2016 Grant Selection Committee chairpersons:(seated, left to right) Hon. Margot Botsford, associate justice, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court; Marie Lingblom, assistant to mayor, city of Woburn; Janine Danielson, partner, LitmanGerson Associates; Juliette Reiter, executive managing director, Newmark Grubb Knight Frank; Joan Hadly, senior vice president (retired), Museum of Science; (standing, left to right) Bill and Joyce Cummings, founders, Cummings Foundation (not on a Selection Committee); Paul Sauerbrunn, managing principal, Waddell & Reed Financial; Maureen Ruettgers, Ruettgers Family Charitable Foundation; Aba Taylor, executive director, Winchester Multicultural Network; Maribeth Canning, vice president, Winchester Hospital; Paul Denaro, manager of food service purchasing, Tufts University
Grant Selection Committees
The final selections of the $100K for 100 grant winners is a challenging and time-consuming task. Cummings Foundation greatly appreciates the time and thoughtfulness its volunteer Grant Selection Committees dedicate to choosing the most worthy nonprofits to receive the $100,000 grants.
Full applications are first evaluated by Foundation staff, who identify the strongest proposals as well as those that are least aligned with the Foundation’s priorities and should be removed from further consideration. This initial review results in 50 “early decision” grantees plus 100 fully qualified finalists for the 50 remaining grant awards.
Next, 10 Grant Selection Committees take over, making the most challenging decisions of the process. Each committee decides $500,000 in grants by selecting five winners from a batch of 10 applications addressing similar causes. Every committee includes three volunteer community leaders and one Cummings Properties employee. Community leaders serve for three years, with one rotating off each year, after serving as chair. Cummings employees serve only one year, thereby allowing more colleagues the opportunity to be part of the process.
Because each application that makes it to a Grant Selection Committee has been deemed eligible for, and worthy of receiving, a $100K for 100 award, the Foundation relies on the values and judgments of committees members to make these final very difficult determinations. The guidelines below, which describe the Foundation’s current thinking and preferences, are provided to committee members and may also offer helpful insights for grant writers. Applicants are also encouraged to visit the FAQs page.
Cummings staff members who served on 2016 Grant Selection Committees: (seated, left to right) operations counsel Emily Wood, project coordinator Cassandra Tower, HR manager Carmen Urbonas, client services associate Jo-Anne Varoutsos, Executive Suites admin assistant Denise McKeown, (standing, left to right) Bill and Joyce Cummings (not on a Selection Committee) energy manager Lucas Toffoli, associate division manager Brian Borselli, HVAC tech Jay Lombardo, carpenter Mark Lynch, leasing director Mike Truesdale
Cummings Foundation seeks funding opportunities that will have a meaningful impact on a nonprofit and the people it serves. “Meaningful impact,” however, can take many forms. For example, one program might affect the lives of hundreds of children by providing educational materials, whereas another program might provide one-on-one mentoring that affects only a few dozen children, but changes the course of their educational paths. Although very different in scope, both programs might be worthy of grant funding.
Executive Compensation & Funding for Salaries
Recognizing that most charities require paid staff to fulfill their missions, Cummings Foundation often provides funding for salaries. Like their for-profit counterparts, nonprofit organizations must provide reasonable compensation to attract and retain highly qualified and talented employees. Because the nonprofits being considered for funding vary widely in terms of annual budget size, type of service provided, and impact on the community, the Foundation does not have specific parameters for salaries; however, it does not look favorably upon compensation that might be considered excessive in relation to an employee’s responsibilities.
History of Success
Cummings Foundation applauds the initiative of newly formed nonprofits that seek to meet community needs. Given the large size of the grants made through the $100K for 100 program, however, the Foundation gives priority to established nonprofits with a proven history of providing value to the community. Grants may be awarded to fund new programs of established nonprofits, if the application successfully demonstrates the need for the program and the organization’s capacity to fill that need.
The willingness of individuals to give freely of their time and talents to a nonprofit can sometimes speak volumes about the value of that organization to the community. Accordingly, the Foundation tends to view volunteer involvement very favorably.