Park bench in Alamosa, Colorado.

Nonprofit Sabbatical Program

Successfully leading a nonprofit in today’s world takes endless dedication and time. Nonprofit leaders are often so committed to their missions that spending time away to re-energize can be an afterthought. In 2019, the Foundation developed a new nonprofit sabbatical program, now open for applications through March 31, 2020, to recognize and reward long-term and respected nonprofit leaders in Colorado and strengthen the organizations they lead by offering funds for interim leadership and staff capacity building.

This program is designed to offer nonprofit executives the opportunity to step away from professional responsibilities and take time for themselves for rejuvenation. Ideally, the executive returns to their professional life with new ideas and a fresh sense of commitment to their work, the nonprofit sector as well as the health and health equity of all Coloradans.

The Foundation will award two sabbaticals annually. Each sabbatical must be taken within 18 months of receipt of the award. The Foundation has engaged a technical assistance (TA) provider, Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF), to provide support to both interested applicants and awarded recipients. For questions about the program or application process, please contact Brian Kellaway, NFF associate director, by email or by phone at 617- 204-9772 ext. 303. We recommend that the nonprofit organization and its executive seek professional tax advice separately prior to applying for this grant.

Watch our live webinar and Q&A here to learn more.

The sabbatical award is made in the form of a grant – up to $95,000 – for charitable support to a Colorado-based nonprofit organization and includes:

  1. Grantee executive to take three-to-four month hiatus for activities of their choice to reflect, rest and rejuvenate:
    • Up to $20,000 for sabbatical activities (e.g., professional development; travel; personal activities)
    • Between $25,000-$50,000 subsidy for salary and benefits (dependent on current salary)
  2. Grantee interim leadership needs (individual or a team):
    • Up to $10,000 dependent on the applicant’s interim plan and mutual agreement
  3. Grantee staff capacity building needs
    • Up to $15,000 to be used during the sabbatical period or up to two years after receipt of the award
    • Organizations will need to demonstrate how staff have been involved in determining use of these funds to ensure that they are used for employee-directed needs

Applications must meet the following eligibility criteria:

Applicants must:

  • Be a Colorado-based executive director, CEO or tribal administrator of a nonprofit organization working to bring health and health equity in reach for Coloradans
  • Be an outstanding and respected leader with a demonstrated record of community contribution
  • Have served at least five years in current executive role
  • Have at least seven years’ experience in an executive leadership role within the nonprofit sector
  • Be a full-time employee and resident of Colorado
  • Demonstrate commitment to remaining in current position at current organization for at least three years upon return from sabbatical
  • Have organization’s board approval
  • Present a sustainable interim leadership and operations plan for the applicant’s organization
  • Have at least five full-time employees on staff at the organization
  • Be willing to serve a one-month executive-in-residence placement at The Colorado Health Foundation
  • Be willing to participate in program alumni activities

Organization must:

  • Be located in Colorado and provide services and/or programs that bring health and health equity in reach for Coloradans
  • Operate as a public charity, and not a private foundation, under Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(3)
  • Guarantee maintenance and sustainability of regular operations during the applicant’s absence
  • Demonstrate need for organizational financial assistance during an applicant’s absence.
  • Demonstrate need for and commitment to supporting organizational, employee-driven capacity building that will strengthen the organization’s ability to meet its mission
  • Guarantee regular health and other benefits to applicant during nominee absence

Once awarded, sabbatical participants must comply with the following program expectations:

  • Three-to-four months consecutive, uninterrupted leave
  • No return visits for meetings or events
  • No phone or email engagement
  • No work-related activities (outside of any professional development you wish to engage in during the sabbatical)
  • Sabbatical must be taken within 18 months of receipt
  • Disengage from professional activities (e.g., volunteer boards, committees)
  • One-month executive-in-residence at The Colorado Health Foundation (details of which to be determined by grantee and the Foundation)

Awarded recipients are expected to engage in key program activities, including the following:

  • Pre-Sabbatical Orientation: The Foundation will host an orientation meeting either in Denver or offsite depending on where recipients reside. The meeting can be attended by the executive taking sabbatical, interim leadership and Board members, if needed.
  • Executive-in-Residence: The Foundation will work exclusively with the grantee post-award to determine an approach for this month-long period that is an opportunity for co-learning and is mutually beneficial to both the recipient and the Foundation. It is expected that the grantee will reside in Denver during this time period.
  • Post-Sabbatical: After six weeks, the Foundation requires a short, informal report and debrief meeting about the grantee’s experience during sabbatical.

The program includes a TA provider to support both interested applicants and awarded recipients through their experience with this program. The TA provider will:

  • Advise applicants and their organizations to develop a strong application
  • Advise and support orientation for sabbatical recipients
  • Advise and support exit and re-entry for sabbatical recipients
  • Advise and support interim leadership during sabbatical period

The Foundation is now accepting applications for the nonprofit sabbatical program through March 31, 2020. For questions, contact Brian Kellaway, NFF associate director, at 617- 204-9772 ext. 303.

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