First Book Grant for Scholars of Color

The First Book Grant for Scholars of Color (FBG) offers grants up to $40,000 to assist early career, non-tenured religion scholars of color to complete a major research project on an issue in North American Christianity related to the priorities of the Louisville Institute. Grant periods are typically one academic year in length.


Application Deadline: January 15, 2023

Timeframe: Fall Term 2023 thru Spring term 2024,
or calendar year 2024

Grant Amount: up to $40,000

Louisville Institute’s First Book Grant for Scholars of Color (FBG) provides grants of up to $40,000 to assist early career, pre-tenured religion scholars of color to complete a major research project about Christian faith and life, the practice of ministry, religious trends and movements, Christian and other faith-based institutions, and religion and social issues. The First Book Grant for Scholars of Color enables such scholars to spend an academic year devoted to the research project free from teaching and administrative responsibilities.

FBG Projects may be rooted in varied fields such as history, systematic and practical theology, social sciences, ethics, biblical studies, etc., or may be interdisciplinary in nature. Of particular interest to the Louisville Institute are projects with the potential to generate new knowledge that enriches the life of the church in North America. Projects this cycle should be used for a fall 2023–spring 2024 sabbatical, or for the calendar year 2024.

Download the full 2023 FBG Application Guide

Learn about previous FBG Grants


Who is eligible for a FBG?

First Book Grants are awarded to scholars of color in the United States and Canada who have completed their Ph.D. or Th.D. and are pre-tenured faculty members working in full-time, tenure-track or renewable contract/continual academic positions at accredited institutions of higher education (seminary, theological school, or college/university) in the United States or Canada. Applicants should be engaged in scholarly research toward the publication of their first book—or second book, if required for tenure—and able to negotiate a full academic year free from teaching and committee responsibilities. More information about eligibility can be found in the 2023 FBG Application Guide.

If you have questions about grant eligibility, please email

How do I apply?

  1. Download the 2023 FBG Application Guide. The application guide contains the details you need. Read this document carefully and refer to it as you prepare your materials.
  2. Review the eligibility requirements in the guide.
  3. Create an account. Click on the “Apply” button to create an account and get started.
  4. Prepare your materials. Complete applications require the following:
      1. General application information
      2. Project core question: What is the main question you hope to explore? (100 words)
      3. Project summary/abstract (2000 character limit, approx. 200 words)
      4. Project snapshot: In one sentence, provide an intriguing, quotable “snapshot” of your project (for use on our website and in publicity materials)
      5. Project narrative (1500 words) that includes:
        • A rationale for why your project should be funded
        • Your study/research plan
        • How you intend to share what you discover
        • The impact you hope your project will have
        • A project schedule/timeframe (between January 1, 2023 and December 31, 2024)
      6. Bibliography: a list of primary resources you plan to study, review, or consult (2–3 pages)
      7. Proposal budget (both a line item budget and an explanatory budget narrative)
      8. Curriculum Vitae or résumé (maximum four pages)
      9. Two Letters of Recommendation: one from a colleague who can assess your skills and abilities to carry out the project, and one from a colleague who can assess the feasibility and significance of the project, both due January 22, 2023
      10. Letter of Release: Your letter of release should come from your academic dean or department chair to confirm your release from teaching and academic responsibilities for the grant period in the event a grant is awarded, due January 22, 2023
  5. Submit all application materials by the due date: 11:59 p.m. EDT on January 15, 2023. Letters must be submitted by the recommenders by January 22, 2022.

What is the Selection process?

Each year the Louisville Institute appoints a selection committee to review proposals and award First Book Grants for Scholars of Color. Committee membership and deliberations are confidential. All applicants will be notified as soon as possible following the selection process, which usually takes place about 5 weeks after the application due date. 

We are often asked how many applications we receive for our grants. For each of the last several years of the FBG program, we have averaged 20–25 eligible applications and awarded 3–5 grants.

Is my project idea a good fit for a FBG?

We are happy to provide initial feedback on your project idea and help you determine if it fits our funding criteria. Before submitting your request to LI, fully review the 2023 FBG Application Guide and share your plan with a few trusted colleagues to get their feedback. Also consider seeking input from persons who might be participants in your research, especially if they are members of vulnerable or underprivileged groups.

To request feedback, please respond to the following questions about your project in no more than 500 words (total): 

  • What is the heart of your project — the question you want to explore — and why is the project important to you, your community, and the church in North America? (2–3 sentences)
  • What is the context in which you hope to carry out your project? (2–3 sentences)
  • How do you plan to conduct your study? Describe research strategies or methods you think you might use and why you think they will be helpful (e.g., interviews, surveys, observation, visits, library records).

Submit your responses using the online Feedback Form ( Because we receive many requests for feedback, responses can take several weeks, but we will respond to all feedback requests submitted prior to December 1, 2022.

Questions? Don’t hesitate to contact us!