Challenging Injustice, Advancing Human Rights

The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee advances human rights through grassroots collaborations.

Rev. Dr. Hope Johnson Sabbatical Fund for Religious Professionals

Hope Johnson; chalice; UUSC logo


In loving memory of the Rev. Dr. Hope Johnson, UUSC is establishing a sabbatical fund to provide support to progressive religious professionals interested in deepening their learning and engagement in social justice and human rights

This funding is designed to offer progressive religious professionals, during a sabbatical period or other significant learning time, the opportunity to deepen their connection to justice work within one (or more) of UUSC’s three justice priority areas: migrant justice, climate/disaster justice, an international justice and accountability. Candidates can take on new work, deepen work they’ve put on hold, or continue existing work to deepen their understanding of equity, justice, and human rights, as it strengthens their individual justice ministry. Funding awards are $5,000–$10,000 grants to put towards this work. 


UUSC’s mission is to advance human rights and social justice around the world, partnering with those who confront unjust power structures and mobilizing to challenge oppressive policies. Our work is grounded in the belief that all people have inherent power and dignity.

We focus our work on intersecting roots of injustice to defend rights at risk due to criminalization and systemic oppression of people based on their identity. We support self-determination and defend the rights of people displaced due to climate, conflict, or economic hardships; and we respond to humanitarian crises as partners with people whose access to aid is most limited. UUSC strives to center the voices of people most affected by injustice, creating eye-to-eye relationships with frontline grassroots organizations and movements across the world that support communities as they determine the pathways to their future.

UUSC is pleased to offer this opportunity for religious professionals who support this vision to engage more deeply in the work of advancing justice. We are especially honored to recognize the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Hope Johnson, whose life was a testimony to the power of radical trust, relentless work for justice, and uncompromising love.


About the Program

In addition to the funds, recipients will have access to curated tools and resources online to support their leadership, as well as to encourage rest and reflection throughout. Recipients will also be invited to join regularly scheduled calls with other recipients for community building and peer mentorship.

Selection Process

The selection process consists of two rounds:

Round 1: Open Application Period – Candidates are invited to submit a written narrative, budget, and letters of recommendation before the deadline to be considered for the funding program. Incomplete applications and applications received after the deadline will not be considered.

Round 2: Finalist Interviews – A subset of applicants will be invited to participate in interviews with the review committee. Alongside the interviews, applicants will be asked to submit two to three letters of recommendation. Fund recipients will be selected and notified at the conclusion of all interviews. Interview questions will be shared ahead of the conversation, and there will be an opportunity for the applicant to ask questions. 

How to Apply

Candidates must submit the full application before no later than Friday, April 28, 2023. Late submissions will not be accepted. Please send application materials to:

The application is made up of two sections:

  1. Essay Questions
  • What drew you to a faith-based profession?
  • Describe the connection between your faith and your justice work.
  • What is the work you’d like to pursue and why? Describe what drew you to this work and the values that led you to act. Be sure to include if you are joining an existing organization’s work or building new programming.
  • Describe the community that your justice work is serving.
  • What does partnership and/or collaboration look like within your justice work?
  • What values do you share with this community and any partner organizations and why are they important to you?
  • How will pursuing this work impact the community you serve?
  • How does this work bridge your passion of faith and justice?
  • Budget – Using the template provided, please let us know how you plan to utilize the funding. Your budget will not be evaluated – this is only provided as a tool for you to reflect! It’s okay if your plans change over the course of the program.


Applicants must:

  • Be a religious professional – Individuals employed full-time or part-time by a religious institution, including places of worship, or a faith-affiliated justice organization
  • Believe in progressive values – for instance: The Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism
    • Applicants DO NOT need to be Unitarian Universalists
  • Willingness to follow UUSC’s Guiding Principles

Selection Criteria

  • Strength/quality of connection to justice work, including past experience
  • Applicant’s expression of their connection to faith and justice
  • Clarity and impact of justice work
  • Strength of connection to impacted community


  • Program work must fall within the following justice areas: migrant justice, climate/disaster justice, an international justice and accountability.
  • Work must be connected to their ongoing justice ministry—or there’s a clear connection to how work will be implemented in the future of their justice ministry.
  • Participants must agree to join monthly calls or submit written updates on their work for the duration of the program. 


Please submit applications and direct questions to