How to Apply



Individual candidates for this program should:
  • Be outstanding leaders who have a demonstrated track record of contribution to the community
  • Hold the title of CEO, Executive Director, or an equivalent full-time position that reports directly to the board of a nonprofit organization (employees of educational institutions and government agencies are not eligible for this program)
  • Have worked a minimum of seven consecutive years in a leadership role in the nonprofit sector (though not necessarily for one organization) without significant leave
  • Be eager to participate in a peer network of program alumni
  • Be valued by their peers
  • Have financial need
  • Live full-time in Los Angeles County
The candidate’s employing organization should:
  • Be a nonprofit organization (government agencies and educational institutions are not eligible)
  • Be located in and focused on Los Angeles County
  • Be recognized by the community for its programs
  • Have at least five full-time paid staff
  • Look to the applicant’s sabbatical as an opportunity to develop the next level of leadership within the organization
  • Offer its endorsement of the request for leave
  • Need financial assistance to underwrite the candidate’s leave
  • Be able to sustain regular operations during the candidate’s absence

If you are uncertain about your eligibility, please call the foundation at (310) 899-5120.

Review Criteria

The Sabbatical review panel will consider each application in light of these questions:

Role and Tenure
  • Has the candidate been in a CEO, Executive Director, or principal role of a nonprofit for at least the past seven years?
  • Is the candidate ultimately responsible for the organization — i.e. is this the person with whom the buck stops?


Leadership Beyond the Organization
  • Has the candidate demonstrated leadership beyond the four walls of their organization?
  • Will the candidate participate in and contribute to the sabbatical peer network?


Organizational Readiness
  • Is there stable secondary staff in place to take over interim leadership during the sabbatical?
  • Are there enough of them to absorb the load?
  • Is the organization well poised to take advantage of this opportunity — i.e., does the organization have strong finances, no immediate debt, not in transition, or dealing with any other issue that would destabilize the organization?
  • Is the board supportive?


  • Is this a good moment, both personally and professionally, for the leader to step away?
  • Is there a sense of urgency about why this year is the right year — i.e., new building recently completed, child going off to college, capital campaign forecast to begin in 2-3 years?
  • Is the candidate committed to remaining for at least the next three years at their organization?


Candidate Readiness
  • Does the candidate have a good plan for the sabbatical that is not work-related?
  • Does the candidate really seem capable of disengaging from work?


Financial Need
  • Could the candidate afford to take a leave without financial subsidy?
  • Is the candidate able to take comfortable, traveling vacations annually, or does it appear they could do so with their current income and available vacation?
  • Does the organization have an endowment or a sufficiently large budget that would suggest it could underwrite the sabbatical without Durfee support?


Professional Development Fund
  • Does the organization make a good case for how it already supports or will support the professional development of its staff in the future?

Program Timeline

The 2021-22 Sabbatical Fellows have been announced. The next application cycle will be in 2023. Please check back then for more announcements.


View Sample Application
(Have you read the review criteria and FAQs?)

Click here to view further advice from previous Sabbatical recipients.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the Sabbatical grant cover?

The Durfee Foundation provides a grant of $50,000 for the purpose of supporting a three-month Sabbatical for nonprofit leaders. The Foundation also provides $5,000 to be distributed by the organization as stipends to the interim staff, as well as $5,000 to establish a Professional Development Fund at the agency, if requested and approved.

We are the co-directors of a nonprofit. Can both of us submit an application?

No, we discourage having multiple co-directors at an organization apply in the same application cycle. The foundation does not offer the grant to more than one leader at the organization; we strongly encourage that you and your co-director(s) have a discussion before applying to determine which of you would be more suited for the Sabbatical award based on the review criteria. You should also be mindful that the foundation will not make two Sabbatical awards to the same organization within a five-year period. While your other co-director would not be eligible for the Sabbatical in that duration, we encourage leaders in need of more immediate respite to review our Do-It-Yourself Sabbatical Guide For Nonprofits.

I work for an organization that is not in Los Angeles County. Can I apply to the Sabbatical Program?

No, the Sabbatical Program is limited to applicants who work in Los Angeles County.

There is no way that my organization can spare me for more than a month. Can I apply for a shorter sabbatical?

No, the program requires a sabbatical of three consecutive months. The purpose of the program is to provide nonprofit leaders with a real break from their work. Evaluation shows that this cannot be accomplished in one month. We are sympathetic to the preparation difficulties that a longer break presents but believe that a strong nonprofit that is thinking about its future should be able to give a valued leader a longer break with the financial assistance that the Sabbatical grant provides.

Can I break my sabbatical into two six-week segments?

No, the sabbatical must be for three consecutive months for the reasons stated in the prior answer.

If I receive the Sabbatical this year, when does my Sabbatical need to begin?

Fellows must begin their Sabbatical within one year of receiving the award. Most fellows leave for their Sabbaticals 9-11 months upon receiving the award.

I work for a small nonprofit. Am I eligible?

Yes, leaders of small nonprofits are eligible for the program as long as there is strong secondary leadership and at least five full-time staff. All applicants must demonstrate that existing staff can carry on the work of the organization as usual while the candidate is away. Historically, organizations with budgets of less than $1 million have not fared as well during the selection process.

I work for a very large nonprofit. Can I apply?

Yes, applicants from large nonprofits are eligible. However, the program requires that nonprofits receiving the Sabbatical award must demonstrate financial need to underwrite the candidate’s leave. Organizations with very large budgets, especially those with significant endowments, may not be qualified.

Why aren’t employees of governmental or educational institutions eligible to apply?

Durfee is not able to mandate changes in government human resource policies, which would be required to accommodate a sabbatical. We don’t provide Sabbatical support to educational institutions because the academic calendar generally offers more regular blocks of break time than are available to nonprofits. In addition, while we recognize that some schools operate as independent nonprofits, it would be untenable for the foundation to favor private over public schools. Finally, Durfee is a relatively small foundation whose resources are stretched to meet the needs of nonprofit organizations. We simply lack capacity to respond to the needs of LA’s large network of schools.

My organization is in the process of constructing a new building. Am I still eligible?

Given the difficulty of managing a construction project and timeline, ongoing construction may be a red flag for the panel during the application review process. However, it is not necessarily an impediment for the application. Please call our office to discuss this further.

I am self-employed and do freelance work in the nonprofit sector. Can I apply?

No, only full-time paid staff are eligible for the program.

I have been a lifelong volunteer in the nonprofit sector. Am I eligible?

No, the program is open to paid staff only.

I am not the Executive Director, but I have senior management responsibility. Can I apply?

Unfortunately, no. The Sabbatical is designed for the most senior leader of the organization, who reports directly to the board, and carries the ultimate responsibility for managing resources and implementing programs.

I am planning on retiring in the next few years. Am I eligible?

Unfortunately, no. The program is not designed for executive transition but to invest in leaders who are committed to staying in their position for at least the next three years.

How are Sabbatical awardees selected?

The awardees are selected by a review panel of past Sabbatical awardees, and Durfee trustees and staff.  They are guided by the review criteria.

Why does the application ask for family income?

The Sabbatical Selection Panel is looking at many factors when making its decisions. One of those factors is the relative need of the applicants. An applicant with a low family income and several dependents is much less likely to be able to take regular, restorative breaks than an applicant with a higher income and fewer financial obligations. We acknowledge that these judgments are difficult to make and no panel can fully understand the life circumstances of each applicant. The criteria changes with each applicant year because the information is relative to the other applicants in the pool.

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