About the Inner Strength Foundation

The Inner Strength Foundation was established in 2014 to foster inner strength for outer stability in today’s youth. The joy in our lives, the richness of our relationships, and the promise of our shared future rests on grounded, flexible, curious, and forward-thinking individuals. At the Inner Strength Foundation, our aim is to support the youth of today through mindfulness and the perspective cultural development to be the great leaders of tomorrow.


Board of Directors

]Amy Edelstein, educator, author, and public speaker is a powerful communicator of ideas and beliefs that can help us transform ourselves and the culture we live in. In 2014, Amy founded the Inner Strength Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports over 2000 inner-city teens with mindfulness and cultural development. Based on her 35-years experience with contemplative practice and developmental philosophy, this program uniquely incorporates mindfulness stress reduction with adolescent neuroscience and cultural development so students learn tools to see their experience in a broader context. Currently the subject of a research study by Syracuse University, whose pilot already showed significantly positive results, the Inner Strength teen program is committed to long-term transformation and evidence-based results. Amy is a Cornell University College Scholar, cofounder of Emergence Education which produces transformational books and programs for adults, and author of four books. More at www.amyedelstein.com
Jeff Carreira is a master teacher of philosophy, meditation, and cultural evolution. He is the author of six books on the subject and maintains an active international teaching schedule. Widely considered one of the leading innovative voices in evolutionary philosophy and transformative spirituality, Carreira also has a traditional educational background, holding an M.A. in curriculum development and has taught in the Massachusetts Public School System. He has 25-years experience with contemplative practices and is cofounder of Emergence Education, which creates transformational programming for adults. Jeff serves on the Board of Directors and as a program advisor for the Inner Strength Foundation.
Licensed clinical psychologist, Daniel Cantor works in the greater Philadelphia area specializing in addiction issues. He has served at the Philadelphia Consultation Center, Girard Medical Center, and Key Recovery Center. He is a meditation practitioner and long time student of evolutionary philosophy. Daniel serves as a Board Director of the Inner Strength Foundation.
Sharon Kind brings her expertise and enthusiasm to the ISF Board. She holds an M.A. in Early Childhood Education, is co-founder of Southeast Early Childhood Learning Center, Founder of Yoga Evolution, and longtime teacher of Yoga, and Qigong. She is also an Interfaith Minister and mother of 3 beautiful sons. Sharon also serves as a board member for the Patricia Kind Family Foundation.

Advisory Board

Craig Hamilton, founder of Evolving Wisdom, is a pioneer of evolutionary spirituality and conscious evolution. A powerful educator and innovator of online transformative coursework, Craig has graduates in 50 countries, numbering more than 6,000 to date. Craig is a founding member of Ken Wilber’s Integral Institute, a member of Deepak Chopra’s Evolutionary Leaders Forum, and was a participant in the Synthesis Dialogues, a 35-person interdisciplinary think tank presided over by the Dalai Lama. In his current work, Craig is helping to articulate an authentic evolutionary spirituality—an “integral enlightenment” which illuminates the vital relationship between individual transformation and collective evolution.

Claire Zammit is the co-creator of the Feminine Power courses for women and co-leads a thriving community of tens of thousands of women throughout the world. A highly trained specialist in transformative education, Claire has a unique gift for designing leading edge programs that give participants access to new worldviews which lead to lasting personal change. Claire holds an MA in Social Ecology and is currently completing her doctorate in Transformative Learning & Change at the California Institute of Integral Studies. She is the co-author of the forthcoming book, Feminine Power: Awakening to the Creative Force of Life and co-creator and co-host of the acclaimed Women on the Edge of Evolution teleseries.
Peter is the lead consultant at the Heller Fundraising Group, located in New York City with nonprofit clients everywhere. He has over 25 years experience in the nonprofit world and has raised millions of dollars for many organizations while also making them stronger. Before starting his company in 2004 he worked at Columbia University for 10 years raising major support and becoming the Director of Development for Columbia’s Engineering School. Peter has taught Major Gifts Fundraising in Columbia’s Fundraising Management Graduate Program, has trained fundraisers at The Foundation Center and elsewhere, is Co-Chair of Gotham Networking’s “Make a Difference” group, and is co-executive producer of the award-winning documentary Vanishing of the Bees.
Brendon Jeremi-Jobs
Brendon Jeremi-Jobs is a pioneering teacher and educational leader, committed to transformative education on race, gender, and history. He currently teaches World & African American History, and Sociology in the Philadelphia Public Schools. In 2016 Jobs was selected from over 10000 teachers to advise the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on K-12 Educational Programming. He has been awarded prestigious teaching fellowships and worked as a Lehman Fellow, a National Constitution Center Annenberg Fellow, a James Madison Fellow, and an Education Pioneer Fellow with the SEED Foundation in Washington, D.C. He also received the Dr. Ruth Wright Hayre Teacher of the Year Award and was nominated twice for the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching. He received his M.A. from University of Pennsylvania, and his BS from Columbia University.
Nancy Kelley served as the Founding Executive Director of the New York Genome Center. She led the Center from a start up through its current stage as it became a world-class genomics research center, raising $110 million to do so. Many of NYGC’s foundational elements, such as its Pilot Laboratory at Rockefeller University, the NYGC Innovation Center, and key clinical and technology partnerships, were established under her leadership. Ms. Kelley oversaw the build of NYGC’s permanent facility in New York City and recruited a large scientific and management team as well as several of the Center’s Associate Members. She holds a Doctorate of Jurisprudence from Harvard University and has over twenty years of executive management and board experience in starting, growing, and restructuring organizations, raising capital, recruiting diverse management teams, creating and implementing strategic plans. Nancy serves as an Advisor to the Inner Strength Foundation.

Program Teachers

The following have successfully completed the teacher training for the Teen Program, including mindfulness, cultural development, and primary theories of adolescent neuroscience and are part of our current teaching roster:

Rick Bissonette served for 33 years as a Firefighter and Paramedic. He is a longtime practitioner of mindfulness and cultural development. He leads mindfulness circles online and publishes a newsletter for mindfulness and evolutionary philosophy students. Following his retirement from the Fire Department in Akron, Ohio, he began teaching literacy and mindfulness in schools. He spent three months teaching six full ISF classes in the Philadelphia Public Schools.
Julie Coopersmith has over 15 years experience in Mindfulness and Yoga practices. Julie has studied Mindfulness Meditation, has learned with Patricia Broderick, PhD and Jenny Mills, is a graduate of the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program, and has taken extensive coursework in therapeutic yoga. She has developed programs with Occupational, Physical, and Speech therapists and has partnered with them for children and adolescents in school settings as well as privately. Julie is certified with Yoga Ed for school aged children and with the Yoga Alliance, EYT-500 hours. Julie holds an MBA in Health Care Administration.
Jody Smith Long began her first meditation practice at 14 years old. Over the years her mindfulness practices have been inspired by many teachers, yet her most profound learning has come through direct experience and personal discernment. For the past 15 years, Jody has guided people of all ages into experiences of stillness, insight, and inner strength as an energy healer. She holds a BFA, an MAT in the Teaching of Visual Arts grades K-12, and certificates in many healing modalities including Craniosacral Therapy, PSYCH-K , Reiki, IET, and Quantum Touch .
Debbie Wigrizer has been practicing meditation and yoga for over 20 years and is a Certified Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance. She has an avid meditation practice and has studied meditation with many inspiring teachers, and now guides yoga and meditation hiking retreats. As a graduate of the Mindfulness Curriculum Training with Mindful Schools and Mindfulness Education Programs for elementary and high School students, she continues to teach the value of meditation to students in the Philadelphia schools. In addition, for over 20 years, she has taught at Community College of Philadelphia. She has a BS and MS in Education as well as certificates in Medicinal Aromatherapy, Thai-Yoga Bodywork, Reiki and Yoga Outreach. She hopes to bring her passion for innerstrength and peace through mindfulness to as many students as possible in order to raise a more conscious community and world.
Holly is a communications specialist with core strengths in public relations, strategic marketing communications and advancement with extensive experience working for nonprofit organizations, educational institutions and foundations. Her special interests are education and healthcare /wellness. She is certified to teach yoga and mindfulness to grade school children through Verge Yoga as well as her Inner Strength certification for work with high school students.
Larry Peers is an organizational consultant, specializing in work in the non profit sector. He holds a doctoral degree in organizational change from Pepperdine University and one in congregational studies from Hartford Seminary, where he has also served as adjunct faculty. He earned master’s degrees at Boston University and Antioch University (developmental clinical psychology) and a B.A. at Eckerd College. In addition, he has specialized training in whole systems planning processes of Future Search and Appreciative Inquiry. Larry takes an integral approach to training and coaching drawing from his training in psychology, narrative therapy and his certification as an ontological and Strozzi somatic leadership coach.

Lillian Rozin is a certified psychotherapist, and yoga and meditation instructor. She received her degrees from University of Pennsylvania (BA English), NYU Tisch School of the Arts (MFA, Theatre), and Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Work (MSW). Lillian has also completed her YTA-500 training. While the bulk of her work is with individual counseling, including a specialty in teen issues, she also combines her theatre and writing training to create one- and two-person musicals on contemporary issues. She lives in Media, PA.
Jonathan is a middle school teacher and photographer. His love of visual story-telling is woven into his classwork and his desire to give kids the tools of mindfulness is supported by his own training and experience.

Thank you interns!

Meg Levitin, Jerusalem
Emma Fox, Philadelphia
Sonali Pandhe, Texas
Reem Larabi, Philadelphia
Talolupe Adekunle, Philadelphia

Certified Teachers

2017 Alumni
2016 Alumni
2015 Alumni


Independent Research Study

The Philadelphia School Board approved an independent study conducted by Syracuse University, Department of Public Health. Student progress will be evaluated using two industry standard metrics, the Adolescent Self Regulatory Index and the Neff Self Compassion Scale. The study will use pre and post evaluations with a pool of 300+ participants and a control group. This study will measure changes in social/emotional skills, including pro-social, self-regulatory, and altruistic motivations.

Lead Researchers:

Dr. Dessa Bergen-Cico
Dr. Rachel Razza

Thank you Donors!

A Huge Thank You! to our Partners

Inner Strength Foundation thanks all of our generous donors for their ongoing support. We are especially appreciative of those community businesses that have extended their support of our city’s youth.