the program provides participants with a UT faculty research consultant and access to the University’s libraries, archives, and databases. Organizations we have funded in the past range from educational and youth development organizations, to health and social service organizations, to arts and literacy organizations. 

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. 

Community Sabbatical Research Leave Application Guidelines 

Applicant Qualifications
Applicants for the Community Sabbatical (CS) Research Leave 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 CS grant 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 Sabbatical grant
Projects proposed under the Community Sabbatical 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 Executive Director of the Austin Public Library Friends Foundation was funded to examine the role of the public library in the 21st century as a path towards determining how Austin’s new central library can best serve the community. 

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 Community Sabbatical 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 Sabbatical grantees will be paired with a UT faculty member from a discipline appropriate to the awardee’s research project. We invite (but do not require) grantees 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 grantees. 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 grantee's project.

CS grantees 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 CS grantees. CS librarians will guide grantees in their use of library resources, including connecting grantees with other library staff.

Community Sabbatical Benefits and Responsibilities
Once accepted to the program, Community Sabbatical grantees 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.

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.

Sabbatical Scheduling
The Sabbatical 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 Community Sabbatical Program
Projects that are accepted may begin any time after September 1, 2021 and must be completed by August 31, 2022. The Community Sabbatical 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 sabbatical 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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