The Louisville Institute

The Louisville Institute
1044 Alta Vista Road Louisville, KY 40205 (502) 992-5432

Sabbatical Grant for Researchers


Are you ready to apply? Begin Online Application Here.

The Louisville Institute’s Sabbatical Grant for Researchers Program enables ecclesially-engaged academics and scholarly religious leaders to conduct a major study that can contribute to the vitality of Christianity in North America. Grants of up to $40,000 support year-long research projects that address Christian faith and life, the practice of ministry, and/or religious institutions.

View Previously Awarded Grants


The Sabbatical Grant for Researchers program is open to both academic and pastoral leaders who are based in the United States or Canada. While pastoral leaders are eligible to apply to the SGR program, their proposals will likely be more competitive in the Pastoral Study Project program.

Preference given to applicants who are fully employed in accredited academic institutions and eligible for a full academic year leave from teaching.

Applicants must have earned the terminal degree in their chosen vocation. For pastors, this is typically the Master of Divinity degree; for academics it is usually the Ph.D. or Th.D. Note that grant funding does not support tuition or degree program expenses. All applicants must demonstrate a capacity to complete the proposed project in a timely fashion.

Proposed projects may employ a variety of methodological perspectives, including, but not limited to, historical, systematic and practical theology, the social sciences, history, ethics, or biblical studies. They may also be interdisciplinary in nature. All applicants should make clear how their project will contribute to the life of the church in North America.

Previous Louisville Institute grant recipients are eligible and encouraged to apply; however, all program and financial reports for any previous grants must be submitted prior to November 1st. Applicants may only apply to one Louisville Institute grant program within the same grant year (June 1-May 31).

Questions about eligibility may be sent to

SGR Feasibility Feedback

The Louisville Institute is glad to provide brief initial consultation to help you determine if your project ideas fit our funding criteria. Feasibility Feedback is optional and not required to submit an application. Because of the large number of SGR applicants, consultation does not automatically guarantee funding. However, staff feedback can help you discern whether to develop your ideas into a full grant proposal.

Before contacting us, please follow these steps:

• In a single paragraph, state your project’s core question and explain why it is important to the church in North America

• In 2-3 paragraphs identify how you plan to investigate this question, indicating your research strategies

• Share your outline with several trusted colleagues and incorporate their feedback

After completing these steps, you may email this brief project outline (500 words maximum) to Don Richter with the subject heading “SGR feedback.” We will respond to all feedback requests submitted prior to October 15.

Application Procedure

Beginning with the Applicant Information link below, please upload your application materials in *.pdf format (preferred). Assemble all required documents and recommender email addresses and upload your application materials in one session. All digital documents must be submitted by the annual November 1 deadline. Recommenders must submit their letters by November 8th. If you encounter problems with online submission contact Keri Liechty at

Are you applying with a colleague to the Sabbatical Grant for Researchers Grant? If yes, click here for additional guidelines: SGR Co-applicant Information Guide.

Applications should include:

  • Applicant Information (Application details; 1-3 sentences stating your project's core question and why it is important to the church in North America; and 200-word summary)
  • Narrative statement of approximately 5-7 pages (12-point and double-spaced). Describe your proposal in detail using the following outline:
    • Concern/Question: What is the primary concern or question being addressed?
    • Rationale: Why is the proposed topic important to you and to the church? What are the consequences if this issue is not investigated and responded to?
    • Plan: How do you intend to study and investigate the concern? Include a description of the way in which you will conduct the inquiry: bibliography of the main sources to be read, field work if appropriate, travel and other resources necessary to complete the project.
    • Dissemination: Who is your audience for this research? How do you plan to share your research with them? What oral forms of dissemination fit the project (e.g. sermons, education venues, speeches, conference papers)? What written forms of dissemination fit the project (e.g., essay, article, book, other possible publication venues)?
    • Impact: What personal, academic, and spiritual impacts do you see for yourself in engaging in this project? What benefits will come to your institution and to the larger church?
    • Timeline: What is the schedule and timeline for the project?
  • Selective bibliography of the main sources to be read (2-3 pages double-spaced)
  • Detailed budget and budget narrative – see Guide for Budget Preparation
  • Copy of your current Curriculum Vitae or résumé (no more than 4 pages).
  • Two Letters of Recommendation: When uploading your application materials, please provide email addresses for your two recommenders. After submitting your application, the Louisville Institute will immediately email those persons with instructions for submitting their documents online. You will also receive an email confirming that recommenders have been notified. We notify you via email as each person successfully submits a document. We advise applicants to contact their recommenders well in advance to explain procedures and guidelines (below) so that completed letters can be promptly uploaded when requested by the Institute. Letters of Recommendation need to be submitted by November 8th.
    • Letter of Recommendation from Colleague — The recommender will be instructed: After reviewing the applicant's plans, craft your letter (on letterhead, if applicable) as a colleague. Provide your candid assessment of the applicant's reliability and capacity to carry out the proposed project. Describe how the applicant's previous work demonstrates skills needed to conduct this study. In what ways might this project strengthen the church in North America?
    • Letter Assessing Project Feasibility — The recommender will be instructed: After reviewing the applicant's plans, craft a letter (on letterhead, if applicable) providing your candid assessment of the need for this project, the feasibility of this project, and the distinctiveness of this project in light of what others are doing or have already done. Tell us how the applicant is well-suited to undertake this study and why the proposed project has relevance for the church in North America.

Review and Selection Process

Every year the Louisville Institute Board appoints a selection committee to review proposals and award Sabbatical Grant for Researchers grants. Committee membership and deliberations remain confidential.

Applicants whose projects are not funded will be notified by mail as soon as possible following the adjudication process. Due to the large number of applications the Institute receives, LI Board and staff members do not provide additional feedback on declined proposals.

Duration of Award and Stipend

Research periods supported by this grant may range from nine months to one year. The grant amount requested should not exceed $40,000. Normally, the Louisville Institute will pay the grant directly to the institutions of those selected. The Louisville Institute allows up to 10 percent indirect costs based on the total direct costs of the project. Awards will be announced on or before February 1, 2016.


Generally applicants should be released from all professional duties during the grant period. Academic applicants eligible for a sabbatical leave and/or a release from all teaching responsibilities during the grant year should indicate that fact in their proposal. Pastors should be released from all employment duties during the entire grant period. Academic and pastoral applicants who cannot be released from all professional duties should indicate in their proposals how they plan to devote sufficient time to the proposed project. In many cases, for example, this may require a course buyout or some other reduction in teaching load or a buyout of a certain number of Sundays for pastors. Louisville Institute grantees may not simultaneously hold two grants from Lilly Endowment-funded organizations that total more than $45,000.

No recipient of a Louisville Institute grant or fellowship may also be awarded a Henry Luce III Fellowship during the same selection year. Applicants to both programs may only accept one award.