To support the use of contemplative approaches by grassroots change-makers addressing urgent community needs, Mind & Life is launching a new Contemplative Changemaking Grants program in 2022.

The Contemplative Changemaking Grants, of up to $10,000 for a 2-year period, will fund small-scale, impact-oriented work undertaken by individuals, community workers, and non-profit organizations that ground themselves in contemplative practices to achieve real impact in people’s everyday lives. 

Inspired by the Francisco J. Varela Research Grants—established by Mind & Life in 2004 to support scientists and scholars conducting contemplative research—the Contemplative Changemaking Grants are envisioned as a critical component of Mind & Life’s work to “inspire action toward flourishing.” Through these grants, we seek to encourage the expansion of contemplative practices and their benefits beyond the individual and into the community. Given the unprecedented challenges of our time, proposals will be encouraged across broad domains, including civic engagement, climate action, economic empowerment, education, physical and mental health, and social inclusion. Our hope is to support those seeking to integrate contemplative approaches into their work as a means of building resilience and agency for their community.

The impact of the grants—and the stories that emerge from these projects—will help to increase visibility and momentum around the role of contemplative practices in promoting positive social change.  

Eligible Contemplative Approaches

The Mind & Life Institute defines contemplative practices in a broad sense—including various forms of meditation, mindfulness, compassion, loving-kindness, gratitude, introspection and awareness of mind-body states, reflective writing, contemplative prayer, and embodied or movement-based practices such as yoga, qi-gong, and other indigenous and traditional practices from various contexts and cultures that may include dancing, drumming, and more. (Please contact us beforehand if your project involves practices not listed here.)

Eligible Projects

These grants will fund projects that support contemplative changemakers in transforming lives and communities, using contemplative practices as anchors or instruments for transformative action that radiates outward—beyond the individual—to promote healing, ameliorate suffering, or positively transform lives. We are particularly interested in projects that focus on community and relationship building that can continue to serve people beyond the 2-year grant period.

Who is Eligible to Apply

To be eligible for a Contemplative Changemaking Grant, the applicant must have attended the Mind & Life Summer Research Institute within the last ten years. For 2023 applications, one must have attended the Mind & Life Summer Research Institute in Garrison, NY or online in the last 10 years  (2013 – 2022), or the 2018 International Research Institute in Kyoto, Japan. (Note: European Summer Research Institute attendees are not eligible.) Priority will be given to projects led by emerging contemplative leaders (18–30 years of age) and those who identify as belonging to marginalized groups (such as Black, Indigenous and People of Color, or BIPOC, in the US; People of the Global Majority; and so on).

Priority will also be given to projects that serve traditionally underserved and underrepresented groups in contexts and spaces where the projects are taking place, such as countries and communities in the global South, where funding has historically been less available for activities and scholarship grounded in contemplative practices.

How to Apply

Applications for this inaugural grant cycle will be open from November 2022 to January 2023. Applications will undergo a competitive review and selection process. Awardees will be notified in May 2023.

More information will be provided by Fall 2022.