The Basics on the Cummings Foundation

Funded by an impressive commercial real estate fortune, Joyce and Bill Cummings established a private operating foundation in 1986 in the working-class suburb of Woburn. With over $1 billion in assets, the Cummings Foundation is a prominent local grantmaker in the Boston area. On top of that, the foundation owns and operates two large, not-for-profit assisted living facilities, partners with Tufts University’s veterinary medicine school, and contributes to more distant causes related to justice in Rwanda and Holocaust and genocide education.

One World Boston Inc. is the local grantmaking entity for the Cummings Foundation. Cummings recently announced that it will commit $20 million in local area grants this year, mostly through its “$100K for 100” grantmaking program (Read Cummings Foundation Inc./One World Boston Inc.: Boston Area Grants). These are a few things you should know about the Cummings grantmaking program before clicking "send" on your Letter of Inquiry submimssion. 

Grantmaking is Focused on Boston and the Northern Suburbs

Nonprofits operating in and serving Middlesex, Essex, and Suffolk counties are given priority for grant awards. Although this foundation awards plenty of grants inside the city of Boston, the northern suburbs are heavily favored too, especially Woburn. The purpose of the $100K for 100 grants is to support nonprofits in the communities where employees and clients of Cummings Properties live.

Executive Director Joel Swets said, “These local charities are doing so much for their communities, many of them with very limited staff and resources. Judging by the comments received from grant recipients, as well as their level of excitement, we believe these funds will have a meaningful impact on the organizations and the people they serve.”

2014 Cummings Grants Will Be $100,000 or $1 Million a Piece

The Cummings staff plans to divvy out $10 million through the $100K for 100 program and then another $10 million through 10 grants of $1 million each. In recent years, Cummings awarded $16 million in local annual grants, some as single-year awards and others as multi-year awards with payments spread over two to ten years.

Cummings Doesn't Fund Everything

By and large, Cummings grantmaking is limited to programs related to underserved populations, healthcare, social justice, and education. Arts, cultural, and athletic organizations are typically never considered by this grantmaker. Since the foundation is still fulfilling its $50 million commitment to the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, animal welfare organizations are also not considered for grants.

To apply for a grant, plan to submit a Letter of Inquiry before January 10, 2015. However, the Board begins reviewing LOIs on September 10, 2014, and earlier submissions are strongly encouraged. As a general rule, the foundation does not conduct site visits or hold informational meetings with nonprofits to avoid bias.