Description of Organization
The founder and Spiritual Director of Zen Peacemakers, Roshi Bernie Glassman, was internationally recognized as a pioneer of the Zen Buddhist movement in America and was one of the founders of socially engaged Buddhism and social entrepreneurship. He based his life’s work on a commitment to service, born from his practice and mastery of the 2500-year-old tradition of Buddhist compassion and wisdom.
Bernie Glassman created the Zen Peacemakers in 1980 to embody this commitment in a global network of 60 centers, affiliated with the Mother House in Montague, Massachusetts. What characterizes the socially engaged practices of Zen Peacemakers is how they extend Dharma practice from the meditation hall to the worlds of business, social service, conflict resolution, and environmental stewardship. Zen Peacemakers practice socially engaged Buddhism to transform individuals and communities, and has responded to some of the most difficult problems of our time – poverty, AIDS, homelessness, and a lack of skills necessary for employment.
The central project of the Zen Peacemakers is to establish Zen Houses, residential Dharma centers devoted to providing social services for under-served and impoverished peoples. In 2009, Peacemaker graduated its first cohort of Resident Trainees and opened its first Zen House. To support this effort, the Maezumi Institute, the study and training center of the Zen Peacemakers, offered a Residential Ministry Program for Leadership in Socially Engaged Buddhism to provide leaders and staff to run the Zen Houses.
In 2022, a grant in the amount of $8,000 was awarded to assist in engaging a Bearing Witness retreat focused on 400 years of racism and persecution of Black Americans. In May 2022, we held a retreat based in Birmingham, Selma and Montgomery, Alabama. We are planning to further develop this retreat in April 2023. We still consider this a new program offering, as we are learning and adjusting, and we will benefit greatly from Lenz Foundation support. Our 2023 Bearing Witness Retreat will be five nights in Alabama, with up to 50 attendees and leaders.
As a result of our 2022 event, we have local connections in all three cities, with the City of Selma, with Brian Stevenson’s Equal Justice Initiative and the Peace and Justice and Legacy Museums in Montgomery, and with a Partnership Manager from the National Park Service connected with the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail and the Tuskegee Airmen site. We are in the planning process for 2023, but our event will once again feature meditation at various sites, Way of Council practice daily, silence, local speakers and a service project (This year we did a cleanup under and near
the Edmund Pettus Bridge).
In 2021, a special COVID-19 Operational Grant of $10,000 was awarded to create, market, and evaluate virtual Plunges. These Plunges highlighted timely and challenging topics, including examinations of genocide, racial injustice, indigenous, immigrants, the prison industrial complex, militarization, and climate crisis. Funding supports operational expenses associated with developing and maintaining an online Bearing Witness environment, including design and implementation, media creation, marketing, staffing, and outcomes research. The COVID-19 Impact: Due to Covid-19, Zen Peacemakers faced the challenge of stabilizing and sustaining the Bearing Witness Program, an essential manifestation of Roshi Bernie’s vision, while operating at a significant loss due to the cancellation of in-person retreats.
In 2009, a grant in the amount of $15,000 was awarded to assist for the underwriting of Zen Peacemaker’s August, 2010 Symposium for Western Socially Engaged Buddhism. During the one week period, leading Western socially engaged Buddhist activists, academics and sponsors addressed special topics in the practice of Socially Engaged Buddhism, such as social service, social justice and activism, conflict resolution, compassionate care, prison work, ecological advocacy, social entrepreneurship, mental health, wellness and body-mind healing practices, and arts as social activism.
In 2008, a grant in the amount of $50,000 was awarded to develop a ten-month Zen House residential training program at The Maezumi Insitutre, in socially engaged Buddhism. The curriculum included financial and managerial skills, social service interventions, and communications.
In 2007, a loan in the amount of $190,000 was awarded to consolidate and refinance short-term debt and to provide for adequate cash flow to both stabilize current financial operations and to support fundraising efforts. This note was converted to a grant in 2010.
In 2007, a grant in the amount of $250,000 was awarded to support the development of increased capacity for staffing, operations and fundraising activities for the Maezumi Institute, PathMaker Partnership and Zen Peacemakers Organizations.
In 2006, a grant in the amount of $200,000 was awarded to finance a financial rescue package to support continued operations and pay down immediate debtors.
In 2005, another grant in the amount of $100,000 was awarded to provide for a portion of the start-up costs for the development of a residential educational/treatment school for at-risk youth. The Golden Wind School utilized dharma-based trainings and practices.
In 2005, another grant in the amount of $50,000 was awarded to develop the conference event, Zen and Civic Leadership: Government, Business, and Civil Society, at the House of One People (HOOP) in October 2005. This event explored the relevance and importance of Zen Buddhist teachings and practices to leaders in American society, with particular emphasis on the contemporary American workplace.
In 2005, a grant in the amount of $25,000 was awarded to complete the remaining carpentry, electrical, sprinkler system and carpeting work that was required to complete the House of One People of the Maezumi Institute for the purpose of obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy. The House of One People hosted conferences, events workshops and retreats whose purpose was to promote American Buddhism as taught by Roshi Bernard Glassman and other leading figures in the American Zen Movement.