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2018 Cal Wellness Sabbatical Program Award

The process of preparing for the sabbatical led to permanent organizational shifts that made us more effective.


NOTE: The Sabbatical Application Period is Now Over

Rest and Renewal for Executive Directors—Professional Development for Your Team

Are You an Executive Director Who’s Been in Your Role for at Least Six Years?

Do you want to take three months to six months off to focus on yourself, your family or your personal aspirations? Do you want your organization to strengthen its resources and deepen its capacity to function well, even when you’re not there?

If you answered yes to the above questions, then consider applying for a Cal Wellness Sabbatical Program Award. Since 2003, 92 individuals and their organizations have benefited from this gift of time and money.

We will award up to eight $40,000 grants to nonprofit organizations that are dedicated to improving health and wellness in their communities. The organization may use up to $30,000 of the award to pay for the executive directors’ salaries and benefits. The remaining funds are to go toward professional development for staff and interim leadership.

What Past Recipients Say:

“Even the application process got me to think differently about my organization.”

“I wrote the book that had been on hold for years.”

“The process of preparing for the sabbatical led to permanent organizational shifts that made us more effective.”

“When I returned, my staff was more comfortable and confident with their own authority.”

“I took the time I needed to change my diet and exercise habits.”

“I felt deeply rested at the end of my three month sabbatical.”

Learn More

All applications must be received by Wednesday, April 11, 2018 at 11:59 pm Pacific Time. Grant recipients of the 2018 Cal Wellness Sabbatical Program Award will be notified by September 2018.

Cal Wellness Sabbatical Program Award Application Guide

This downloadable guide provides step-by-step instructions for submitting a Cal Wellness Sabbatical Program Award application using the Cal Wellness Grants Portal. Download the Award Application Guide (PDF). If you have any other questions, please e-mail sabbatical@calwellness.org or leave a message at (818) 702-1970.


Cal Wellness will host a 60-minute informational webinar on Wednesday, March 14 at 1PM. for organizations interested in applying for the sabbatical award. Attendance is voluntary, and participation will have no bearing on the selection of awardee organizations. Register for the webinar.

CRITERIA & ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS – To be eligible, individuals must meet the following criteria.

Role of Individual

  • Be a paid executive director or CEO at a nonprofit health organization. Project directors in larger institutions and directors of programs under fiscal sponsor arrangement are not eligible for this award.
  • Have served in an executive director or CEO role for the past six consecutive years or longer in the same organization.
  • Be employed full-time at the applicant organization.

Approval of Your Board

  • Have the date and duration of the proposed sabbatical — between three months and six months (maximum) — approved by your organization’s board to allow both you and your organization to plan for the sabbatical. The grant term is a maximum of 15 months

If You’re Selected

  • Be willing to submit necessary reports as required.
  • Be present for the Orientation and Awards Ceremony scheduled for mid-November 2018.
  • Consent to have your photograph, background information and responses included in the public announcement of your award.
  • See the advice from other recipients here

Eligibility of Organization

Eligibility of Candidate’s Organization

  • Be located in California and provide services that explicitly contribute to the health and wellness of California residents.
  • Address the particular health needs of historically underserved populations, such as low-income individuals, people of color, youth and residents of rural areas.
  • Be a nonprofit health organization exempt under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) and not a private foundation as defined in the IRC 509(A), or a public charity as defined in IRC Section 170(A)(vi), or a government tax-exempt entity. Cal Wellness does not fund Section 509(a)(3) Type III non-functionally integrated supporting organizations.
  • Be able to sustain regular operations during the candidate’s absence.
  • Guarantee maintenance of regular operations during the candidate’s absence.
  • Guarantee maintenance of regular health and other benefits to other candidate during his or her leave.

Affiliation with Cal Wellness

  • Do not have any prohibited affiliation with The California Wellness Foundation. No Board or staff member of the Foundation, or any member of their immediate families, is eligible for a sabbatical from this grant.

Sabbatical Application Checklist

  • Application
  • Narrative Questions
  • Annual Report or Program Summary
  • Resume
  • References
  • Letter of Endorsement from Board
  • Board of Directors List
  • IRS Tax-exempt documents
  • Audited financial statements or form 990s
  • Color Photograph
  • Budget Narrative

Advice from Past Recipients

  1. Turn off your email and go away!
  2. Do something out of the ordinary. Explore other interests that you may not have noticed before.
  3. Even though you think there is never a good time, GO! If you have a solid organization, it can get along without you for a few months. Trust that.
  4. Be thoughtful in preparing your staff and board to make decisions in your absence. You don’t want to worry or have to overturn things that they did while you were gone.
  5. When you return, take time to process with staff and board about their experience. Then celebrate their stepping up during that time!

View the Sabbatical Program Past Honorees

Join Us in Advancing and Defending Wellness

Our collective voices and actions have the power to achieve real change. In the days and months ahead, we invite you to join us as we Advance and Defend Wellness. We’ll be sharing statements on what we stand for, how we’re working toward our mission and why it’s so important to defend the progress we’ve made together. We hope you’ll join us and share how you advance and defend wellness.

Please share your Advance and Defend Wellness statements in the comments here or post them on Twitter using the hashtag #AdvanceAndDefend.

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Our Mission

To protect and improve the health and wellness of the people of California by increasing access to health care, quality education, good jobs, healthy environments and safe neighborhoods.

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