Greyston Mandala

The Greyston Story of Successful Urban Community Development: A Model for Zen Houses


Steven Brown, Pres.

The Greyston Bakery was founded in 1982 by Zen Master Bernie Glassman in Yonkers NY. The Bakery produced high end pastries for the best restaurants in Manhattan, provides Brownies for Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream and provides jobs for the poorest members of Yonkers Community. The Bakery has grown into a 6 million dollar business with more than 75 employees.

Success of the Greyston Bakery gave rise to the Greyston Foundation, a 13 million dollar integrated network of for-profit and not-for-profit entities providing jobs, workforce development, low income housing, supportive services, child care, after school programs, comprehensive HIV health care, housing, a gourmet bakery business and community gardens.

Since 1991, Greyston Foundation, has developed over 200 units of affordable housing and $48,597,735 in real estate projects in Westchester County, N.Y. with another $25,000,000 in projects underway.

The Greyston Foundation is recognized as a national model of community economic development and successful “social enterprise” and the Greyston Model became a “Best practice” example of social enterprise and is studied in major U.S. business schools including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford University and New York University. The Zen Houses are based on the Greyston Model.

Greyston Economic Development Programs

Social Enterprise Business Development

Greyston Bakery is a force for personal transformation and community economic renewal. Operating a profitable business, baking high quality gourmet products with a commitment to customer satisfaction. Greyston Bakery provides a supportive workplace offering employment and opportunity for advancement. Our profits contribute to the community development work of the Greyston Foundation.

HISTORY In 1982, a Zen Buddhist meditation group led by a one-time aerospace engineer, Bernard Tetsugen Glassman, borrowed $300,000 to open a bakery to employ his Buddhist students. Within a few years, the Bakery moved to Yonkers and began hiring the chronically unemployed, providing on-the-job training as well as paychecks.

TODAY Greyston Bakery generates more than $8 million in revenues and employs 75 people.  The new bakery was designed by Maya Lin and produces over 18,000 pounds per day of brownies and other baked products.  Greyston Bakery provides the brownie bits used in Ben & Jerry’s irresistible and best selling flavor, Chocolate Fudge Brownie Ice Cream, as well as three new flavors: Dave Matthew’s Magic Brownies, Half-Baked, and Neopolitan Dynamite.

Today the Greyston bakery has become a role model for companies that want to inject some social action into their business.

-CBS News

Greyston PathMaker Program

Greyston’s unique community development approach is based on “PathMaking,” an idea developed from two key Buddhist concepts: mandala (wholeness) and path (transformation).  A mandala represents integration and unity at a given point in time. The concept of path recognizes that individuals and communities evolve over time, and that the different aspects of the mandala – body, heart, mind, spirit and self – are linked in their development.


  • Tolerating Differences (Diversity Training)
  • Tapping into one’s innate wisdom.
  • Functioning as a member of a community


  • Personal Accountability.
  • Personal Health Training
  • Financial Literacy
  • Workforce Preparedness


  • Life Skill Education
  • Communication & Conflict Resolution Skills
  • Training on How to Negotiate “The System”


  • Right Livelihood Skills
  • Citizenship Skills
  • Transforming Suffering into Wisdom

Integration (Relationships)

  • Making & Keeping Relationships
  • Training in Human Sexuality
  • Artistic & Creative Expression

Workforce Development

Employment is the gateway to economic and personal self-sufficiency and Greyston is committed to providing job skills and employment opportunities to the “hard-to-employ”.  Using the Greyston Bakery as a model, Greyston provides the following workforce development programs under the broad title of Workforce Development 2.0:

Adult workforce development: Hard-to-employ adults – those with high barriers to employment success and little or no meaningful work experience due to past history of incarceration, drug/alcohol use, under-education, homelessness, and other issues – are recruited for this program.  The program is comprised of Intake and assessment; Educational Services including technical skills training and “soft skills” training; Long-term Case Management and Advocacy; and Job Placement.

Since most participants have limited resources, they are provided with transportation to attend training sessions both around and away from Yonkers.

Greyston Bakery Apprenticeship Program:  “We don’t hire people to bake brownies, we bake brownies to hire people” has been the Bakery’s “open door” employment philosophy for more than 28 years.  With no pre-screening requirements, all that is necessary to become an apprentice is the desire to work.  The year-long program provides a disciplined and rigorous entry into the world of work.

  • Job Training
  • Alternative Pathways for Young Adults
  • Family Child Care Training

Affordable Housing

Buildings are one of a community’s key assets; their state of repair or decay is an indicator of the economic vitality of the neighborhood and its population.  In the last ten years, the Greyston Foundation has successfully developed $48,597,735 of real estate projects in Westchester County, and has another $25,000,000 of projects underway.

  • Rentals
  • Home Ownership





Child & Youth Services

Since 1991, Greyston has strived to provide high-quality child and youth services to the low-income population we serve.  Today, Greyston offers a nationally accredited Child Care Center and after-school programs, helping families move towards self-sufficiency by providing safe environments for their children while parents work.  One of the most pressing needs in Yonkers is for after-school programming to fill the gap left by the public school system.

  • Child Care Center
  • After School Programs
  • Yo Kidz Program

Health & Family Services

Greyston supports a functional and affirmative lifestyle within a structured healing community by providing supportive housing and a combination of conventional and alternative health care to persons living with HIV/AIDS.  Greyston Health Services (GHS) addresses the special needs of persons living with HIV/AIDS. Greyston believes that healing is a complex process in which the body, heart, mind and spirit all need to be addressed in order to be effective.

  • Maitri Center (HIV Health Center)
  • Issan House (Housing for folks with AIDS)
  • Tenant Services Programs




Urban Gardens Program

Five urban lots are transformed during the growing season into lush gardens where community members gather to grow vegetables and flowers and to socialize with one another. Over 2,000 adults and children will participate annually. The garden projects collaborate with local childcare centers, elementary schools, summer camps, and community organizations to provide environmental education and an opportunity to be in a safe, outdoor environment.

Community Gardens equals positive community outcomes. In addition to beautifying downtown Yonkers, introducing neighbors to each other, and educating children on the environment, Greyston’s Garden’s program provides fresh nutritious produce free of charge for some of Westchester’s poorest and most vulnerable residents. Participation in the Community Gardens program greatly reduces barriers to healthier eating and lifestyle choices.

Greyston Mural

Created by Folks Served by Greyston