Clare Rose Sabbatical Program


Applications submitted by 11:59pm PST: January 30, 2017
Many leaders in the nonprofit sector of San Diego and Orange Counties work under conditions of unrelenting stress and continuous challenges which can potentially lead to burnout. The enormous demands of their jobs, often combined with financial pressure, can prevent them from taking time off for much-needed rejuvenation.

Effective institutions are driven by creative and energetic people. The Fieldstone Foundation and the Clare Rose Foundation recognize that these leaders need time to think and reflect if they are to keep their organizations operating and serving at the highest level.

In an effort to replenish the stores of energy and inspiration for our community’s most gifted leaders, The Fieldstone Foundation and the Clare Rose Foundation have joined forces to offer the Clare Rose Sabbatical Program as part of the Fieldstone Leadership Network. This program offers up to four nonprofits with the following:

    • Individual stipends and expenses of up to $40,000 to cover salary, benefits, and travel to reflect or otherwise renew themselves in whatever manner they propose.
    • Additional support of up to $5,000 is made available to successful candidates’ employing organizations that are willing to establish a permanent, revolving fund for professional staff development. The purpose of the fund is to make it possible for other staff to have access to training programs or short-term leaves that might enhance their professional capacities. In recognition of the Clare Rose Foundation and The Fieldstone Foundation’s commitment to the professional development of all nonprofit staff, the contribution starts up the fund. As cash is drawn down, it is expected that the recipient organization will replenish the fund on an annual basis, and maintain it as a permanent line item in its budget.
    • A fund of $2,500 to appropriately compensate or reward the leader or team that filled the role of the Executive Director during the sabbatical.
    • Up to 12 consulting hours to aid in the preparation for, to be on-call during, and assist in the re-entry from the sabbatical.

The Sabbatical Program will be offered annually.

Program Goals

    • To recognize and reward accomplished nonprofit leaders by providing them with an extended break from their work for professional and personal rejuvenation.
    • To stabilize Sabbatical organizations by encouraging shared leadership.
    • To advance the skills and capacity of upper-level staff at Sabbatical nonprofits so that they can assume increased leadership.
    • To advocate for the efficacy of professional development support programs at nonprofit organizations, thereby generating field-wide appreciation of the critical value of human resources to the sector.
    • To foster cross-sector dialogue among nonprofit leaders in San Diego and Orange Counties.

For more information on the value of sabbaticals for nonprofit leaders, download copies of the report Creative Disruption at


Individual candidates for this program should:

    • Be an Executive Director of a nonprofit organization.
    • Be outstanding leaders who have a demonstrated track record of contribution to the community.
    • Work for a nonprofit organization (employees of educational institutions and government agencies, as well as consultants, are not eligible for this program).
    • Hold primary or significant responsibility for management of the organization’s funds.
    • Have worked a minimum of ten consecutive years in the nonprofit sector (though not necessarily for one organization) without significant leave.
    • Be willing to participate in the various programs of the Fieldstone Leadership Network and peer network of sabbatical program alumni.
    • Be employed full-time at the applicant organization.
    • Be recognized by their peers as exceptional individuals.
    • Have financial need.
    • Live full-time in San Diego or Orange Counties.
    • Be committed to staying in current executive leadership position with same or other nonprofit organization in San Diego or Orange County for at least 5 years (not planning to retire within the next 5 years).

The candidate’s employing organization should:

    • Be located in San Diego or Orange Counties.
    • Be recognized by the community for its programs.
    • Have at least three 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, and submit a work plan for organizational management during the candidate’s absence, and upon candidate’s return.
    • Need financial assistance to underwrite the candidate’s leave.
    • Be able to sustain regular operations during the candidate’s absence.


    1. Time away from work: This may take the form of pleasure travel, pursuit of a vocational interest, time spent at home or with one’s family. The leave can combine more than one element or location, but candidates should take care not to overschedule their sabbatical time.
    2. Minimum of three consecutive months: The three consecutive months must begin within one year of the award notification date. Additional time off is at the discretion of the organization.
    3. Submit all program reports by deadlines: There are a few reports that are required in preparation for the sabbatical and after the sabbatical. It is expected that each report is completed by the deadline. Delays in reporting can result in a loss of funds and termination of the program.
    4. Continue to participate and support the Fieldstone Leadership Network: Sabbatical award recipients are expected to take part in a peer network with other alumni and to be active participants in Fieldstone Leadership Network programs.


The Clare Rose Sabbatical Program is offered on an annual cycle.

    • Applications submitted by 11:59pm PST: January 31, 2018
    • Organizational Site Visits March 21, 2018 in San Diego, March 22, 2018 in Orange County
    • Individual CEO/ED Finalist interview dates: April 5 and 6, 2018 in San Diego Office
    • Notification of awards: May 31, 2018
    • Mandatory orientation in the San Diego Office for recipients: June 6, 2018
    • Sabbatical start date: Before June 30, 2019

IMPORTANT: Please take note of these meeting dates. These days cannot be changed. As this is an organizational capacity building grant and involves the entire organization, key members of your staff (those who may lead in the leader’s absence) and board of directors should be present for the site visit. Therefore, if you and others are not available on the days of the site visits, interviews or orientation meeting, you are not eligible to apply this year.
Be a Part of This Transformational Leadership Experience

This program is underwritten by the Clare Rose Foundation in partnership with The Fieldstone Foundation. This program is available in Orange County and San Diego in Southern California.

If you would like to participate in the next program or have any questions, please contact Robin Stropko or click here to request additional information. If you would like to apply to be considered for this program, download an application by clicking below.

Download the Clare Rose Sabbatical Program Application

Slide background
Slide background
Slide background

Past Recipients:
2-1-1, San Diego
American Diabetes Association, Orange County
The Ecology Center, San Diego
Families Forward, Orange County
Grandma’s House of Hope, Orange County
I Love a Clean San Diego, San Diego
Ivey Ranch Park Association, San Diego
Mainly Mozart, San Diego
Make-A-Wish, San Diego
Malashock Dance, San Diego
Mama’s Kitchen, San Diego
North County Lifeline, San Diego
One OC, Orange County
Pacific Arts Movement, San Diego
Susan G. Komen, Orange County

Frequently Asked Questions

I work for an organization that is not in San Diego or Orange Counties. Can I apply to the Sabbatical Program?

No, the Sabbatical Program is limited to applicants who work for organizations in San Diego and Orange Counties.

I have not yet participated in a Fieldstone Learning Group or the Coaching Program.  Am I eligible to apply for the Sabbatical Program?

Yes, this program is available to any nonprofit organization in Orange and San Diego Counties.

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. 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.

If my organization was awarded a sabbatical experience, how soon would I be able to leave?

Due to the planning and preparation necessary to support the capacity building objectives within the recipient organization, leaders are advised to allow a minimum of four months after the award is presented before departing on sabbatical. Generally, this means leaving no earlier than October of the award year.

I work for a very small nonprofit. Am I eligible?

Yes. Leaders of small nonprofit organizations are eligible for the program, as long as there is strong secondary leadership among full-time, paid staff. It is anticipated that the organization has at least three, and preferably more, 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 grant must demonstrate financial need to underwrite the candidate’s leave. Organizations with very large budgets, especially those with significant endowments, are at a disadvantage in this process.

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

No, only full-time paid staff is 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 a development director.  Can I apply?

Unfortunately, no.  The Sabbatical is designed for the senior leader of the organization, who carries the responsibility for managing resources and implementing programs.

I am not an Executive Director, but a Program Director. Can I apply?

Perhaps, but it would be advisable to call the Foundation to discuss your situation before applying. While most Sabbatical grants support Executive Directors, Program Directors may be considered. In addition to the other criteria for selection, the Selection Committee considers whether the Program Director plays a principal leadership role in the financial management of the organization, carrying a significant workload, managing staff and sharing substantially in fundraising and fiscal responsibilities such as making payroll and meeting other financial obligations.

I work for a nonprofit educational institution. Can I apply?

No, the program is not open to applicants working at educational institutions or in government.

Our organization is planning to hire an outside consultant to take over my duties as Interim Director during my sabbatical. Is that acceptable?

No. One of the purposes of the Sabbatical Program is to strengthen the secondary level of leadership at San Diego and Orange County nonprofits. Applications are viewed most favorably when the organization has a plan to elevate one or more people from within the staff to provide interim leadership. Proposals to involve board members or outside consultants as interim leaders are not allowed.

How do people use their sabbatical time?

Sabbatical recipients have gone on driving tours of the National Parks, visited relatives, vacationed abroad, spent time at home or with their families, renewed old hobbies, and developed new interests. Applicants who wish to spend a significant portion of their sabbatical time at home (San Diego or Orange Counties) may do so, but are encouraged to “break away” by leaving town at the beginning and returning later. Sabbaticals may combine one or more locations, but applicants should resist the urge to pack in too much. The primary goal is relaxation and rejuvenation.

I would like to use my sabbatical to learn Spanish and visit sister organizations in other cities. Can I do that?

The Foundation recognizes that nonprofit leaders rarely have time to pursue professional development. However, several other well-known fellowship programs provide funding for professional development. Since the main purpose of the Sabbatical Program is to take a break from work, professional development or other goal-oriented projects are not allowed.

I would love to take this opportunity to write a history of the nonprofit that I founded.

As the purpose of the sabbatical is rest and rejuvenation, it is not the time to write a book. We understand that this may be your lifelong dream, but the Foundation believes that by setting up a goal-oriented project you diminish the rejuvenating purposes of the sabbatical.

I have worked in the nonprofit sector for over 15 years, though not consecutively, and I have been employed by more than one nonprofit institution. Am I eligible?

Yes, you must have worked a minimum of ten years in a leadership role in the nonprofit sector, but those years need not be consecutive and do not have to be at any one organization.

I have had a successful run as an Executive Director of a mid-size nonprofit for the past ten years, and I am thinking of what my next career move might be. Can I use the sabbatical as a time to plan my future?

The purpose of the Sabbatical Program is to allow nonprofit leaders time to refresh themselves so they can return to their jobs with renewed vigor. It is not intended to aid job transitions. We realize, of course, that there are natural transitions in individual career paths and in the lives of nonprofit organizations, and that former Sabbatical recipients may eventually leave their positions. However, we ask that people who are actively contemplating job transitions do not apply to the program.

I will be retiring in the next couple of years. Am I eligible?

The program is targeted to nonprofit leaders who will continue to dedicate themselves to nonprofit work as full time executive directors for a minimum of 5 years. Those who will soon retire, change roles, or move out of the nonprofit sector within the next 5 years are not encouraged to apply.

Who selects the Sabbatical recipients?

The Selection Committee consists of representatives of the Clare Rose Foundation, The Fieldstone Foundation, as well as nonprofit leaders who are Fieldstone Leadership Network participants with personal experience taking a sabbatical.

What is the purpose of the Professional Development Fund?

The Professional Development Fund is a contribution of up to $5,000 to the organizations of Sabbatical recipients. The Fund is designed to provide professional development opportunities to individual staff at the recipient organizations, such as workshop fees, travel or continuing education. Candidates for the Sabbatical Program must submit a plan for how the organization will operate the Professional Development Fund, what it is to be used for, who will decide how the funds are to be distributed, and who is eligible for the funds.

The Professional Development Fund is expected to remain as a permanent line item in the organization’s budget, and be replaced on a yearly basis as it is spent down. Organizations that do not anticipate being able to replenish the full $5,000 annually can request a smaller amount.

The Fieldstone Foundation