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More than 500 grant winners, volunteers, and friends logged on for our 2020 Grant Winner Celebration. View the recording above to enjoy remarks from Joyce and Bill Cummings, celebratory videos from recipients, the fourth annual grant winner poem, a touching toast, and more.

Cummings $25 Million Grant Program

Cummings Foundation has awarded more than $280 million to date in greater Boston, and it will award an additional $25 million to 140 local-area nonprofits in 2021.

Step 1

Cummings Foundation and 70 of its insightful volunteers will identify 140 grant winners to receive a minimum of $100,000 each. At least half of the awards will be determined completely by volunteers. The other awards will be Early Decision grants, determined by Cummings Foundation through an internal process.

Step 2

Of the 140 grant winners, those that have received previous Cummings Foundation awards of $100,000 will be considered to have their new $100,000 grant elevated to a larger 10-year grant. Important factors will include the successful fulfillment of previous grant agreements, as well as past impact reports and site visit reports. The most promising of these candidates for long-term funding will be invited to meet with a committee of volunteers for further discussion.

Step 3

Following in-person meetings, a volunteer committee will select 40 repeat recipients to have their $100,000 grants upgraded to awards ranging mostly from $200,000 to $500,000 each, providing sustained funding over a full decade without the need for submitting further applications.

The current grant cycle LOI window is closed. Please check back in July 2021 for a link to the Letter of Inquiry.


Application Timeline

July 6

Letter of Inquiry opens
Preview this year's LOI

LOIs are accepted via the online portal only. Organizations should submit no more than one LOI per grant cycle. Accordingly, larger institutions, such as colleges and hospitals, are urged to coordinate among departments before submitting any requests.

Sept. 4, 5 PM

Letter of Inquiry closes

Foundation staff will be available to answer questions up until the deadline. Nonprofits are strongly encouraged to plan ahead and submit well before the deadline, as extensions will not be granted.

Nov. 16

Application invitations and decline notices sent via email*
Preview the 2021 application

Nonprofits that submit an LOI should mark this date on their calendar and, if they do not receive an email notification, should contact the Foundation (after first checking their spam folder). The Foundation anticipates inviting about 275 organizations to the full application stage.

Jan. 8, 5 PM

Full applications due from those invited to apply

Foundation staff will be available to answer questions up until the deadline. Nonprofits are strongly encouraged to plan ahead and submit well before the deadline, as extensions will not be granted.

Week of Apr. 26

Presentation Days

Applicants selected for consideration for 10-year awards will be contacted during the week of April 12 and invited to schedule a 45-minute time slot during which they will meet with and make a presentation to Foundation volunteers.

Week of May 17

Grant approval and decline letters sent via postal mail

Nonprofits that submit an application should mark this date on their calendar, watch their postal mailbox, and if they do not receive a notification, contact the Foundation.

June 3

Grant Winner Celebration

Grant winners will be invited to send up to two representatives to this festive not-to-be-missed event. Due to space limitations, attendance is by invitation only.

*Important notices about Letters of Inquiry and applications are sent via email. To decrease the likelihood of missing such emails, applicants are encouraged to check their spam folders regularly for emails from an @cummings.com address.

Priority Funding Areas

The Cummings $25 Million Grant Program is a place-based initiative that primarily supports nonprofits in the Massachusetts counties where Cummings Foundation operates commercial properties and where most staff and clients of Cummings Foundation and Cummings Properties live—Middlesex, Essex, and Suffolk counties. Applicants should be local organizations that are not only headquartered in but also provide at least 50 percent of their services in this tri-county area. In addition, all funding requests should focus exclusively on operations within the tri-county area.

Special consideration is given to nonprofits based in the 11 cities and towns where the Cummings organization operates commercial real estate. The Foundation may also give such consideration to organizations that are based elsewhere in the tri-county area and propose introducing programming or services in one or more of these 11 communities, especially Woburn.

Nonprofits that meet these criteria and provide some services statewide, or even in adjacent states, are eligible for consideration. Given the strong local nature of this funding program, however, local office/affiliates of national organizations will not be considered, even if they meet the 50 percent threshold, unless they have their own EIN.

Priority Funding Causes

The Cummings $25 Million Grant Program funds a wide variety of local causes, especially those related to human services, education, healthcare, and social justice. While not in any way minimizing the value or importance of organizations focused on the arts (including dance, music, and theater), culture, environment, athletics, or the preservation of land or historic buildings, these areas are not among this program's priorities. Additionally, animal welfare organizations are not typically considered for these grants, as the Foundation already supports animals in a significant way through the ongoing fulfillment of a more than $70 million commitment to Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.

To ensure that funds benefit a wide variety of causes, the Foundation limits the number of grants awarded each year to independent organizations affiliated with the same national organization (e.g., Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCA).


The Cummings $25 Million Grant Program will not generally consider requests for:**

  • Endowments
  • Medical research
  • Religious endeavors
  • Relatively new entities
  • Political, legislative, or lobbying organizations
  • Individuals or debt reduction, no matter how worthy
  • Organizations that do not regularly file IRS Form 990
  • Major capital campaigns, unless very near completion
  • Very large organizations already supported by robust endowments
  • Organizations that do not have tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service Code
  • National or regional organizations, or local branches thereof that do not have an EIN separate from that of the larger entity
  • Organizations that discriminate based on race, color, gender, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, etc.
  • Municipalities (including public schools, police departments, etc.), except for the 11 communities in which the Cummings organization operates commercial properties
  • Primary and secondary schools, except for those located in the 11 communities in which the Cummings organization operates, and except for vocational schools that 1.) have programs for the construction trades and 2.) have member communities that overlap meaningfully with Cummings Properties' 11 communities. Schools in these priority communities will typically not be considered, however, if they charge significant tuition.

501(c)(3) grant-making organizations will occasionally be considered for the Cummings $25 Million Grant Program, but grant-makers will be expected to demonstrate expertise and due diligence in their processes to select and follow up with grantees.

Prior grant recipients are eligible to apply for an additional grant if:

  • All previous Cummings Foundation (or Cummings Properties) grants to that organization have been fully disbursed
  • All requirements stipulated in the prior Grant Agreement (including the completion of annual Impact Reports and the ongoing presence of an active reciprocal link to Cummings Foundation's website) have been fulfilled by the recipient organization
  • The organization meets the current eligibility requirements.
**In any grant cycle, the list of award recipients may include one or more organizations that do not strictly adhere to all of these priorities and eligibility guidelines. Such exceptions may be made in recognition of a particular relationship to or with the Foundation.

Meeting Requests

To avoid bias in evaluating grant applications, Cummings Foundation staff members do not typically conduct site visits or hold informational or relationship-building meetings with grant applicants. This policy is applied uniformly, so organizations will not be disadvantaged by it. Members of the volunteer selection committees that evaluate applications and select the majority of grant winners, however, may independently and at their own discretion request more information from specific applicants or, in some cases, conduct site visits.

Contact Us

Joel B. Swets, Executive Director

Joyce Vyriotes, Deputy Director

Heidi Heinlein, Grants Manager


Cummings Foundation reserves the right to modify, add to, amend, or eliminate any of its eligibility requirements, priority funding areas, or policies at any time, with or without notice.


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