How to Apply



Individual candidates for this program should:
  • Be outstanding leaders who have a demonstrated track record of contribution to the community, such as active participation on boards, commissions, working groups, or  community forums
  • Hold the title of CEO, Executive Director, or an equivalent full-time position that reports directly to the nonprofit organization’s governing body. (Employees of educational institutions and government agencies are not eligible for this program)
  • Have worked a minimum of ten years in the nonprofit sector and have been in the principal leadership role for at least four years without significant leave
  • Be committed to staying at the organization for at least the next two to three years
  • Be eager to participate in a peer network of program alumni
  • Have financial need
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
  • Have a supportive board/advisory board and staff leadership
  • Be recognized by its community of stakeholders and peers for its vision, leadership, and partnership
  • Have at least five full-time paid staff, including the candidate
  • Look to the applicant’s sabbatical as an opportunity to develop more distributed and sustainable leadership within the organization
  • Offer its endorsement of the leader’s request for a sabbatical  
  • Need financial assistance to underwrite the candidate’s leave
  • Be able to sustain regular operations during the candidate’s absence

Durfee is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and therefore seeks organizations whose mission, values, and staff are rooted in and reflect the communities they work with. We highly encourage organizations to apply that work with historically marginalized communities, including but not limited to BIPOC, LGBTQ, low-income communities, etc.

Questions? Please contact Stella Chung at

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 or Executive Director role of a nonprofit for at least the past four years?
  • Has the candidate worked in the nonprofit sector for at least ten years?
Leadership Beyond the Organization
  • Has the candidate demonstrated leadership outside their organization?
  • Will the candidate participate in and contribute to the sabbatical peer network?
Organizational Readiness
  • Is there experienced staff in place to take over interim leadership and manage the workload during the sabbatical?
  • Is the organization well poised to take advantage of this opportunity — i.e., does the organization have stable finances, no significant debt, not in transition, or dealing with any other issue that would destabilize the organization?
  • Is the board supportive?
  • Does the organization have good values and clear policy around staff sustainability? (Vacation policy, etc.)
  • Does the organization support a culture of care, even though its expression may have been limited because of inadequate funding?
  • 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 for the individual as well as the organization?
  • 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?
  • Has the candidate taken advantage of vacation time available to them?
Financial Need
  • Could the candidate afford to take a leave without financial subsidy when household income is considered?
  • Does the organization have an endowment or a sufficiently large budget that would suggest it could underwrite the sabbatical without Durfee support?
Professional Development
  • Does the organization support the professional development and sustainability of its staff?

Program Timeline

Our 2023-24 Sabbatical Application deadline has passed. The next application cycle will be in 2025. Please check back then for more announcements.

For any inquiries in the interim, please reach out to


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 $60,000 for the purpose of supporting a three-month Sabbatical for nonprofit leaders. The Foundation also provides a Staff Support Fund in the amount of $15,000 to the organization to 1) reward interim leaders and/or 2) create or augment professional and well-being support to the staff.

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

We welcome applications from co-directors but only one at a time in the same application cycle, as the foundation does not offer the grant to more than one leader at the organization in the same application cycle. 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. If you are selected as an awardee, your co-director will be allowed to apply in the next round of applications.

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 both work and are rooted 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 to11 months after receiving the award, allowing ample time for the organization to prepare.

I work for a small nonprofit. Am I eligible?

Yes, leaders of small nonprofits are eligible for the program as long as there is a strong leadership structure and at least five full-time staff. Historically, organizations with budgets of less than $1.5 million have not fared as well during the selection. All applicants must demonstrate that existing staff can carry on the work of the organization as usual while the candidate is away. If your organization’s budget is less than 1.5 million, we encourage you to take a look at our Lark program, which supports the collective care and renewal of staff at small community-centered organizations with deep roots in their Los Angeles communities.

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 substantial endowments or large reserves 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 midst of major changes and transition. Am I still eligible?

Major changes and transitions at the organization may be a red flag for the panel during the application review process. For example, if your organization is in the midst of constructing a new building, panelists will factor this into their decision given the difficulty of managing a construction project and timeline. 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. The candidate should ultimately be responsible for the organization and the staff member with whom the buck stops.

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 Sabbatical alumni, and Durfee trustees and staff. They are guided by the review criteria.

Why does the application ask for family income?

We would like to prioritize applicants who may not be able to self-finance regular, restorative breaks. We look at many factors when making a decision, such as low household income, financial obligations, and number of dependents. 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. To help the panel better understand any of your extenuating financial circumstances, please include this information in the Budget & Finances section of your application.

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