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 equivalent full-time position who reports directly to the board at a high performing nonprofit organization (employees of educational institutions and government agencies are not eligible for this program)
  • Have worked a minimum of 7 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 recognized by their peers as exceptional
  • Have financial need
  • Live full-time in Los Angeles County
The candidate’s employing organization should:
  • 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 an E.D., CEO, or principal role for at least the past 7 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 his/her organization?
  • Does s/he sit on commissions or boards, teach or testify, or otherwise serve as a policy voice in the field?


Organizational Readiness
  • Is there stable secondary staff in place to take over interim leadership?
  • Are there enough of them to absorb the load?
  • Is the organization well poised to take advantage of this opportunity — i.e., stable finances, no immediate debt, transition, or other issue that would destabilize org?
  • Does the board seem 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., capital campaign recently completed, child going off to college, and a sabbatical would not be as useful in the future?


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


Financial Need
  • Could the candidate afford to take a leave without financial subsidy?
  • Is s/he able to take comfortable, traveling vacations annually, or does it appear s/he could do so with current income and available vacation?
  • Does the organization have endowment or 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

December 2, 2019: Awards Ceremony

January 2020: Applications open for 2020-21 cohort

April 15, 2020: Application Deadline

June 2020: Finalist Interviews

July 9, 2020: Mandatory Orientation

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

Click here to view further advice from previous Sabbatical recipients.

Frequently Asked Questions

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?

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.

I work for a small nonprofit. Am I eligible?

Yes. Leaders of small to mid-size 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 the work of the organization can carry on as usual while they are away.

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.

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.

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 change with each applicant year because the information is relative to the other applicants in the pool.

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

Contact Us

Back to top