Applications for the 2023 Grant Cycle are now closed.

The Mind & Life Institute seeks applications for its Contemplative Changemaking Grants, which support the use of contemplative approaches by grassroots changemakers addressing urgent community needs. The Contemplative Changemaking Grants, of up to $10,000 (USD), 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. 

Building upon the Francisco J. Varela Research Grants—established by Mind & Life in 2004 to support scientists and scholars conducting contemplative research—the Contemplative Changemaking Grants support contemplative changemakers in transforming lives and communities. For example, we know that young climate activists globally struggle with a profound sense of loss, frustration, and anxiety in the face of failed leadership around this issue. 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.

Given the unprecedented challenges of our time, the Contemplative Changemaking Grants are a critical component of Mind & Life’s work to “inspire action toward flourishing.” The impact of the grants—and the stories that will emerge from these projects—will help to generate visibility for and momentum around the role of contemplative practices in generating positive social change.   

Through these grants, we seek to encourage the expansion of contemplative practices and their benefits beyond the individual and into the community. Proposals will be encouraged across broad domains, including civic engagement, climate action, economic empowerment, education, physical and mental health, and social inclusion.

Project Eligibility

For the purpose of this grant program, we define Contemplative Changemaking Projects as: 

Projects that use contemplative wisdom to help alleviate the suffering of others and promote healing and positively transform the lives of multiple others

We are particularly interested in projects that support relationship building and that will continue to serve the communities in which they are established.

Projects must be:

  •  Anchored in one or more contemplative wisdom practices
  •  Activity based and impact oriented
  • Reach beyond the individual well being of grantees to serve a larger community

Contemplative Wisdom Practices

At Mind & Life, we describe contemplative practices in a broad sense—including various forms of meditation, embodied or movement-based practices (e.g., yoga, qi-gong, dancing, drumming and other indigenous/traditional movement practices from various contexts and cultures), introspection and awareness of mind-body states, nature-based mindfulness practices, reflective writing, and contemplative prayer.  Please contact us prior to the application deadline for other practices not listed here. Please contact us prior to the application deadline for other practices not listed here.

Applicant eligibility 

To be eligible for a Mind & Life Contemplative Changemaking Grant:

  1. Applicants must be individuals applying in their own name, or on behalf of a local community-based nonprofit organization (including universities) and social enterprises. For-profit ventures or businesses are not eligible. 
  1. Mind & Life firmly believes in bringing together diverse disciplines and perspectives to ground the application of contemplative practices for real world impact. Towards this end, selected grantees who have not attended the Mind & Life Summer Research Institute within the last ten years will be requested to attend the 2025 Summer Research Institute. Please note that this is not a requirement. Scholarships will be awarded on a case by case basis. 

Priority will be given to projects led by emerging leaders (18-30 years of age) and those who identify as belonging to marginalized groups (e.g. BIPOC in the US, BAME in the UK), for projects that serve traditionally underserved and underrepresented groups in contexts and spaces where the projects are going to be implemented. 

Priority will also be given to proposed projects that are based in countries and communities where funding has historically been less available for activities and scholarship grounded in contemplative practices. 

Grant Information and Review Criteria 

Grants of up to $10,000 (USD) will be awarded through a competitive application and selection process. The proposed project should be completed within a two-year period, and periodic progress reports will need to be presented as required by Mind & Life. 

Applications will be reviewed by an external committee of experienced changemakers, contemplatives, and researchers and will be selected based on the following criteria:

  • Relevance to the Mind & Life Institute Mission and Values: Proposals must demonstrate relevance to the mission of the Mind & Life Institute and align with the values of the organization. Learn more about our history, mission, and values. 
  • Reaches historically underserved communities: Projects should be equity centered and serve traditionally underserved communities in the contexts and spaces they are implemented in. 
  • Expected outcomes and impact: Project proposals should outline the short-term outcomes in communities that they serve and explain anticipated long-term impacts. 
  • Feasibility: The proposal should justify the following: 1) The project is based on activities that lead to the desired outcomes and anticipated impact, 2) The project time frame is realistic and within the boundaries as specified in this RFP, 3) The budget is adequate and justified, 4) The applicant (individual or organization) demonstrates the capacity to implement the project within the required two-year time frame and within the expected budget. 
Regulations/Contingencies/ Conditionalities:

Funds are available for project-related expense categories, such as reasonable compensation for project-based staff, professional fees, all project-based logistical and equipment costs, etc.

Funds are NOT available for the following:

  • Salaries or stipends for project directors or permanent positions in organizations who aren’t directly involved with the project.
  • Tuition, higher education scholarships for students and participants.
  • Building funds, construction, or renovations.
  • Travel expenses for activities not within the scope of the project.
  • Personal expenses, shelter, or life, medical and health insurance.
  • Previous expenditures, deficits, or loans.
  • Creating or providing grants to other organizations.
  • Copyright or attorney fees.
  • Fundraising activities.

(Please note that this is not an exhaustive list and proposed itemized budgets will be reviewed on a case by case basis. Please reach out to us prior to application if you have questions about expenses that might not qualify for funding) 

More information about Grant Contract and funds disbursement and reporting protocol are  provided in the grant agreement guidelines. Mind & Life regards acceptance of a grant as a contract requiring fulfillment of the terms and conditions outlined in the forms specified in the grant agreement. 

Please reach out to with any questions well in advance of the application deadline.

PLEASE NOTE:  There are restrictions on US funding to certain regions in the world. Mind & Life is a US-based organization, please make sure there are no restrictions on US funding in your location. More information on US financial sanctions can be found here.

Application Information

To apply, please submit the following information through our online application portal. The application system will require you to create an account before applying for the grant. The portal includes forms to collect the information below. Please create your online application and review the forms well before the deadline to ensure a smooth process. Applications missing any required materials or containing materials outside of page limits may not be reviewed. 

  1. Eligibility: Confirm that the applicant meets all the eligibility requirements as outlined above.
  2. Applicant Information: Basic demographic and contact information for the applicant. 
  3. Qualifications of the Project lead and other project personnel: Identify the person responsible for the project and other relevant leadership and implementation staff. Briefly outline the experience, education, and skills that qualify them to direct the project. In addition, list other staff and individuals who will work on the project. Describe their roles and qualifications. (300-word limit)
  4. Organizational or Individual capability: Briefly describe the organization or individual’s capability to carry out the project. What other projects have they planned and implemented that have prepared them to carry out this project? If this is their first project, let us know why they think they have the capability to carry out the project. (300-word limit)
  5. 2-3 references are required and are due with the application. Name of  2-3 references with all relevant contact information ( phone numbers, email addresses, relevant websites etc.) who can speak to the capacity and character of the applicant to implement the proposed project are required and are due with the application. 
  6. Project Proposal:
    • Abstract/ Summary: Briefly describe the proposed project. Identify the community served by the project, goal of the project, anticipated outcomes, and relevance of the project to Mind & Life Institute. (150 words)
    • Context of the project: Describe the community served by the project, and the reason for initiating the project. How does your project reach traditionally, historically underserved audiences and build connections with diverse individuals and organizations?  (~400 words)
    • Description, Outcomes and Anticipated Impact: Identify the outcomes of the project. Describe the methods you plan to use to achieve these outcomes and succinctly describe the impact of the project beyond the project timeline (~400 words)
    • Implementation Plan: Outline the project timeline and list planned activities and/or events according to the timeline. Explain how the implementation plan will lead to desired outcomes. Explain how you plan to recruit participants (if applicable) and share information about the project with your community. (~300 words)
    • Community Partners (OPTIONAL): If you plan to collaborate with organizations for this project, please list their names, and for each organization, explain why it is an appropriate partner for the project and its role and level of involvement in the project, and submit a letter of support from each of these partners. (~300 words )
    • Project Budget: An itemized budget for the project must be included and should reflect the costs that will be incurred during the grant period. Justifications should be provided for each item in the budget. If available, details about other sources of your in-kind support and cash funds should be provided. (150 word limit)

Projects that do not adhere to the application requirements or that request funding for prohibited budget items may not be reviewed.


If you have questions about your Mind & Life grant, please contact