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O2 Sabbatical Award

Grants to Bay Area, California Nonprofits and
their Executive Directors for Paid Sabbatical Leave

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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O2 Initiatives

Deadline Date:

08/22/18 5:00 PM Receipt


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Grants of $50,500 to California nonprofits and their executive directors in San Francisco, Contra Costa, and Alameda Counties to support a three-month paid leave. Funding is intended to give nonprofit leaders an opportunity to rejuvenate and develop professionally.

The O2 Sabbatical Award breathes new life into an organization by:
1) Revitalizing Executive Directors - The stresses and demands of nonprofit leadership can take a toll on even the most energetic of executive directors. Intellectual, creative, emotional, and physical burnout pose a risk to the health of these individuals and the organizations they lead. A sabbatical rejuvenates these individuals so they may return to their organizations with renewed vigor and perspective. As a result, their organizations benefit from more innovative, effective, and sustainable leadership.
2) Strengthening leadership capacity throughout the organization - Sabbaticals provide senior staff with an unparalleled opportunity to take on new responsibilities and learn new skills in the executive director’s absence, which ultimately creates a more robust organization. Executive directors often delegate greater authority to their senior teams upon returning from sabbaticals, thereby fostering shared leadership and deeper organizational commitment. Enhanced leadership capacity also extends to governance, as the sabbatical process presents a chance for unique planning and learning that cultivates more effective boards.
3) Creating a mutually supportive alumni network - O2 Sabbatical Award recipients become part of the O2 Initiatives alumni network, a long-lasting peer group of outstanding leaders collectively strengthening the sector through dialogue, collaboration, and mutual support.

Each award includes $40,000 to the awardee’s organization toward the cost of a three-month sabbatical, plus a $3,000 stipend for the interim leader (or leadership team) in recognition of the additional responsibilities assumed in the executive director’s absence.

O2 Initiatives also offers coaching in partnership with CompassPoint to help organizations prepare for the sabbatical, assist interim teams during the executive director’s leave, and provide support with re-entry and organizational learning once sabbaticals are completed.

In addition, awardees are invited to request up to $7,500 to support ongoing professional development within their organizations. This component of the grant is intended to provide each organization with seed funding to establish a Staff Professional Development Fund that they will continue to maintain as an ongoing line item in their budget.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 170904

Number of Grants:

Each year, O2 Initiatives will grant up to six awards to outstanding executive directors.

Estimated Size of Grant:

Each award totals up to $50,500 and is comprised of $40,000 to the awardee’s organization toward the cost of the three-month sabbatical, $3,000 for interim leadership, and $7,500 for ongoing professional development.

Term of Contract:

Awardees are required to begin their sabbatical within twelve months of the award notification date.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Candidates should:
-Be a nonprofit executive director with a proven track record of outstanding leadership
-Have served in their current executive director role for at least five years (at the time of application submission)
-Have worked for at least 10 years in the nonprofit sector (though not necessarily at the same organization) without significant leave, and intend to remain in the sector for the foreseeable future
-Be employed full-time at their organization
-Be a full-time resident of the Bay Area
-Be recognized by peers as an exceptional leader

The candidate’s employing organization should:
-Be a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization (government agencies and schools are not eligible)
-Be headquartered in San Francisco, Alameda County, or Contra Costa County specifically
-Be recognized by its community for the quality of its programs
-Have at least five full-time, paid employees including the executive director candidate
-Recognize the candidate’s sabbatical as an opportunity to develop the organization’s leadership capacity
-Offer its endorsement of the request for leave, and submit a work plan for organizational management during the candidate’s sabbatical
-Be able to sustain regular operations during the executive director’s absence
-Demonstrate need for financial assistance to underwrite the executive director’s leave

The program is not open to applicants working at schools or in government.

Pre-Application Information:

Applications must be received by 5:00 pm on Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Application Period Opens: June 20, 2018
Application Submission Deadline: August 22, 2018
Notification of Application Status: By November 30, 2018
Finalist Site Visits: January 14-17, 2019
Finalists Interview: January 22-23 2019
Announcement of Awards: Early-February 2019
Mandatory Orientation for Awardees: Late-February 2019
Sabbatical Start Date: By February 1, 2020

Program goals:

Eligibility and Requirements:


Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Register to download application components:

Please submit your application materials electronically in pdf format to with “[Your Last Name]-Sabbatical” in the subject line.

Emily Cohen Raskin

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: California: San Francisco, Alameda, and Contra Costa Counties