Since 1988, the Alston Bannerman Fellowship has honored and supported longtime organizers of color by giving them the resources to take time out for reflection and renewal. Fellows receive a $25,000 award to take sabbaticals for three months or more.

The deadline to apply for the 2012 Alston Bannerman Sabbatical Fellowship is June 15, 2012.

Download the Alston Bannerman Sabbatical Fellowship Information Sheet

Download a Microsoft Word version of the application

Download a PDF version of the application


  • Chung-Wha Hong, New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), New York, NY
  • Barbara Poley, Hopi Foundation, Kykotsmovi, AZ
  • Jamala Rogers, Organization for Black Struggle (OBS), St. Louis, MO
  • Kabzuag Vaj, Freedom, Inc., Madison, WI
  • Marcos Vargas, Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE), Ventura, CA
  • Gina Womack, Families & Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC), New Orleans, LA

Why a sabbatical for organizers?

The Center for Social Inclusion recognizes that working for social change usually means long hours at low pay with few tangible rewards and few escapes from the day-to-day pressures. Without time to rest and reenergize, the pressures can prove overwhelming and result in a loss of creative and critical leadership. The Sabbatical Fellows receive a $25,000 award to take three months off for reflection and renewal.

How do Fellows use their sabbaticals?
Alston Bannerman Fellows use their sabbaticals however they think will best prepare them for the work ahead. Fellows commonly spend the time and resources to travel, study, visit with other activists, read, write, acquire new skills, plan, evaluate, explore new interests, spend time with their families, recover their health, and restore their spirits.

Who are the Fellows?
Since its founding in 1988, there have been 202 Alston Bannerman Sabbatical Fellows whose work addresses a broad range of issues—from workers rights to environmental justice, from immigrant rights to native sovereignty, from affordable housing to education reform. Fellows have come from 32 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam.

What impact does the Program have?
Alston Bannerman Fellows strongly affirm the value of stepping back for a period of reflection and renewal. Sabbaticals strengthen organizational planning and leadership development, encourage innovation and collaboration, promote the value of reflection, and foster connections between organizers and organizations. By reinvigorating experienced grassroots organizers and encouraging younger ones to see organizing as a long-term career, the Alston Bannerman Fellowship helps build the necessary infrastructure for systemic and sustainable change.

How are Fellows selected?
Fellows are selected through an annual application process. The Selection Committee is comprised of leaders from around the country working in or for communities of color.

Who is eligible to apply?

To qualify for an Alston Bannerman Sabbatical Fellowship, you must:

  • be a person of color
  • have more than 10 years of community organizing experience
  • be committed to social change work in communities of color
  • live in the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa or U.S. Virgin Islands

Beyond the basic eligibility criteria, the Alston Bannerman Program seeks applicants whose work:

  • attacks root causes of inequity by organizing those affected to take collective strategic action;
  • challenges the systems that perpetrate injustice and effects institutional and structural change;
  • builds community capacity for democratic participation and develops grassroots leadership;
  • acknowledges the cultural values of the community;
  • creates accountable participatory structures in which community members have decision-making power;
  • contributes to building a movement for social change by making connections between issues, developing alliances with other constituencies, and collaborating with other organizations.

The Alston Bannerman Program distinguishes between organizing, services, and advocacy and believes that organizing low-income people at the grassroots level is an indispensible part of successful social change.

The Program does not make awards to individuals:

  • who exclusively provide services, such as substance abuse counseling, after-school programs, HIV-AIDS outreach or shelter for the homeless; or
  • who advocate on behalf of a community without directly involving the members of that community in asserting their own interests and choosing their own leadership.

We do recognize, however, that organizations and leaders combine services, advocacy, and organizing. Providing services as a companion to organizing will not disqualify an applicant for the Sabbatical Fellowship. Similarly, we know that cultural work can be part of an organizing process. In such cases, applicants must demonstrate that their work has a direct and close connection to organizing, leadership development and democratic participation.
We also recognize that organizing is a full-time job for some, but for others it is voluntary work done outside of their employment. Both paid and unpaid leaders are eligible to apply.

What are Fellows required to do?

  • Fellows are required to stop their day-to-day work activities for at least three consecutive months and devote that time to activities that are substantially different from their normal routine.
  • Fellows are expected to attend pre- and post-sabbatical retreats.
  • Fellows must begin their sabbaticals within one year of the awarding of the Fellowship.
  • Fellows must report on their sabbaticals within four months of their completion and describe what they did, what they learned on sabbatical that will improve their leadership, and what impact the sabbatical has had on their work.

Selection Process Timeline

Download the Alston Bannerman Sabbatical Fellowship Information Sheet

Download a Microsoft Word version of the application

Download a PDF version of the application

  • Applications must be postmarked by June 15, 2012
  • Applicants not selected as finalists will be notified by email or postcard.
  • Finalists will be interviewed by telephone.
  • Fellows will be selected by the end of September 2012.


  1. June 16, 2014 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    Hi, I just wanted to ask if you still hold the sabbatical?

    • dchin's Gravatar dchin
      June 20, 2014 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

      Hi Ernesto. Unfortunately, we are no longer continuing the sabbatical.

  2. Richard Ochoa's Gravatar Richard Ochoa
    January 12, 2015 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    would like to know where to find a grant that helps activist?

  3. Khalil Alston-Cobb's Gravatar Khalil Alston-Cobb
    November 12, 2015 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Dana Alston was my mother. Just looking for more information on her and what she was working on before she passed.

  4. February 5, 2016 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    I was wondering if the program will ever open again. If not, could you reffer us to a similar program?
    Thank you very much.
    Ramon L

    • dchin's Gravatar dchin
      February 22, 2016 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

      Hi Ramon. For the time-being, the program is closed, though we would very much like to revive it in some form again. In the meantime, I would look at the Windcall Institute.

      Dennis Chin, CSI

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