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2020 Top-Rated Nonprofit

The Mosaic Project

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Civil Rights, Cultural & Ethnic Awareness, Education, Educational Services, Intergroup & Race Relations, Race

Mission: The Mosaic Project works towards a peaceful future by reaching children in their formative years. We unite young children of diverse backgrounds, provide them with essential skills to thrive in an increasingly diverse society, and empower them to strive for peace. We create a microcosm of the diverse, inclusive, just world we want to see and show our young students that peace is possible. We seed the future population of middle schools, high schools, and all the venues of adult life with thousands of individuals who have seen a new possibility of what the world can be. Not only are our students inspired to work towards peace, they have been given concrete skills to do so and are empowered to take action.

Results: As of 2019, we have served over 65,000 individuals. - 14,000 4th and 5th graders through our principal program, the Outdoor Project - 2,000 high-school and college-aged students through the Youth Leadership Project - 35,000 students through the In-School Project - 14,000 adults through the Mosaic Consulting Project

Target demographics: 4th and 5th graders, youth 15-22

Direct beneficiaries per year: 6000

Geographic areas served: San Francisco Bay Area

Programs: Our Outdoor School Mosaic's principal program is our unique human-relations outdoor school. This dynamic 4-night, 5-day experience for fourth and fifth graders is offered during the school week. Three classes from schools that differ markedly in socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic make-up participate in the program together, giving the students the opportunity to experience firsthand a diverse setting in which all are welcomed and respected. While typical outdoor schools focus on environmental science, ours addresses issues of difference and builds self-esteem and community. Our students never forget this inspiring learning experience. We reach them before negative attitudes surrounding difference become entrenched and we enable them to live with, learn from, and befriend others with whom they would not ordinarily interact. Together in a beautiful, natural setting, they begin to recognize their commonalities and gain respect and appreciation for the uniqueness of all individuals, including themselves. They are encouraged to overcome ignorance and insecurities which can lead to fear of difference, prejudice, discrimination, hatred, and violence. We provide our students with the profound, personal experience of building an inclusive, egalitarian community across race, culture, and class barriers, empowering and inspiring them to create such communities throughout their lives. Our Supporting Programs In-School Workshops and Assemblies To prepare students for our outdoor school program, we partner with schools to coordinate ongoing in-school workshops and assemblies that begin as early as kindergarten. These programs continue after the intensive outdoor school experience to reinforce lessons learned. The Youth Leadership Project We offer leadership training for high-school students who serve as mentors for the 4th and 5th graders at our outdoor school. The Project's curriculum addresses issues of difference while building leadership skills. The youth leaders undergo extensive training prior to arriving at the outdoor school. Once there, the training continues and they serve as cabin leaders for a session, putting theory into practice. Custom Designed Workshops and Trainings We create and facilitate programs specially designed for educators, classrooms, and youth groups. Popular topics include developing empathy, appreciating differences, positive discipline, assertiveness skills, and addressing bullying. Our Curriculum All of our programs emphasize building self-esteem and community and empower students to create a peaceful future. In particular, we focus on four themes: *The celebration of diversity and awareness of stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination *Respect for and appreciation of self and others *Teamwork and cooperation *Communication and nonviolent conflict resolution (including listening skills, expressing feelings productively, assertiveness, and empathy) Our innovative curriculum is experiential. Learning at Mosaic becomes a magical adventure as the curriculum comes to life through hands-on activities, interactive theater, games, role-plays, discussions, stories, and original songs. Our musical curriculum has received rave reviews and is available on CD.

Community Stories

26 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Client Served

Rating: 5

Mosaic helped my boys grow to know themselves, be themselves, express themselves, and stand up for themselves with the strength of assertiveness instead of aggression. I cannot praise The Mosaic Project enough for enabling my sons to put into practice the life-saving skill of non-violent communication at Mosaic Camp and later in their daily lives. As a single mother of two black boys, one a teenager and another a pre-teen, I am constantly aware that they are using skills they learned in The Mosaic Project to navigate their world with grace and wisdom beyond their years!

I am so grateful I was able to experience The Mosaic Curriculum first hand at family camp. Mosaic Family Camp was life-changing for our entire family. The wild and beautiful setting of the camp and the "gametivities" helped us focus on each other - really hear and see each other. There were many times when I was moved to tears just hearing my sons express their feelings deeply and clearly. I am amazed that since attending The Mosaic Camp my children can genuinely appreciate that, even though I am their mother, I am also human and deserve empathy. This education in practicing empathy along with a 20-year-strong anti-racism curriculum makes The Mosaic Project unparalleled in non-profit organizations for children or adults.

spagheddie

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Too rare are the communities of people who create space for growth and learning. Even more rare are those communities who respectfully allow young people to be themselves as they learn and grow. The Mosaic Project is more than just an inclusive community dedicated to growth and learning, it is a collection of healers.

The Mosaic Project's outdoor education program creates space where both students and teachers play and learn. It is a space where feelings are acknowledged, bias is interrogated and conflict is settled through mutually respectful communication.

I often find myself thinking on the experiences I had at the outdoor program. I consider how my work in professional settings, my personal relationships and my own struggles with my identify have all been impacted by the tools Mosaic helped me hone. I can only begin to imagine how the lives of 4th and 5th grade students have been shaped by Mosaic's powerful curriculum.

I am filled with hope for the future by the knowledge that there is a place where learners of all ages are being empowered to be respectful, open minded and assertive. A place where the challenges of our world are faced by diverse communities coming together. That kind of love and strength cannot be contained. Those who are touched by it become agents of change, making the world a more peaceful place for all of us.

Board Member

Rating: 5

The Mosaic Project is such a great nonprofit that really makes me good about human kind! They help teach children how to interact , be themselves and treat people how they should be treated. Their curriculum seems like it should be common sense, but there is a lot to how they deliver their messages and it changes how kids view the world!

I honestly think that if every child had the opportunity to attend a week of Mosaic, the work would change in a huge positive way (there woudl not be hate in the world, conflicts would be handled in an appropriate manner and we woudl learn how to respect one another.)

Board Member

Rating: 5

The Mosaic Project has never been more important that it is today with all of the racial injustice becoming clear across the country. Mosaic does a beautiful job of bringing together 4th and 5th graders of diverse backgrounds so that they can get to know each other before deep-rooted stereotypes can take hold. Mosaic is truly impacting the lives of all of those they touch, and not only the 4th and 5th graders, but also the youth leaders and their greater community.

Sabrina M.2

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been involved with The Mosaic Project since 2015 and a volunteer and Board Member. Mosaic is doing what I believe to be the most important work in the Bay Area when it comes to empowering youth, parents and adults to take meaningful action toward dismantling systemic oppression, including systemic racism, in a way that is joyful, inspiring, and that works towards simultaneously building systems and communities that are diverse, just, inclusive, and peaceful.

Mosaic does this through hands-on experiential education. Partnering with 25 segregated Bay Area Schools, Mosaic brings diverse students together into the healing and neutral grounds of nature in a week-long, fun-filled experiential education that provides them with skills, tools, and lived of experience empathy, assertive communication, conflict resolution, listening, and embracing differences, through hands-on experiential learning and through observing these skills modeled by a diverse, and compassionate educational team.

My experience as a Board Member at Mosaic is that this organization is well-run and embodies the skills and values that it teaches to children. Mosaic has spent 20 years developing a thoughtful curriculum that leverages the latest research in how to build authentic connection, bridge divides, and build truly inclusive communities.

Every community needs Mosaic. I recommend this organization without reservation.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I've been engaged with the Mosaic Project going on 4 years now and it has been one of the most uplifting and inspiring organizations I ever had the pleasure to encounter. Their mission and message of inclusion, diversity, change and the understanding and mending of the differences and conflict that exist in our communities is absolutely invaluable. The Mosaic Project staff and supporters are passionate for this cause. And the impact they have on the participant kids lives and communities that are touched by their efforts are needed now, in this state of our nation, more than ever. There is so much that the Mosaic Project is accomplishing and so much more to do. The thought of what could be achieved if their efforts were expanded exponentially is incredibly inspiring. May this ship continue to sail on the sea of success.

Board Member

Rating: 5

Experiencing the Outdoor School at the Mosaic Project made a meaningful impact on my life. I learned to see people not based on my preconceived notions of who they were, but truly listened to their story. Everyone has a story to share. The coaching staff at The Mosaic Project are well trained and versed in how to work through the myriad of issues that children and adults are facing. The Mosaic program is unique and very engaging - it gives a framework as instruction and goes through very creative and well-formulated exercises that help draw out underlying issues and biases to the surface. Engaging with children from other backgrounds in a setting that puts everyone on the same playing field is eye-opening. The Mosaic Project makes my heart sing.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter attended the Mosaic project through her school and it was a very positive and impactful experience for her. She came back from the program with a greater respect for people that are different from her and and a genuine enthusiasm for the beautiful and diverse world we live in. Since her attendance I have spoken to many other parents in our school community who all have had similar comments and positive reviews of Mosaic. I have also come to know the leadership of this organization and they are truly amazing people with a passion and drive that is changing the world everyday for the better.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The Mosaic Project was the first organization I've been a part of that is truly dedicated to making the world a better place. Not only do they change lives through social justice education at the outdoor school and corporate trainings, they seem to have a way of touching hearts everywhere they go, with their energetic and fun loving personalities, Mosaic songs, and campfire stories. They certainly have made a huge impact on my life, showing me so much love, allowing me to share my skills and talents, and inspiring me to grow more in this field. Mosaic is family!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a youth leader with Mosaic because I want to empower another generation of peacemakers and to pass down the lessons that inspired me when I was young. Mosaic helped me realize I have the power to make real change in my own communities and inspires me to speak up for what I believe in.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I first heard about the Mosaic Project about 20 years ago, at a family event, from a friend of my daughter-in-law.  As graduates of Stanford, they had both been on a tour of Germany as descendants of Holocaust victims sponsored by the German government. This trip is what inspired the friend, Lara Mendel, to undertake the Mosaic Project.  She felt that children needed to learn about overcoming differences at an early age, 4th and 5th grades, just before middle school.  At the time I thought it was the answer to all the world's problems, and still do. My children were already grown, but my husband and I went up to the camp, at least once a year to see how it's goals were being accomplished.  We took part in some of the children's activities, which I can only describe as magical. We had a wonderful time. All the 'teaching' is through games, songs, age-appropriate discussions, and just living together.  We learned a lot ourselves, and found it much easier than the 'non-violent communication' courses we had been taking. However, getting it out into the world was not as easy as getting 10 and 11-year olds to 'get it'.  So, hopefully, this will help in that regard. Tari Nicholson, Martinez, CA

Albert C.1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been involved with the Mosaic Project for almost 20 years. It's been a core part of building an inclusive and open community or all in the Bay Area. The people in the organization are one of a kind - hopeful, passionate, and the most dynamic changemakers in the world. Highly recommend people check out their grassroots approach to making the world a better place.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I started with The Mosaic Project as a high school youth leader. I went to a very diverse high school, but it was very separated by race. Mosaic was the first time I saw people of all different backgrounds who seemed to genuinely love and support one another. I learned so much about assertive communication and conflict resolution. I still use my Mosaic skills almost every day even though I'm 30 years old now. It's pretty amazing that they have created a program that supports children as young as elementary school students to communicate across lines of difference and feel empowered to help create the peaceful world they want to see. Issues of race and culture can be difficult to talk about but Mosaic works because it is so infused with joy and magic and music. Many of the kids I worked with at Mosaic told me their time at Mosaic's residential outdoor project was the best week of their lives. Thinking back on it, those were some of the best weeks of my life as well.

Kristin H.4

Donor

Rating: 5

I am thrilled with the game changing work of The Mosaic Project. My favorite organization to donate to, as they are creating the change we need to see in our world. By bringing together students from schools from different neighborhoods, united across race and class---uncovering unconscious bias and building bridges, and creating authentic relationships across difference.

I also admire the work they do with corporations to dismantle racism and help improve company practices building positive and inclusive company culture.

The best organization of our time.

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Mosaic Project is a gift to our Planet. I taught 4th grade in deep east Oakland for five years and had the opportunity to bring four of my five classes to the camp. It is absolutely life changing. My students and I learned so much from their curriculum and gametivities and influential soundtrack. From my knowledge, Mosaic is the only organization addressing and explaining prejudice and segregation with 4th and 5th graders (most organizations gear their programming to older students -when the world has already tainted their beliefs). Talking about these real, systemic issues at this age will assist children in navigating through complex situations in a more positive and confident manner, which will ultimately change our world for the better. If you are a parent or a teacher, please look into bringing your child(ren) to the Mosaic. You will NOT regret it. Love you, Mosaic. Forever.

Client Served

Rating: 5

High impact, unique, and very well thought out program. Provides a powerful and valuable model and camp to help raise up humanity. I have seen the impact on my children having attended when young as campers, and participating as counselors when they were in high school.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am extremely grateful to have the opportunity to work with so many wonderful people striving to bring peace to our chaotic world. Mosaic teaches the most valuable, essential, and dishearteningly rare skills to people of all ages and backgrounds, and I am so lucky to be a part of the amazing work they’re doing.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Mosaic has been the most influential program in my life. Everytime I come back from Mosaic I am closer to the person that I want to become. Mosaic gives me hope and motivation to work towards a more just and inclusive world.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My children have attended the Mosaic camps and it has been incredible to see the change in behavior in the household! I have also had the pleasure of attending camp for a night.

In this tumultuous time where people seem to have stopped talking and started judging based on race, creed, color, gender, and gender identity, it is comforting to see a group that is striving to create understanding and eliminate racism.

As an emergency physician, when I am dealing with a trying patient, fellow physician or nurse, I find myself singing some of Mosaic's songs in my head to help me problem solve. We are never too old to learn new ways to communicate respectfully!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I first got involved with Mosaic when I went as a fifth grader. It is was a life changing experience. The last night at the program, we did a solo walk in the dark and then all gathered around to look at the stars. I remember looking up and seeing more stars than I ever had in the city, and this feeling of hope and confidence taking over me. I felt like I could do anything because I now had the tools to communicate with others. When I got into high school, i jumped at the opportunity to go back as a Youth Leader. I have since spend countless hours up at the Camp and time in the office and at events. The Mosaic community is so strong and welcoming, and I have made so many friends and mentors through it.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

This organization is extremely impressive! Leadership is thoughtful and strategic, planning is great, but the most impressive thing to me is the quality of the programs and the staff. Lara has assembled a diverse, talented, energetic, creative, committed and loving staff to work with the children, and she inspires them to come together to work harmoniously as a united team. The curriculum is well thought out and effective, and the results are clear. The Mosaic Project is making the world a more peaceful place.

Review from Guidestar

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Every walk of life has experienced the feeling of wanting to belong and fear of being left out. The Mosaic Project motivates youth to reach to the core of this feeling and learn to embrace self while having empathy towards others. Every walk of life. "It takes a village to raise a child". I will not hesitate to continue to spread the greatness of this organization.

17

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Through my daughter's work with The Mosaic Project, I have seen how it allows a person to find the best in themselves, to bring this to the community, and affect genuine and needed change. As a psychologist who has worked extensively with children, I appreciate the organization's ability to create a safe place for children to examine their beliefs, explore their hurts, and feel supported by a diverse community.

17

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Mosaic Project is by far the most effective community working towards social justice that I have ever seen. Children are the ones who will grow up and affect how the world works. I often think about how Mosaic will affect the world, or even the bay area, twn years from now. When I imagine any situation that I am in, and how it plays out now, I compare it with how it would happen if even half of the people involved went to Mosaic when they were ten. It would change things immensely. Important tools are shown and made available in a way that is creative, not preachy. Reaching children at this age, when small seeds of peace can be planted in their lifeskills garden, is infinitely important. Mosaic does it beautifully.

19

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Mosaic Project is undoubtedly the most inspiring community I have ever been a part of. I first became involved as a high school youth leader about five years ago, and I haven't been able to stay away since. The Youth Leadership Project provided me with the incredibly unique experience of living and working within a community that was more diverse, supportive, and open than any I had ever seen in high school or in the world around me. That experience continues to remind me that a different kind of world IS possible - one in which people from every walk of life can work together authentically and respectfully. Not only did my first experience with The Mosaic Project inspire the 4th and 5th graders that I was mentoring, it was one of the most formative moments in my life.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a teacher that brought my 4th grade students to the Mosaic Project camp in Napa and was blown away by how together the program is. After five days and four nights at Mosaic, my kids came home singing songs like "Fighting is not the solution..." and "We can live in equality, embracing our diversity...." They seemed to have really taken in lessons from games and activities they did on topics like prejudice & stereotyping, conflict resolution, assertiveness, and what it means to be an ally. Not only did the students have a great time, it seems to have made a significant impact on the atmosphere at our school. I would recommend this experience to any teacher and wish all elementary school students could attend Mosaic.