Going Forward Together:
The Fellowship Program
Dharma Relief 2 (DR2): “Healing Racial Trauma Through Buddhist Communities” is an initiative recognizing Black Dharma teachers/leaders as powerfully positioned to offer healing and support through a Buddhist lens for African-descendant communities in the United States. These teachers/leaders impact the intergenerational, historical, and continuing present-day trauma on African-descended people. DR2, through the generous dāna (donations) of many, is funding five individual Black Dharma Teacher/Leader Fellowships to provide the community and material resources they need to carry on their profound work. Fellows receive a monthly dāna offer of $1,000.00 USD to use as they see fit to best support their livelihood and well being. The fellowships began in October of 2023 and will continue for one year.
Meet Our Fellows
Jean Marie Robbins
Jean Marie Robbins has been a practitioner in the Shambhala lineage in Chicago, Illinois for nearly 10 years. In 2020, during the first year of the pandemic, she and an Internal Family Systems therapist received a grant from Shambhala to design and conduct a workshop called Warriorship and Whiteness, which evolved into the monthly Collective Liberation. Jean facilitates exploring race and identity, racism, bias, and inequity. Most recently, Jean completed meditation instructor training and entered the Vajrayana path with the intention of providing healing and connection for Black youth.
Jozen Tamori Gibson
Jozen Tamori Gibson began Their formal meditation practice in 2004 through Sotō Zen while living in Japan joined by a Theravada practice in 2010. Jozen is a 2021 graduate of the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) – Insight Retreat Center (IRC) Dharma Teacher Training program. With certifications and embodiment studies in Yoga, Qigong, Emergency Medical Technician (NREMT), Indigenous Focusing Oriented Therapy (IFOT) and Complex Trauma, Jozen lives to provide and nourish contemplative body-heart-mind alignment practices and spaces rooted in wellness, anti-oppression and interdependent liberation for all beings. Jozen honors the wisdom and compassion of all teachers, highlighting their mother, Akimi, and Dharma teachers, Monitsu Pamela Weiss and Osho Zenju Earthlyn Manuel.
Pamela Freeman is a licensed clinical psychotherapist who has been in practice over 30 years and is a co-founder of The Black Women’s Health Project in Atlanta. She is a graduate of the Community Dharma Leadership program and the Dedicated Practitioners Program at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. She is a co-founder of Delaware Valley Insight in the Philadelphia Tri-State Area, and is also one of the leaders for a monthly meditation group for people of color in Philadelphia. Pamela aims to expose more people to the benefits of meditation.
Ramona Lisa Ortiz-Smith
Ramona Lisa Ortiz-Smith, MBA, has been practicing meditation for over 25 years and studying the Dharma in the Theravada tradition for more than 15 years. Ramona Lisa considers herself a dedicated lay practitioner of the Dharma. She enjoys scholarly programs and has completed East Bay Meditation Center’s Commit to Dharma Program (C2D3) and Spirit Rock Meditation Center’s (SRMC) Dedicated Practitioners Program (DPP6). Her teacher training includes certification through the Mindfulness Training Institute and completion of East Bay Meditation Center’s two-year Spiritual Teacher and Leadership training. She is also a certified Indigenous Focusing Oriented Therapy (IFOT) Practitioner and is inspired to include earth based indigenous practices in her offerings as a meditation and Dharma teacher. Ramona Lisa is nourished and sustained by long, silent retreat practice. She is a Free Spirit who creatively weaves together real life experiences into her Dharma interpretation and teachings using authenticity, kindness, humor and joy!
Victoria Cary has been practicing Insight Meditation and studying Dharma since 2006. She graduated from Spirit Rock Retreat Teacher Training in September of 2020, and has served as a Community Dharma Leader since her graduation from Spirit Rock’s Community Dharma Leaders (CDL) program in 2016. At that time, she co-founded the San Francisco People of Color Insight Sangha and continues as one of the core teachers. Victoria is particularly interested in the integration of the Mindfulness in everyday life.
Deep gratitude to the following former Advisory Board members, who were instrumental and invaluable in getting this project underway and in facilitating its development:
How to Support
Our vision is to fund an initial cohort of Black Buddhist Teacher/Leader Fellows. This first phase will fund five Fellowships for a duration of one year beginning in October 2023. The Fellows may use the grant as they see fit, for example, for teaching-related expenses and health care, which were voiced as the top concerns in our survey of Black Buddhist teachers and leaders. Our initiative is a pilot project intended to show the impact of supporting Black Dharma teachers and leaders. DR2 is committed to collecting information on the results of the program, and we hope it will lead to future cohorts of Fellows.
One hundred percent of your contribution will directly support this Fellowship program.
We are grateful to the funding agencies, sponsors, and individuals listed at the end of the page. Click here to see our list.
We have reached our goal and raised $60,615 out of our goal of $60,000! We happily continue to receive contributions that will be reserved for DR2 Fellowship needs.
Your contribution will go directly to enhancing resilience for Black Buddhist teachers/leaders and the communities they serve. One may make one-time donations by credit card, PayPal, or Bank Transfer.
Individuals who financially support at any level
Elvin De La Cruz
Patricia Phelan Cabarga
R Amadea Morningstar
Rev Bruce N Teague
Rev SeiFu Singh-Molares
Robbie and Dan Tisch
Ryan Van Wyk
Sandra Medina Bocangel
Terri and Ellis Delaney
Ve Shing Kau
Organizations that support the project
Fellowship Program FAQs
What is the Fellowship?
The Fellowship Program will support an initial cohort of five Black Dharma Teachers/Leaders in their work of offering healing and support through a Buddhist lens for African-descendant communities in the United States. As an important threshold step in this effort, DR2 will provide the cohort of Fellows with: 1) access to material and community support, so they may to continue to develop their mission; and 2) access to liberative resources so Fellows may more deeply understand and heal their own racialized trauma.
Through the generosity of the individuals, agencies, and sponsors listed here, DR2 is funding five individual Fellowships for Black Dharma Teachers/Leaders for a duration of one year, providing monthly dāna of $1,000.00 USD to each Fellow beginning in October of 2023. The Fellows may use the dāna as they see fit to best support their livelihood and well-being. In order to create a shared experience among the cohort, Fellows will attend: i) at least two of three Fellowship circles during the Fellowship year, each a daylong virtual gathering (held on October 7, 2023, January 27, 2024, August 17, 2024); and ii) an in-person residential ‘Deep Time Liberation’ (DTL) retreat in the spring of 2024. Retreat registration and a $300 travel stipend has been generously provided by Insight Meditation Society.
The DR2 Black Dharma Teacher/Leader Fellowship is complemented by free access to a variety of Dharma resources. Two such resources include free enrollment at any retreat or workshop offered by Barre Center for Buddhist Studies and Cambridge Insight Meditation Center. A full list resources will be made available to each Fellow upon the start of the Fellowship.
For more information, click here to watch the DR2 Zoom information session held in March 2023 and here to view the slides. Attendance to this session was not required to apply to the Fellowship program.
Who is eligible to apply?
The primary criteria for the Fellowship is twofold: (1) applicants must identify as descended from African peoples; and (2) applicants must currently be recognized as a teacher or leader in a Dharma community. It is our aim to ensure diverse representation across Buddhist lineages, age, gender identity, geographic location and teaching experience.
How will Fellows be selected?
Teachers and leaders applying for the Fellowship will complete a written application as well as engage in a virtual conference with the selection panel, made up of the Black Dharma Teachers of the DR2 Advisory Board: DaRa Williams, Marisela Gomez, Myokei Caine-Barrett Shonin, and Stacy McClendon (learn more about them here). The selection panel will also engage with references provided by the applicant.
- April 10-30 — applications accepted
- May — applications reviewed
- June — conferences conducted and references contacted
- July — Fellow cohort selected
- August — Fellows announced
What is expected of the Fellows?
In order to create a shared experience among the cohort, Fellows commit to attend: 1) at least two of the three Fellowship circles offered during the Fellowship year (held on October 7, 2023, January 27, 2024, August 17, 2024), each a daylong virtual gathering (dates to be announced at a prior information session); and 2) a residential ‘Deep Time Liberation’ retreat.
Fellows also commit to engaging in feedback exercises throughout the program to highlight the impact and efficacy for Teachers/Leaders and inform future related projects.
What are the program goals?
The goal of the Fellowship Program is to foster the development of the liberative mission of Black Dharma teachers: addressing the impact of intergenerational, historical, and continuing present-day trauma on African-descended people by offering healing and support through a Buddhist lens for African-descendant communities in the U.S. The Fellowship Program supports this goal through the provision of material and community support, so Fellows may to continue to develop their mission, and, in parallel, through access to resources so Fellows may more deeply understand and heal their own racialized trauma. Fellows may then be supported to continue to pass on their healing wisdom to their communities.
How is the Fellowship dāna dispersed?
Monthly dāna of $1,000.00 USD is provided to each Fellow via direct deposit for one year, beginning in October of 2023.
How did this program come about?
In response to a flood of horrific racial attacks, Dharma Relief brought together a wide spectrum of Buddhist teachers, centers, and temples in the United States to collectively heal the impact of racialized trauma against Black African-descended people. This new initiative was thus named Dharma Relief 2.
I have a question that's not answered here.
Please contact the Program Director of DR2, Stacy McClendon, at email@example.com.