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The O2 Sabbatical Award

Do you know a nonprofit executive director in need of an opportunity to recharge? BKF is excited to share a truly special opportunity: the O2 Sabbatical Award. Founded by two visionary philanthropists in partnership with Hirsch & Associates, the O2 Sabbatical Award supports those who have dedicated their lives to igniting positive change by giving nonprofit executive directors a supported sabbatical experience.

The O2 Initiatives program offers executive directors in San Francisco and Alameda counties a three-month break for personal and professional reinvigoration. Modeled on the Durfee Foundation’s¬†highly successful Sabbatical Program in Los Angeles, the key goals for the O2 Sabbatical Award are to:

  • Reward and re-energize executive directors
  • Improve leadership capacity and stability throughout their organizations
  • Establish a peer network of program alumni who collectively strengthen the sector

Each O2 Ititiatives award includes $40,000 to the awardee’s organization toward the cost of a three-month sabbatical, plus a $3,000 stipend for the interim leader (or team) in recognition of the additional responsibilities they will assume in the executive director’s absence.

Studies have shown that sabbaticals not only reinvigorate executive directors, but also allow other staff members the opportunity to step into new roles and increase their own leadership skills. As Hirsch & Associates CEO and BKF Advisory Committee member Susan Hirsch explains:

O2 Initiatives recognizes that the unique demands of nonprofit leadership can take a toll on even the most dedicated executive director. Intellectual, emotional, and physical burnout risks the well-being of these individuals and the organizations they lead. Sabbaticals are a powerful antidote to this. Now in our fifth year, we continue to be amazed and inspired by the power of sabbaticals to recharge high-performing executive directors and advance leadership capacity throughout their organizations. The result is stronger leaders, smarter teams, and more resilient organizations.

To learn more about the O2 Initiatives, please visit their website and also read this New York Times piece, When Being Unproductive Saves a Career. In it, Hirsch & Associates Senior Director Emily Cohen Raskin, who serves as the Executive Director of O2 Initiatives, gives her perspective on how sabbaticals help leaders to think clearly and expansively.

To apply for an O2 Initiatives Sabbatical Award, please see these instructions. Applications are due August 22, 2018.