Sabbatical Program

Three to six month sabbaticals offer individuals the opportunity to focus primarily on their personal needs and devote themselves to self-revitalization. The awarded compensation ($30,000) and up to $5,000 to each organization for planning and transition expenses, provides the financial support necessary for sabbatical recipients to temporarily leave their place of employment. Sabbatical recipients use this time to engage in non-professional development activities of their own choosing to aid in personal renewal and growth. While on hiatus, award recipients travel, study, read, reflect, rest, and/or explore interests unrelated to their field of work. It is the Foundation’s hope that sabbatical recipients will return recommitted to the challenges and rewards of public service and thus prolong their tenure in the nonprofit sector.

Listen to audio profiles of past sabbatical recipients to better understand how time away helped them return to their organizations with a renewed sense of focus, purpose and commitment.


Individuals in paid, full-time executive level positions, who have served their North Carolina nonprofit organizations for at least three years (two of which in an executive level position), are eligible to apply for a sabbatical. Preference is given to individuals with at least five years of experience with their organization. This program is not intended for public school, college, university or government employees, hospital administrators or full-time clergy.

Selection Criteria and Process

Up to five sabbatical recipients are selected annually based on a number of selection criteria, including the applicant’s professional accomplishments, evidence of the need for a sabbatical, potential for future contributions in his/her chosen field of work, and the difficulty of his/her work environment. 

Initial applications are screened by a Selection Committee composed of representatives of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation’s Board of Trustees, staff, former Advisory Panel members and former sabbatical recipients. Ten finalists will be selected to meet with the Committee in January/February and awards will be announced in February. Recipients must begin their sabbaticals before April after the year of selection.

Before applying, applicants are encouraged to view Sabbatical Program FAQs and a sample application.

We invite you to contact LaRita Bell, Sabbatical Coordinator, with any questions.

Apply Online

The application is now closed.

Please Note: The Foundation has increased financial support of the program to make it easier for individuals of organizations to apply; however, because of fewer applications, ZSR will begin offering the sabbatical bi-annually and will not offer sabbaticals in 2017.