Julie L. Rogers Sabbatical Program
Launched in 2014 in honor of our outgoing president, the Julie L. Rogers Sabbatical Program aims to replenish the stores of energy and inspiration for our community’s visionary leaders. Julie Rogers was a tireless champion for nonprofit leaders and a passionate advocate for promoting their personal well-being. This program pays tribute to that legacy, as well as Julie’s years of service to the Foundation and the community.
The Value of Sabbatical
Sabbatical grant support is a documented, effective strategy for supporting executive directors and strengthening the organizations they lead. “Creative Disruption”—a study conducted by Third Sector New England and CompassPoint—found that the demands of leadership make intellectual, emotional, creative, and physical burnout all too common among nonprofit executives. Meyer’s sabbatical program, which was heavily influenced by the Durfee Foundation and O2 Initiatives, is designed to recognize and support effective executives who may be in danger of burnout.
Sabbaticals also provide an opportunity to strengthen the capacity of other leaders within an organization, increasing the likelihood of successful transitions when long-serving executives decide to move on.
About the Program
Each year, the Meyer Foundation grants up to three sabbatical awards to outstanding executive directors. The $50,000 award includes up to $30,000 to support the costs of a three- to four-month sabbatical for the organization’s executive director—costs include the executive’s salary and benefits for the duration of the sabbatical, and funds that will allow the recipients to travel, reflect, or otherwise renew themselves in whatever manner they propose. The sabbatical award also supports professional development for other leaders within the organization (up to $15,000), and a stipend to compensate the interim leader or leadership team (up to $10,000).
Applicants for the sabbatical program must meet the following criteria to apply:
- The executive director’s organization must be a current grantee of the Meyer Foundation, which means it must have received a program or operating support grant any time after January 2015.
- Applicants must be currently serving in an executive director role, and have served at least seven consecutive years as executive director in the same organization.
- Applicants must lead organizations with annual operating budgets of $750,000 or more.
Local leaders of national organizations are eligible to apply for a sabbatical as long as the leader and the organization meet the other eligibility requirements and their work is primarily focused on the Washington, DC region.
Please Note: Receipt of a grant under the Children and Family Capacity-Building Initiative or Management Assistance Program does not confer eligibility for the sabbatical program.
Application and Selection Process
The application deadline for the next round of sabbatical grants is June 30, 2017. Sabbatical recipients will be announced in September 2017.
Sabbatical applications, which are submitted online, should include:
- Basic information about the organization, applicant, board chair
- Two-page personal statement from the executive director
- Resume of the executive director
- Letter of support from the board chair
- Preliminary interim management plan
- Most current operating budget
- Most recent audited financial statements
- List of board members
- Proposed sabbatical spending plan
Two-page personal statement from the executive director
Recipients are required to take their sabbatical within one year of the announcement. The personal statement should include an estimate of the desired sabbatical start date and answer the following questions:
- Why are you applying for a sabbatical?
- How do you envision spending the sabbatical period? (Possible activities include, but are not limited to travel, artistic or creative pursuits, extended time with family, adopting a new hobby or deepening involvement in a current hobby, non-career related volunteer work.)
- How do you think a sabbatical will enhance your personal well-being and benefit you as a leader?
- What impact do you think your three- to four-month absence during the sabbatical period will have on your organization?
Letter of support from the board chair
The letter should include:
- A guarantee that the organization will maintain the executive director’s full salary and benefits during the sabbatical period
- A guarantee that the executive director will be free to completely step away from the organization during the three- to four-months of sabbatical
- Approval of the preliminary interim management plan (see below)
Preliminary interim management plan
Awardees of the sabbatical program are asked to select an existing staff member to be the interim executive director, or select several staff members to form an interim leadership team. Doing so creates opportunities for other staff to benefit from the sabbatical award—to stretch into new leadership roles and responsibilities, gain new skills and, for some, test whether they’d like to become an executive director.
The interim management plan should:
- Identify an interim executive director or interim leadership team.
- Outline how current responsibilities of the interim executive director or interim leadership team will be handled during the sabbatical period, addressing how the interim leader or leadership team will fulfill all or part of these responsibilities in addition to the responsibilities of the executive director.
- Describe any previous instances where the executive director was away from his or her job for extended periods of time (e.g. vacations of more than two weeks, family or maternity leave, etc.) and how the organization managed in his or her absence.
Selection of grantees will be made by an external panel composed of leaders in the community, with support from Meyer staff. Selection criteria include:
- A track record of outstanding professional accomplishments within the local nonprofit community
- Evidence of need for the sabbatical
- Potential for the individual’s future contributions to the field
- Potential for benefit of the sabbatical to the organization
- A quality plan for interim management that ensures sustainability of the organization during the recipient’s time away
To learn more about the sabbatical program, please contact Maegan Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org.