What is an example of a Stanton Fellowship project?
Stanton Fellowship projects will vary, depending on the subject area on which they are focused, so there is no one model. However, the Stanton program presumes that the project will be substantially different from the day-to-day work of the applicant’s organization, and that the goal of the project is to advance the needs of the field, rather than the needs solely of the applicant’s organization. Strategic planning for your organization, evaluations of existing programs or supporting the launch of a pilot program that has already been designed are not appropriate activities for a Stanton proposal.
See Sample Plans and Budgets for a snapshot of a hypothetical Stanton proposal. You can also find summaries of completed Stanton Fellowships under the biographies of former Stanton Fellows.
Do I have to work at a nonprofit to be a Stanton Fellow?
Stanton Fellowships are not limited to applicants from the nonprofit sector, and past Stanton Fellows have come from government and social enterprise in addition to nonprofits. One of the purposes of the program is to cross-pollinate ideas and approaches from different arenas.
Why aren’t applicants who work in post-secondary education eligible?
The purpose of the Stanton Fellowship is to provide time for research, travel and thinking to leaders who do not usually have the opportunity to pursue these activities because they are immersed in the day-to-day operations of their agencies. There are very few opportunities for leaders in the non-academic sectors to obtain grants to think deeply about the issues they work on.
Are only Executive Directors eligible?
We are looking for thought leaders in a variety of public benefit fields; titles are not as important as an applicant’s standing and ideas. Ultimately, we are looking for those individuals who are best positioned to tackle a problem, based on their expert knowledge, collegial networks and sphere of influence.
I work part-time for one organization, and am a volunteer board member at another. Can I apply?
The Stanton Fellowship is limited to full-time staff at eligible organizations. The reason for this is that the fellowship was designed to provide time for deep thought to prominent leaders who are otherwise burdened by overseeing the operations of their agencies.
Why do you set a minimum of three full-time staff at the sponsoring organization? Why does organizational size matter?
Stanton Fellowships are designed for leaders representing organizations that provide a voice and a platform in their field. There are small organizations that have outsized impact, and we encourage their leaders to apply. However, we set the minimum staff size because we have found that it is difficult for small-staffed organizations to carry on normal operations while releasing their leaders to the fellowship for three months over two years. Even those that meet the three FTE minimum may be at a disadvantage showing that they are highly influential leaders in their field, and that the organization will be able to manage without its leader for long stretches of time.
How are the Stanton Fellows selected?
The Stanton Fellows are selected by a review panel made up of Durfee trustees, staff, past Stanton fellows, and esteemed community leaders. Panelists recuse themselves from any decisions that would present a conflict of interest.
What happens at the quarterly meetings of the Fellows?
Each of the six Fellows is responsible for hosting one of the quarterly meetings throughout the fellowship. The other two meetings are retreats, at the beginning and end of the fellowship period. The Fellow who is hosting presents his or her work and project to the rest of the group, in essence giving a “crash course” in that field to their peers. Past Fellows have arranged tours of grocery stores in South L.A., set up meetings with union organizers, explored employment options for women on Skid Row, and highlighted opportunities to use the arts to animate the City’s public spaces. The Fellows spend the better part of the day together and have the opportunity to discuss and brainstorm their work and projects.
What kind of reporting is required by the foundation during the grant period?
Fellows provide semi-annual narrative reports on the progress of their projects, including an accounting of how grant funds have been spent. At the end of the two-year fellowship, Fellows are expected to write a final report, and to distribute their findings to the field. Summaries are posted on Durfee’s website.
How would a Stanton Fellow allocate time spent on the fellowship and away from work?
The design of each Stanton Fellowship will be as unique as the fellows themselves, as will the way that time is dedicated to the project. For some, it will involve several short breaks of two weeks or more. For others, longer breaks may work better.
Why do you require a minimum of two-week blocks of time spent on the fellowship work? I would rather integrate my Stanton project into my day-to-day work.
We have learned from prior Fellows that it is difficult for a leader to integrate the Stanton project into ongoing executive responsibilities. The feedback from former Fellows has been consistent: you need larger blocks of time away from work to think deeply and explore new terrain that your project will require. The Fellowship should immerse you in a new world, and allow for intensive inquiry. We hope that you will be able to travel, attend conferences, visit sister organizations or work with consultants. This sort of engagement must be planned in advance, and will require substantial – and not intermittent – time.
How should the grant funds be allocated?
A large portion of the grant will be spent to buy the time of the nonprofit leader, by underwriting his or her salary for a portion of the time devoted to the project. Funds can also be used for travel, research materials, coursework, or consultants.
What is the end product expected at the conclusion of the Stanton Fellowship?
The end product for each fellowship will be unique. Applicants to the program are expected to set goals for themselves, but those goals will depend on the nature of the project.
While we hope the Fellow might be successful in solving a problem, it is more important to us that he or she has a plan to share lessons learned with colleagues, so that others can benefit from the fellowship without having to travel the same ground.
I have been involved with youth development for over 20 years. I know that there is a better way to train inner-city youth for jobs, but I don’t know what the answer is. Can I get a grant to investigate this?
We don’t expect applicants to have all the answers before they apply for a Stanton Fellowship. One of the purposes of the fellowship is to discover or formulate new ideas and approaches. The Foundation is prepared to send Fellows into uncharted territory. However, applicants should have some idea about how they will go about tackling their issue and be able to propose a plan for doing so.
After the first year of the fellowship, Stanton Fellows will be asked to review their progress and submit a plan for the second half of the fellowship. It may be that initial assumptions were proven incorrect, and the fellow decides to embark on an entirely new path at that point. The Durfee Foundation hopes that Stanton Fellows will embody the right mix of curiosity, drive, openness and flexibility to make their projects work.
I would like to dedicate my Stanton Fellowship to figuring out the best way for my organization to adapt its mission to a changing world, and create a plan for carrying that out. Is this a likely Stanton project?
No. We are not looking for projects that focus on a single agency, or that seem to represent the core work of that organization. While we recognize that these are often laudable goals in real need of funding, this is not the purpose of the Stanton Fellowship.
My agency has developed an innovative program that I want to share with the field. I would like to use the Stanton Fellowship to do an in-depth evaluation of this program that shows how effective it is, and then share it with sister agencies. Should I apply?
The Stanton Fellowship is an inquiry, not a funding source for projects whose answers are known in advance. Projects that seek to evaluate ongoing work would not be strong Stanton candidates.
Can my project include advocacy work such as lobbying for legislative change?
The Durfee Foundation, as a private foundation, is subject to limitations on its ability to fund lobbying. However, there may be projects involving lobbying that a Stanton Fellow would want to pursue that the Foundation could support. Applicants who are contemplating projects that include advocacy are encouraged to contact the foundation to discuss their plans prior to submitting their applications.
Where did the idea for the Stanton Fellowship come from?
Since 1997, the Durfee Foundation has operated the Durfee Sabbatical Program, which offers nonprofit leaders in Los Angeles County the opportunity to take an extended break from work, typically three months, to rest, rejuvenate and return to work with renewed purpose. Former Sabbatical recipients suggested the Stanton Fellowship as a counterpart to the rejuvenation program, offering policy-oriented leaders an opportunity for intensive professional advancement.
The Stanton Fellowship is named after R. Stanton Avery, who, along with his wife, Dorothy Durfee Avery, founded the Durfee Foundation in 1960. Until he passed away in 1997, Stan Avery chaired Durfee’s Board of Directors and advocated for Durfee support of exceptional individuals.