Year in Review
Three areas of focus emerged in DhIA’s first year. These are: (1) economic and social gaps related to women; (2) gaps in student and youth engagement and (3) broader community needs especially the needs of front-line essential workers. These three focus areas incorporate DhIA’s pillars of education, social service, and the arts.
Programs & Initiatives
Women in Dharma: The launch of the inaugural program on Women in Dharma evolved into the Women in Finance series. This is now an integral part of the DhIA agenda with a Women in Dharma Fund. This focus should be grown as we increase partnerships with other institutions who are working on this issue.
Reaching Students & Youth: Our next-gen focus crystallized during the year as we saw the emergence of Dharmalayas at major Universities (places for those of the four traditions to congregate). We have a pilot program developing at the Georgetown University Dharmalaya involving a mentorship lecture series and the provision of nutritious food to students. We are researching where similar activities are underway to develop a scalable model in other universities and colleges. Expect this to become an integral part of the DhIA agenda with the creation of the Youth Engagement Fund to seed these activities.
Meditation and Mindfulness: While already popularized in the U.S., yoga and meditation still need a scientific neuroscience-based approach to apply mindfulness and meditation to the mental health crisis. Programs were run by DhIA with medical workers in upstate New York, the prestigious Johns Hopkins University, and a separate pilot with university students. Scaling this initiative requires a staff, academic research and then a body of practitioners to execute. This will be a significant project for 2022 provided DhIA can develop the necessary infrastructure.
7 webinars conducted with leading experts and practitioners with over 1000 registrants participating. Partnerships developed with International Buddhist Association of America (IBAA), Dharma College, Rotary Club of Madras East (RCME), Vivekananda Yoga University (VaYU), Girls Who Invest and scholars representing the University of Florida, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), and University of Tennessee (Memphis).
3 in-person sessions at Georgetown University regarding entrepreneurship and offering mentorship.
Sponsor of the Inauguration Kolam 2021 project, facilitator of the first White House Vesak event recognizing the Buddhist community and Community Partner for the Diwali Capitol Hill event with Indiaspora.
Response to the COVID pandemic and the crisis from the second wave in India included a major online seminar with the US Surgeon General, fund-raising and identifying and supporting less-known NGOs.
Expanding to serve all Dharmic communities involves engaging them. We have added representatives to the Board from all our traditions and will continue to grow this representation and participation over time.
In 2021 which was a start-up year, we have proven the thesis that DhIA has a role in the eco-system. The goal is to scale these initiatives for 2022 with substantial and recurring support. Given the level of interest our initiatives have generated, that appears feasible. 2022 will shape up as the building year to see what is fully possible and how growth will occur.