State of the Center: Funding a Director of Social Engagement

Cheerful Autumn!

On September 20th Shambhala centers around the world gathered for Harvest of Peace, our annual celebration of autumn. Locally we also marked forty years at 2288 Fulton Street. The day included the Shambhala Sadhana, an oath ceremony for our new Treasurer, Scott Tracy, an update on Center finances, a talk by the Sakyong, stories and pictures from forty years of history, and delicious food, some harvested from members’ gardens.

For those who weren’t there, we are happy to share these updates.

A strong 2014 and 2015 replenished our savings from $9,000 to $37,000, thanks to our generous members, a committed group of volunteers, and staff expenses under $40,000.

We offer five donation-based meditation sessions each week, a growing sangha in Oakland, and numerous programs. Half of the income that makes all this possible comes from fewer than 90 members paying on average over $50 each month.

Our landlords recently offered us a five-year lease. We have been renting month-to-month, and the possibility of a lease—even accounting for yearly increases—offers a great deal of security in a challenging real estate market.

Based on this savings and security, the Center leadership feels that now is a good time to expand our vision. Given our mandate to “create enlightened society,” we seek to offer the teachings of basic goodness and enlightened society to our wider communities. For example, the Chicago Shambhala Center is successfully collaborating with twenty-five organizations to help end youth violence in Englewood. A key to their success is a Director of Social Engagement who focuses on outreach that enriches both Shambhala and its partners. This position also holds core Center responsibilities, relieving pressure from hard-working staff and volunteers.

We are seeking to raise $10,000 in one-time donations in order to fund a Director of Social Engagement for its first year and to support critical activities of Northern California Shambhala and Shambhala International. Additionally, to sustain this position in the long term, we are seeking $625 per month in increased membership dues. That’s only twenty-five people giving less than a dollar a day. Also, through grant-writing, paid programming, and new rentals and membership, within a year we expect this position to be largely financially sustainable.

I am happy to say that we already took a large step towards these goals at Harvest of Peace, raising $2884 in one-time donations, and $180 per month in increased membership dues. That’s already over a quarter of the way to meeting both goals!

How can you help? If you have been coming to the Berkeley Shambhala Center for a few months and value all that the Center provides, we encourage you to become a member. As a member, you will enjoy special benefits while contributing to the Center for as little as $5 each month.

Secondly, please consider signing up for the Sit-a-thon on November 8th, the major way that we will reach our goal.

Finally, if you can’t sign up to sit, you can support one of the sitters here.

Many of us have personally experienced the power of Shambhala teachings. They help us work skillfully with conflict and fear, connect with basic goodness, and hold spaces for meaningful conversations. Successfully raising these funds will allow us to offer our toolkit to other organizations working in education, social justice, or the environment. We invite you to help us in creating enlightened society.



Rees Sweeney-Taylor


Berkeley Shambhala Meditation Center