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, 2022

TimeFrame: Fall Term 2022 thru Spring term 2023
or calendar year 2023

Grant Amount: up to $40,000

2022 First Book Grant Application Guide

Apply for a First Book Grant for Scholars of Color Now

Louisville Institute’s First Book Grant for Scholars of Color (FBG) assists 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. All too often such scholars are asked to assume a heavy set of institutional responsibilities that can make it more difficult to complete the scholarly work necessary to secure tenure. FBG enables scholars to spend an entire academic year devoted to that research project while free of other professional responsibilities.

Louisville Institute seeks to identify and support scholars of color whose academic work is in conversation with church leaders and shows promise to strengthen their faith communities.

Previous FBG Grants


Applicants must be:

    • persons of color;
    • recipients of an earned doctoral degree (normally the Ph.D., Th.D., or pontifical S.T.D.);
    • a pre-tenured faculty member in a full-time, tenure-track or renewable contract/continual academic position at an accredited institution of higher education (seminary, college, or university) in the United States or Canada;
    • able to negotiate a full academic year free from teaching and committee responsibilities; and
    • engaged in a scholarly research project leading to the publication of their first book—or second book, if required for tenure—focusing on some aspect of Christianity in North America.

Previous LI grantees are eligible and encouraged to apply; however, all program and financial reports for any previous grants must be submitted prior to January 15th. Applicants may not submit applications to more than one Louisville Institute grant program within the same grant year (June 1-May 31).

Louisville Institute grants cannot be awarded to members of the Louisville Presbyterian Seminary Board, faculty, administration, staff, or student body, or to any of their immediate family members (parents, spouse, or children). Institute Board members themselves and members of their immediate families are ineligible to receive Louisville Institute grants.

Questions about eligibility may be sent to Jessica Bowman.

First Book Feasibility Feedback

Louisville Institute is glad to provide brief initial feedback to help you determine if your FBG project idea fits our funding criteria. Because of the large number of FBG applicants, consultation does not guarantee funding. However, staff feedback can help you discern whether to develop your ideas into a full grant proposal.

Before contacting us, please do the following:

    • Describe your professional/institutional context (include website link) and indicate the steps you’ve already taken to secure a full year of academic leave (one paragraph).
    • State your project’s core question — framed as a question — and say why it is important to faith communities in North America (one paragraph).
    • Identify how you plan to investigate this question, indicating potential research strategies (2-3 paragraphs).
    • Share your outline with several trusted colleagues and incorporate their feedback.

After completing these steps, email your brief project outline (500 words maximum) to the Associate Director with the subject “FBG feedback.” We will respond to all feedback requests submitted prior to December 1.


FBG Application Requirements

In order for an application to be considered for a grant, applicants must go to APPLY on our website and submitted all application materials no later than 11:59pm on January 15, 2022.  Letters of Recommendations must be submitted by the recommender by January 22, 2022.  If you encounter problems, contact Jessica Bowman.

A complete proposal must include:

    • Applicant Information (time frame, amount, etc.)
    • Project Quotation: If you only had one sentence to say something about your project, what would you say?
    • Core Question: In 1-3 sentences, state your project’s core question—framed as a question—and say why it is important to the church in North America.
    • Project Summary: Summarize your project in approximately 200 words.
    • Proposal Narrative: In approximately 5-7 pages (12-point and double-spaced) describe your proposal in detail, using the following outline:
        • Core 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: field work if appropriate, travel, and other resources and activities 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?
        • Timeframe: What is the schedule and timeline for the project? For 2022 FBG grantees, this should either be Fall Term 2022 through Spring Term 2023 or calendar year 2023.
    • Selective bibliography of the main sources to be read (2-3 pages double-spaced)
    • Detailed budget and budget narrative – see 2022 First Book Grant Application Guide
    • Your current Curriculum Vitae or résumé (no more than 4 pages).
    • Two Letters of Recommendation (Colleague and Assessing Project Feasibility) and Letter of Release: When uploading your application materials, please provide the names, email addresses and phone numbers for your recommenders.  LI will immediately email those recommenders with a link to submit their documents online. Applicants should contact their recommenders in advance to explain procedures and guidelines.  Letters of Recommendation must to be submitted by January 22.
      • Letter of Recommendation from Colleague: Your Colleague letter should come from someone – either within or outside your institution – who can provide a candid assessment of your reliability and capacity to carry out the proposed project. Your recommender should describe how your previous work demonstrates skills needed to conduct this First Book Grant for Scholars of Color. In what ways might this project strengthen the church in North America?
      • Letter Assessing Project Feasibility: Your Feasibility letter should come from someone who can provide a 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. Your recommender will tell us how you are well-suited to undertake this venture and why the proposed project has relevance for the church in North America — Why is this a living question that we must address to insure the vitality of North American Christian congregations?
      • Letter of Release: Your academic dean or chairperson must confirm release from teaching responsibilities and administrative duties in the event a grant is awarded.

Review and Selection Process

Every year the Louisville Institute Board appoints a selection committee to review proposals and award First Book for Minority Scholars 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

The grant amount requested should not exceed $40,000 and must support a full year of academic leave. (The FBG grant does not support sabbatical leaves of less than a full academic year.) Since the Louisville Institute pays the grant directly to the applicant’s academic institution, the budget cannot include indirect costs to institution. Awards will be announced on or before March 15, 2022.


Grantees must be released from all teaching, administrative duties, and committee responsibilities during the award year; applications must include a letter from the appropriate dean or chairperson confirming that the applicant will be released from those responsibilities if grant is awarded. (If the institution does not award tenure, this letter should also briefly describe the faculty review process that provides faculty members with continuing, full-time employment, such as renewable term contracts.)

Grantees may not accept other awards that provide a major stipend during the tenure of this grant except insofar as necessary to bring the sabbatical year salary up to the grantee’s full salary level. Although the Louisville Institute First Book Grant Program for Minority Scholars has no residence requirement, all 2022 FBG grantees are expected to participate in the Institute’s January 2023 Winter Seminar (dates & location TBD). LI will pay travel and lodging expenses for this gathering.

Please note that Louisville Institute grantees may not simultaneously hold two grants from Lilly Endowment-funded organizations that total more than $45,000.