Policies & Procedures

Pragmatic Dharma Foundation Grant Policies and Procedures


The Pragmatic Dharma Foundation supports awakening for all and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, gender expression, age, national origin, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status.

These policies and procedures are intended merely to set forth general information regarding the Pragmatic Dharma Foundation and the application process. These policies and procedures are subject to change, and nothing in these policies and procedures is intended to create any liability or obligation of any kind from the Pragmatic Dharma Foundation or its directors, officers, employees, agents or volunteers (collectively “PDF”) to any grant applicant or recipient or any third party.  If any provision of these policies and procedures violates applicable law, such provision shall be null and void and given no effect but the remainder of these policies and procedures will continue to apply.

PDF has the right to use any of the information provided in a grant application to evaluate the application, and the information may be viewed by PDF directors, officers, employees, agents or volunteers.  PDF may use application data for any purposes relevant to PDF’s mission.


PDF has absolute discretion to award grant funds based on any criteria it determines to utilize.  PDF may award any amount of grant funds, or no funds, over any particular time period, in PDF’s sole discretion.  Grants generally will be given to support recipients attending meditation retreats but may in PDF’s discretion be given to support recipients’ dharma study by other means or for any other purposes relevant to PDF’s mission.

Grants will be distributed by PDF primarily based on financial need.  There is no particular maximum amount for which a student can apply.  However, to the extent possible in light of the applicant’s income, assets and life circumstances, applications that demonstrate that the applicant is willing to contribute funds of their own (if able) generally will be favored.  Grant funds may be used by a grant recipient for any legally permissible expenses that reasonably relate to the retreat that recipient is attending.  Some examples of expenses that the grant may cover are travel (plane, bus, etc.), hotel for one night before and after the retreat if necessary, retreat fees, and teacher payments.  Grants may not be used by recipients for any purpose other than expenses reasonably related to the retreat that recipient is attending.

Declaration of Income and Assets:

The PDF application requests that applicants disclose how much income they declared on their most recent tax return, and their total amount of liquid assets.  “Liquid assets” includes cash in bank accounts and any investments that could easily be converted to cash, including cryptocurrency.  It excludes non-liquid assets (such as real estate) and tax-deferred accounts (such as traditional IRA’s or 401k’s).  PDF reserves the right to request supporting documentation for any statements made by applicant regarding their income, assets or personal financial situation.  Inaccurate reporting, or failure to submit documentation in a reasonable time frame, will result in rejection of the application, as well as the applicant’s prohibition from receiving PDF grant money in the future.  PDF understands that many factors, such as cost of living in the applicant’s city or applicant’s need to provide for dependents, can affect the applicant’s financial situation and ability to contribute to retreat expenses.  Space is provided on the application to explain these circumstances.

Distribution of Funds:

Grant funds will be distributed to recipients directly.  If grant funds are being used by the recipient directly for retreat tuition or room and board, recipients must provide documentation of the receipt of such funds by the retreat center or teacher, preferably before funds are disbursed by PDF to recipient, but in no event later than 30 days after recipient has paid out such funds.  Likewise if funds are being used for travel expenses, recipient should provide receipts or other documentation within 30 days of the travel expenditure.  Recipient is not required to provide receipts for incidental expenses under $75.   

If you are awarded a grant from PDF, the award is not final until you review and sign an agreement and waiver of liability outlining your obligations as a recipient of funds.  

Payment to Teachers and “Dana”:

Generally, meditation teachers are not paid a flat fee but are instead paid “dana,” a donation by the student.  Giving dana is traditionally viewed as a part of meditation practice and an opportunity for both teacher and student.  PDF will include in its grant to recipients a flat fee of $50 per full day (defined as a day in which the student both wakes up and sleeps at the retreat center).  PDF requires that the recipient provide this payment to the teacher during or at the end of the retreat.  We also encourage students to give additional dana beyond this $50 per day if they are able.


If PDF awards a grant to attend a retreat, PDF expects the recipient to make all reasonable efforts to attend (in the absence of serious illness or emergency circumstances).  If a retreat is cancelled or a grant recipient for any reason cannot attend the retreat, recipient agrees to return funds to PDF or to submit a new application to apply the funds for a different retreat.  PDF understands that in extenuating circumstances the amount of refunded money may be less than the amount granted due to cancellation fees, travel expenses already incurred, etc.

Physical and Psychiatric Conditions and Ability to Attend Retreats:

While PDF believes strongly that meditation retreats can be extremely valuable in personal development and in the pursuit of awakening, retreats can also present intense physical and psychological challenges, as meditators spend long hours sitting and standing in silent internal reflection.  The Pragmatic Dharma Foundation does not provide medical or psychiatric advice or treatment of any kind and will not evaluate whether you are mentally or physically capable of attending a retreat and engaging in meditation practice.  If you have any question on the matter, of if you have any history of medical or psychiatric problems, you should consult your physician and/or a mental health professional before attending a retreat.     

Tips for a Successful Application:

PDF generally will favor applications in which:

The student has shown an interest in serious practice;

  • Anything in an applicant’s history that shows that they are ready for, and interested in retreat practice.  Examples include an established personal meditation practice, knowledge and love of the dharma through reading or participation in a local sangha or meditation group, relationships with a teacher, participation in online dharma communities, etc.

The retreat is reasonably-priced;

  • Attending a lower-cost retreat center is preferable,

The applicant demonstrates both financial need and a willingness to contribute their own funds (if able) to the retreat, appropriate to income level

The retreat fits into the general category of pragmatic dharma;

  • PDF grants are intended to be wide-ranging and are not limited to any particular retreat center, meditation approach, teachers, or tradition within Buddhism.  However, PDF grants are intended to support pragmatic dharma practice.  Pragmatic dharma is derived from the teachings of Buddhism but is a contemporary approach that believes that awakening is a real and possible phenomena for regular laypeople who practice ardently.  There are many paths and approaches that may be considered pragmatic dharma.