The Mind & Life Institute is a non-profit organization committed to building a scientific understanding of the mind and human behavior as a way to reduce suffering and promote flourishing. In particular, we promote the integration of rigorous scientific inquiry with contemplative practices and wisdom traditions by supporting academic and applied work in the contemplative sciences. As part of this mission, we offer a grant program to fund research on novel interdisciplinary approaches for investigating and nurturing wholesome mental qualities related to Prosociality, Empathy, Altruism, Compassion, and Ethics (PEACE).

Programs delivering contemplative training in various settings have expanded rapidly over the past decade. Our knowledge of cognitive, physiological and clinical effects of these practices (particularly mindfulness) has grown steadily, in large part due to the ongoing efforts of the Mind & Life Institute. Today, we look to foster positive change in the world by expanding outward from a focus on awareness-based practices to include the cultivation of ethical, prosocial qualities and actions. To encourage the development of this critical area, the Mind & Life Institute is pleased to offer the PEACE Grants. This funding mechanism supports research projects that advance our understanding of the mechanisms, implementation, and outcomes of contemplative strategies to promote wholesome mental qualities and positive social action. In addition, we encourage the development of measures to rigorously assess these qualities and behaviors in real-world contexts.

Here, “contemplative” approaches can include a wide range of practices that involve introspection and awareness of mind-body states, including various forms of meditation, embodied or movement-based practices, reflective writing, contemplative prayer, and others. Likewise, our use of the term “PEACE” is meant to encompass a range of wholesome interpersonal characteristics beyond the acronym itself (prosocial, empathy, altruism, compassion, ethics), including gratitude, love, forgiveness, sympathetic joy, patience, and presence. Projects do not need to include an actual contemplative intervention, but the research must be able to inform the development of contemplative interventions, or increase our understanding of whether and how contemplative practice might promote PEACE qualities. We encourage research proposals that work across traditional disciplinary boundaries, and use methodological approaches that meet the highest standards of rigor.

Grant Information

Two levels of funding are available through this program: up to $25,000 and up to $100,000 (USD). Grants will be awarded through a competitive application and selection process. Proposed research should be completed within a 2-year period, and annual progress reports are required for grantees to remain in good standing. Applications are reviewed by an external committee of experienced contemplative researchers and selected based on the following criteria:

  • Significance and impact for the field
  • Innovation/novelty
  • Methodological approach/design
  • Quality of the investigator(s), likelihood of success and future contribution to the field
  • Strength of research environment

Research Values and Ethics

Mind & Life is committed to building a rigorous community of interdisciplinary contemplatives, scholars and scientists that integrates diverse perspectives and experiences. Historically, contemplative research has been dominated by a select and largely racially and ethnically homogenous group of scientists, scholars, and practitioners from a handful of academic institutions. This homogeneity reinforces societal imbalances and biases, and diminishes the field’s capacity to adequately understand the human mind and investigate the mechanisms and impact of contemplative practices.

The PEACE Grants program is a natural extension of Mind & Life’s mission to alleviate suffering and promote human flourishing, and reflects our commitment to leading the way in integrating rigorous investigation while also addressing larger societal issues. In line with our desire to expand the scope of our collective inquiry and begin to address existing imbalances, we encourage applicants to:

  • practice sampling transparency by clearly describing participant demographics (including but not limited to age, gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and education level);
  • consider demographics of research staff, those delivering interventions, as well as participant populations;
  • design ethical research protocols that take into account accessibility, cultural norms, and values of all involved;
  • investigate research questions relevant to understudied populations;
  • consider the limits of generalization to other populations, and interpret any conclusions within the specific context of the study.


To be eligible, the Principal Investigator (and Co-Principal Investigator if relevant) must have completed a research doctorate (e.g., PhD, EdD) and have sufficient training, experience and institutional resources to accomplish the proposed work. Mind & Life aims to maximize the benefits of diversity, and to use diversity as a tool for enriching the field of contemplative research. We welcome applicants of all races, classes, genders, ages, religions, physical abilities, and sexual orientations.

Applicants may not be actively funded through any Mind & Life research grant. Current Mind & Life grantees must submit a final report and budget reconciliation for existing grants before applying for a new grant. This policy applies both within and across Mind & Life research grant programs (with the exception of Think Tanks). Note that we do not allow two separate proposals in a given cycle from the same applicant (PI or co-PI), or from different applicants for two aspects of the same project.

Application Information

Letters of intent must be submitted through the online application portal between February 5 and March 4, 2020 (portal closes 5:00 PM Eastern Time on March 4). All applicants must submit a letter of intent to be considered for invitation to submit a full proposal.

The following elements will be required for the letter of intent application:

  • Funding level you will be seeking ($25,000 or $100,000). Grant funds may be used to cover any research-related costs; salary and/or time buy-out is permissible.
  • Project title
  • Lay abstract (150 words maximum)
  • Project description including:
    • Explanation of the overall aims of the research project (300 words maximum)
    • Brief description of the methodological approach, including population, procedures, and analysis (500 words maximum)
    • Significance and potential impact of the work, and relevance to the contemplative sciences (200 words maximum)
  • Abbreviated CVs or NIH-style biosketches of key personnel (3 pages maximum per biosketch)
  • NOTE: In the online portal, the applicant’s name must be the Principal Investigator on the grant—if you are submitting materials for another person, you must create an account in her/his name.
The next application period will open in February 2020.

Grant Policies and FAQ

All applicants will receive email notification by the end of May as to whether they have been selected to submit a full proposal. If selected to submit a full proposal, a detailed request for proposals (RFP) will be sent to you at that time. Proposals for the $25,000 level will be 5 single-spaced pages maximum, and the $100,000 level will be 10 single-spaced pages, each including figures, tables, and references (excluding appendices). Full proposals will be due July 31, 2020; grantees will be announced in November.