Funding decisions announced in September

(updated April 22, 2020)

Over the past decade, the contemplative sciences have grown remarkably, generating new questions across a wide range of disciplines and sectors of society. Recognizing the need for small groups of experts to convene in dialogue about a specific issue in order to deepen their collective insight and make significant impacts, we are pleased to offer the Think Tanks grant program.

Mind & Life Think Tanks are intimate, two- to three-day self-organized gatherings (either in person or online) designed to advance a particular project bridging contemplation, research, and action—with clear and realistic deliverables. These incubator-type meetings bring together multi-disciplinary groups of collaborators including scientists, scholars, humanitarian leaders and changemakers, contemplative practitioners, educators, applied professionals, and others. 

Proposals must demonstrate relevance to the mission of the Mind & Life Institute. We have a particular interest in supporting projects that examine the role of contemplative practices in fostering interconnection, and/or addressing issues of disconnection either at the societal level (e.g., othering) or at the individual level (e.g., loneliness, depression, addiction, trauma). In this context, “contemplative” practices are defined in a broad sense—including various forms of meditation, embodied or movement-based practices, introspection and awareness of mind-body states, reflective writing, contemplative prayer, etc.

Strong proposals will cultivate collaborations between researchers and applied practitioners, embrace multi-disciplinarity, engage leaders and changemakers, have social and ethical relevance, and include diverse participants (in terms of gender, race, ethnicity, ability, geographical location, expertise, etc.).

Grant Information

Grants of up to $15,000 (USD) are awarded annually through a competitive application and selection process; these funds could support travel, accommodations, general coordination, and other aspects of Think Tanks related to the deliverables. The proposed work should be completed within a two-year period. Progress reports are required for grantees to remain in good standing. Applications for the 2020 cycle open on April 1 and the submission deadline is Wednesday, May 27, 5:00pm Eastern Time; grantees will be notified in September. 


The Think Tanks program is meant to bring together leading thinkers, researchers, and changemakers from academia, professional sectors, social activism, and other arenas to catalyze creative advances bridging contemplation, research, and action. Five committed participants/organizers must be in place in order to apply. To encourage integration of research/scholarship and on-the-ground applications, at least one of these five individuals must be actively engaged in research/scholarship, and at least one must be actively engaged in applying this work in the world. Examples of research/scholarship include, but are not limited to: psychology, neuroscience, clinical research, social science, and humanities. Examples of applied work include, but are not limited to: mental health, social activism, medicine, education, contemplative spaces (e.g. meditation centers, yoga schools), and others.

While there are no formal eligibility requirements in terms of degrees or experience, most successful applicants have strong track records in one of the aforementioned areas and the Think Tank proposes to bring together a diversity of perspectives. Underrepresented applicants are strongly encouraged to apply.

Evaluation Criteria

Applications are reviewed and selected by an external committee of experts based on the following criteria:

  • Significance and Impact: The project addresses an important issue with societal relevance, has potential to lead to advancement in the field of contemplative research, is relevant to the Mind & Life mission, and will deliver meaningful/impactful outcomes.
  • Approach/Feasibility: The process and structure of the Think Tank are adequately developed, budget allocation is well thought out, and deliverables are both compelling and feasible.
  • Participants: The five core team members have relevant expertise and are clearly committed to the project. The core team includes at least one researcher/scholar and one individual applying this work in the world. The facilitator(s) is/are designated and fit for their roles. The overall team is multi-disciplinary (representing at least three different disciplines) and diverse. 

Reporting and Deliverables

Think Tank grantees must sign an agreement with Mind & Life, committing to the following:

  • Producing a one- to two-page summary report, due two weeks after the conclusion of the Think Tank meeting
  • Producing a full impact report, including deliverables and outcomes, due two years after the Think Tank is awarded
  • Posting preprints of any resulting publications in a public free repository (e.g., MindRxiv)
  • Acknowledging support from the Mind & Life Institute in all resulting publications or other deliverables.

Think Tank deliverables can be creative and wide-ranging, but must be concrete and specific. Examples include academic publications, white papers, best practices, books or edited volumes, websites, films, curricula, grant proposals, etc.
Please note that Mind & Life may share news and other information about the Think Tanks on our website and social media to benefit the global community.

Think Tanks FAQ

Think Tank Grant Recipients

Think Tank Grant: Post-Award Guidelines (for funded projects)

Application Information

Before you apply, please read the Think Tanks FAQ carefully for important further information about the Think Tank grants. Please prepare the following application materials, to be submitted through the online application portal which will be open from April 1 until 5:00PM Eastern Time to May 27, 2020:

  • Think Tank proposal:
    • Title
    • Lay Summary (150 words maximum)
    • Proposed dates and location/venue
    • Background (300 words maximum)
    • Description of Think Tank planning, meeting, and expected outcomes (300 words maximum)
    • Provisional meeting format, schedule, facilitation, etc.
    • Outcomes and deliverables (e.g., white paper, conference, grant, website, curricular development, etc.) (150 words maximum)
    • Statement on ethics, diversity (institutional, disciplinary, perspective, etc.), global reach, and engaging leaders and policy makers (150 words maximum)
    • Relevance to Mind & Life mission and goals (150 words maximum)
  • Participants
    • Five committed participants/organizers (including applicant), with CVs and letters of support from each, confirming their commitment to the project. At least one must be a researcher/scholar and at least one must be working on real-world applications.
    • 10–20 invited participants, covering a diversity of perspectives and social identities. A minimum of three disciplines and three professional affiliations must be included.
  • Estimated budget

For questions about this grant, please see the FAQ, or contact