How do I apply for a scholarship?

You can apply for a scholarship by filling out the application form. As part of the application form, you will need to provide a budget for your requested funds by answering questions in the application. Also, letters of support from a teacher and/or retreat center make applications more competitive. These documents can be attached on the final step of the application form.


How can I donate to the scholarship fund?

Donations, which are tax deductible, can be made here.


What is the Open Dharma Foundation and why does it exist?

The Open Dharma Foundation (ODF) is a 501c3 that exists to provide scholarships to silent meditation retreats. It’s inspired by people who think meditation retreats are beneficial if not downright transformative. The reason ODF wants to give scholarships for silent meditation retreats is so that more people have access to experiencing retreat, especially those who without financial support would not be able to attend.


What types of retreats are funded? Do retreats have to be in a certain lineage or tradition?

We fund retreats that are largely devoted to silent meditation practice. We gladly fund retreats with a bit of non-silence, such as chanting, group meetings, etc. We don’t fund retreats primarily devoted to something other than silent meditation, such as scholarly retreats, movement practice, and so on. Retreats in any lineage or tradition can be applied for.


How often can I apply for a scholarship?

Scholarships can be applied for once per year. In rare cases exceptions can be made. If you feel that this may apply to you, please email us at info@opendharmafoundation.org.


Who is eligible for a scholarship?

Anyone in financial need hoping to attend a silent meditation retreat may apply. Some things that make applicants more competitive are demonstrated financial need, a willingness to contribute some personal finances (if available), a history of dedicated and consistent meditation practice, support from sources outside of ODF such as the retreat center or teacher support, and thoughtful, compelling answers to the open questions at the end of the application.


Is there a deadline to apply for scholarships?

Scholarship applications under $300 are received on a rolling basis and have no deadline to apply. All applications for scholarships over $300 are reviewed on a quarterly basis.

Quarterly Deadlines:

  • January 15th
  • April 15th
  • July 15th
  • October 15th


Can scholarships cover more than retreat registration?

Absolutely. If travel, food, or lodging costs would inhibit your ability to attend a retreat, you may include those costs as part of your scholarship application. For example, a scholarship could cover plane or rail tickets, or even a hotel 1 night prior to the retreat if necessary. You can also include $65 total per full day of retreat in teacher dana. A full day is one where both you and the teacher woke up and went to sleep at the retreat. Make sure to define those costs clearly in the budget you submit. In some cases, we may ask you to revise your budget, or we may not be able to fund your full requested amount. We do ask that you be as frugal as possible when choosing retreats and travel options. Scholarships cannot be used to cover costs for lost wages, child care, or pet care.


How does ODF decide who receives scholarships?

Each application is scored by a rubric, and the highest scoring applicants are recommended as scholarship recipients to the Executive Committee. For each deadline, previous scholarship winners are invited to grade the applications, which adds diversity to the grading process for any of the subjective aspects of the rubric. We believe it’s a good idea for people who have needed the scholarship fund in the past to take part in the decision making process for future scholarship recipients. The Open Dharma Foundation’s mission is to help students attend a retreat who couldn’t otherwise afford to go.
Our ideal applicant:

  • Does not have, and cannot easily get, access to enough funds to attend a retreat. This means that we are selecting people who, for a large variety of reasons, can’t quickly choose a life path with access to more funds. Some past examples of applicants who could easily access more funds are people who have substantial retirement savings that they don’t want to tap into or former tech workers choosing not to work (even if it’s to pursue spiritual practice). While of course we cheer on anyone dedicating their life to spiritual practice, this sort of candidate is not the optimal candidate for our entirely needs-based scholarship.
  • Contributes as much of their own funds as possible. As we are giving away free money on the internet, we are always concerned about applicants who would simply prefer to spend someone else’s money to go on retreat, rather than an applicant who truly could not go without support. The ideal applicant is therefore paying as much of their own way as their financial circumstances allow.
  • Requests funds that would go exclusively (or primarily) to retreat centers or teachers. As a way of preventing fraud, we avoid sending money directly to applicants whenever possible.
  • Chooses budget-friendly retreats. While we understand that some people live far away from the nearest retreat and might need a plane ticket, our ideal applicant is applying to a fairly low-cost, no-frills silent retreat, as close to home as feasible. We do make some exceptions if an applicant wants to study with their own teacher and/or sangha and needs to travel a little farther.
  • Is attending a silent meditation retreat led by a teacher. Our scholarships are specifically geared towards silent retreats with a significant amount of meditation hours per day. We don’t fund retreats where meditation is not the primary focus of the retreat, such as yoga retreats, or retreats which primarily focus on group discussion.


Where can I see your stated policies and procedures?

You can see our policies and procedures document here.