View Previously Awarded Grants

Application Deadline: November 1

Grant Amount: Up to $40,000

2017 SGR Application Guide

Apply for a Sabbatical Grant for Researchers now.

Louisville Institute’s Sabbatical Grant for Researchers program (SGR) 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.

Previous SGR 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 and administrative duties.

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 LI grantees 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

LI is glad to provide brief initial feedback to help you determine if your SGR project idea fits our funding criteria. Because of the large number of SGR 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:

  • State your project’s core question — framed as a question — and say why it is important to the church 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 Don Richter with the subject “SGR feedback.” We will respond to all feedback requests submitted prior to October 15.

SGR Application Requirements

All documents must be submitted by the November 1 deadline. Upload each application requirement in *.pdf format (preferred). Recommenders must submit their letters by November 8th. If you encounter problems, contact Keri Liechty.

Are you applying with a colleague to the Sabbatical Grant for Researchers? If yes, the Project Director will submit application requirements online. Your co-applicant will receive email to create an account, upload a résumé, and provide recommender contact information.  See Co-applicant information – SGR for more information.

Applications must include:

  • Applicant Information
    • Application details (time frame, amount, etc.)
    • Core Question: State your project’s core question in 1-3 sentences and say why it is important to the church in North America.
    • Project Summary: Summarize your project in approximately 200-words.
  • 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: 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
  • 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 requirements, provide name, email addresses and phone for recommenders. After submitting your application, LI will immediately email recommenders with a link to submit letters online. LI will notify you via email as each person successfully submits a letter. Applicants should contact their recommenders in advance to explain procedures and guidelines (below). Letters of Recommendation must be submitted by November 8th.
    • 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 study and coordinate this Sabbatical Grant for Researchers. 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:  The applicant’s academic dean or chairperson confirms release from teaching and academic responsibilities 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 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, 2017.


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 and administrative 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.