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Sabbatical Diary: Finding Grants and Fellowships

Money Puzzle In last month’s installment to my sabbatical diary, I discussed general ways to prepare financially if your sabbatical involves a paycut.  In this month’s installment, I want to shift to another financial aspect of sabbatical life: fellowships and grants.  First, we need to make sure we can pay our bills and handle our basic commitments to ourselves and our families.  Once we have set ourselves up to do that, we then need to see what money we can find to enable us to do the research or other work we want to complete during our sabbatical.  Luckily, I will be leaving my home in September to spend the semester as a Scholar-in-Residence at New York University.  They provide me with campus housing so that I can live and work in the city for three months.  I also applied for several fellowships and grants that I lost.  From my experience, here are a few points to keep in mind.

  • Start looking for fellowships and grants now.  Do not wait until you have applied for a sabbatical to start looking for funding.  Start looking now, seeing what fellowships are offered by various archives or institutions that you think you might want to visit.  My university subscribes to a program that allows faculty to receive daily listings of grants related to our areas of research.  I have been receiving these daily emails for years and keeping a list of them tagged in my Delicious account.  Feel free to start with my list, but know that most of the things on it are, of course, related to my research interests and location in the northeast.  Keeping track of what is out there now will give you a better sense of when different organizations have their deadlines and what they expect applicants to put in their applications.
  • Do not ignore the emails your own university sends about possible programs.  This may sound a bit ridiculous, but it’s become very true for me in recent months.  I received the fellowship I have because my university takes part in NYU’s Faculty Resource Network.  Each year, my university sends an email to all faculty reminding us of our membership and what the program can offer us.  I have known about and planned to apply for this fellowship for years.  However, when several colleagues heard I was going to be living at NYU for the semester, they said, “How did you hear about this program?”  And I answered, “From the email the university sends us every year about it.”  Many of these people said they had trashed the email without reading it thoroughly.  Bad idea.
  • Remember that it may take less work to apply for grants and fellowships than you think.  I found out that I had the sabbatical a few months before the first deadlines I needed to meet for any funds.  At first, I was a little worried about how much time it would take to apply.  I realized, though, that I had already done the bulk of the work in my sabbatical application itself.  I had to write a six-page narrative for that application, and most any of the grants or fellowships wanted was three pages.  Also, my sabbatical application needed a letter of reference, and that person agreed to send a copy of his letter wherever I needed.  It really did not take much time to apply for any of the programs.
  • Remember that you can apply for some grants while on sabbatical.  My sabbatical officially started in July, and I knew about all of the grants and fellowships to which I had applied in April.  There are still a couple of programs that have deadlines this fall for the coming spring when I will still be on sabbatical.  It is only a couple, and they are not for much, but I will see what I can do.

Do you have any other thoughts to share? Let us know in the comments, like usual.

[Creative Commons licensed image by Flickr user TaxBrackets.org]

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