Humanities Institute

Humanities Institute Grants

Call for Proposals: 2019 Community Sabbatical Research Leave Grant

Deadline: Thursday, November 1, 2018

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 organization suffer from a lack of time to reflect and develop their expertise in the face of on-going daily demands. The Community Sabbatical Research Leave Program responds to this dilemma by carving 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. It also provides participants with a UT faculty research partner and access to the University’s libraries and archives.

Community Sabbatical awardees will receive a $5,000 stipend and will be matched with a University faculty member with related interests who will collaborate with the awardee on the proposed project. Awardees’ biographies and project descriptions will be posted on the Humanities Institute’s website.

Upon completion of the sabbatical, awardees 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. Awardees will also give a public 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.


For more information, please see the attached information and application packet, email Kathryn North at, or call the Humanities Institute Office at 512-471-9056 during regular business hours.

Community Sabbatical Research Leave Grant Application Guidelines

About the Applicants

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 2019 calendar year. Research hours must be documented. Applicants must obtain and submit with their application a leave-time approval form (download link above) signed by the organization’s Executive Director or Board Chair.

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.

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. Proposals will be evaluated according to (i) the viability of the proposed project, (ii) demonstrated scope and impact, and (iii) compatibility with UT faculty expertise.

Consider the following examples:

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 what role traditional music recordings have had in helping to nurture and sustain localized cultural production and the regional music of Texas.

A Senior Writer and Producer for The Telling Project was supported to examine the impact of theatrical storytelling on the veterans and audiences who participate in his organization's performances.

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 Director of International Research and Development for Migrant Clinicians Network was supported to explore the economic benefits of her organization’s work, finding that 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 awardees 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 awardees will be paired with a UT faculty member from a discipline appropriate to the awardee’s community 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. Faculty research partners are expected to meet and communicate regularly with the awardees. Faculty research partner responsibilities may include recommending readings, databases, and other materials, reviewing and commenting on the awardee’s project at various phases, recommending other campus contacts and relevant conferences, and generally serving as a liaison to scholarly resources relevant to the awardee's project.

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

Community Sabbatical Benefits

Once accepted to the program, Community Sabbatical awardees 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 partner.
  • a UT EID, providing access to library materials and databases.
  • an orientation to the university, highlighting resources relevant to the awardee’s interests.
  • a listing on the Humanities Institute website.

Community Sabbatical awardees will be responsible for:

  • proposing and maintaining a viable research plan.
  • completing all necessary documents for payment.
  • communicating regularly with faculty research partners 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.
  • producing a brief interim report and a final report upon completion of the sabbatical term.
  • completing the sabbatical within the scheduled calendar year.

Sabbatical Scheduling

The Sabbatical requires a 160-hour time commitment. This can be organized flexibly based on the demands of the organization and on 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 of the detailed work plan
  • $2,000 upon completion of the interim report
  • $1,000 upon completion of the final report

Applying to the Sabbatical Program

The deadline to submit Community Sabbatical applications for 2019 is November 1, 2018. Projects that are accepted may begin any time after January 1, 2019 and must be completed by December 31, 2019. 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 their organization and its constituents.

Please email (1) the completed application packet, (2) the signed Project and Leave Time approval form, (3) a current résumé or CV, (4) a copy of the organization’s IRS determination letter, and (5) the 501(c)(3)’s organizational chart to Alternatively, you may mail the application to:

Community Sabbatical Research Leave Program
Humanities Institute
The University of Texas at Austin
HRC Suite 3.356, Mail F1900
P.O. Box 7219
Austin, TX 78713-7219