The Mosaic Project $25,000.00 Grant Recipient

The Mosaic Project
The Mosaic Project
Lara Mendel
Executive Director & Founder
The Mosaic Project
Oakland , CA

About The Mosaic Project

The Mosaic Project works toward a peaceful future by uniting children of diverse backgrounds, providing them with essential community building skills, and empowering them to become peacemakers. Since 2000, Mosaic has provided more than 44,000 individuals with immersive, experiential-education programs in diversity, empathy, and conflict resolution. 

The Mosaic Project’s principal program is a 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, Mosaic’s addresses issues of difference and builds self-esteem and community. Mosaic creates micro¬cosms of the just, diverse, inclusive world we envision, demonstrates that peace is pos¬si¬ble, and inspires action. 

Lara traces the idea for Mosaic back to her participation as a teenager in a summer camp that addressed issues of difference. This experience convinced her that waiting until people are in high school to address issues of difference is waiting far too long. She noted that prejudice, fear, and anger had already become so entrenched in some of her peers that violence easily erupted. She became determined to someday reach out to younger students to address diversity issues in a positive way and prevent prejudice, fear and anger from taking hold.

This determination was strengthened during a college program which brought Jewish students to Germany. Meetings with former Nazis, as well as visits to concentration camps where members of her extended family were killed, solidified her commitment to fight all forms of hatred.

After graduating from Stanford in with a B.A. and M.A. in Anthropology, Lara worked for 10 years in cross-cultural and environmental education as well as in violence prevention before founding The Mosaic Project in June, 2000.  Lara is an avid traveler, experienced backpacker and a black belt in Kajukenbo Kung Fu.