PCSE Seed Grants in Action: Report #2 from Dharma Gates

Each year, the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship awards $5,000 seed grants to fund the launch or early-stage growth of a project, program, or venture. Dharma Gates run by Aaron Stryker ’19, Miles Bukiet ’11, Nicholas Antonellis ’17, was one of this year’s winners. This is their second report since receiving funding from the PCSE in March 2019.You can read their first report here.


Much has happened for the Dharma Gates team since May. Aaron has been living at the Ann Arbor Zen Temple where he spends his afternoon working hard on building the back-end legal and technological infrastructure necessary to run a small nonprofit. He is also hard at work with the Dharma Gates team planning and organizing events.


Back End: 

The Dharma Gates team has begun working with a lawyer who specializes in social enterprise and nonprofit consulting on incorporation as a 501(c)3 in the state of New York. We expect to receive 501(c)3 status this winter. Our website is live at Dharma-gates.org, although we are not publicizing it widely. We are in the process of finalizing another grant from the Lenz Foundation for $2500 and have received a private donation of $1000.

We also have two new advisors on our advisory council:

Megan Prager is Compassion Programs Director at UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness and an adjunct faculty member at San Diego State University. Megan specializes in developing and delivering mindfulness and compassion trainings for Fortune 500 and companies, as well as for educational, healthcare, and academic settings. 

Zen Master Bon Haeng is a former guiding teacher of Cambridge Zen Center, where he was abbot for twelve years and lived for fourteen years. He is currently the guiding teacher of Providence Zen Center, Cypress Tree Zen Group, Gateless Gate Zen Center and Open Meadow Zen Group.



This year, we aim to host as many retreats and workshops as possible, building in-person relationships with student groups, as well as compiling online resources for people interested in creating or supporting a meditation group at their university. 

Our second major retreat took place from August 22nd through 26th at the Monastic Academy near Lowell Vermont. Twenty students and recent alumni from universities across the East Coast attended the event which was a resounding success. We have established relationships at many new universities as a result, including Princeton University, University of Vermont, University of Waterloo, Harvard Divinity School, and Yale University 

We are in the process of confirming our next major retreat at Zen Mountain Monastery near Woodstock, NY this winter from January 9 – 12 where we would like to have up to sixty students in attendance. This fall, we have events planned at Breadloaf Mountain Zen Center, the Monastic Academy, Princeton University, and the Cambridge Zen Center. We have also received invitations to collaborate with Great Vow Zen Monastery in Oregon and the Ann Arbor Zen Temple. We are exploring hosting retreats and workshops on the theme of working with despair and effective action with Extinction Rebellion or 350.org.

We are excited about all of the support we have received so far from Monastic communities, students, and funding sources. As we grow and continue to host events, we look forward to developing a clear fundraising strategy to allow Dharma Gates to be sustainable for the long-term and to keep the costs of our events low and allow us to give generous financial aid to low-income students. We also look forward to piloting longer and more intensive retreat experiences and to deepen our relationships to institutions like Wesleyan through offering events and workshops giving students skills to work with overwhelm and despair and act effectively and skillfully in the face of climate catastrophe, economic inequality, and tribalistic thinking. 

To get in touch, email astryker@wesleyan.edu or team@dharma-gates.org