Cummings Coaches

Cummings Coaches

A pilot program providing LOI development mentorship to a limited number of small nonprofits

In a recent survey of applicants, several respondents strongly encouraged Cummings Foundation to offer coaching to help smaller organizations more effectively navigate the grant application process. It was suggested that providing this type of support to Black- and Brown-led nonprofits, in particular, could help address disparities and make the process more accessible, equitable, and inclusive.

As a direct result of this feedback, Cummings Foundation is delighted to introduce a pilot program that offers one-on-one coaching to a limited number of nonprofits that plan to submit LOIs in summer 2023.


Applicants complete brief form to request coaching and, while awaiting response, begin to draft an LOI.

Aug 7:

Cummings sends an introductory email to each assigned applicant and its coach.

Aug 7 – Sep 8:

Each applicant contacts its coach to schedule an introductory meeting, share a working draft of the LOI, and discuss how they would like to structure their meetings. Applicants and coaches will then meet over this four-week period.

Sep 8:

Applicants submit LOIs by 5:00 PM.

Who is eligible?

Eligible nonprofits must:

We anticipate being able to accommodate approximately 30 applicants during the 2024 grant cycle. Because space will be limited, preference will be given to:

  • Black- and Brown-led nonprofits*, and
  • applicants that have not received a prior award through Cummings’ primary annual grant program (smaller awards, such as through Cummings Community Giving, are not disqualifying).
Who are the coaches and how much time will they dedicate?

The coaches, listed below, will be community volunteers who have previously served on a Cummings grant selection committee and are very familiar with both the Foundation and its selection process.

They will attend an orientation session with Cummings staff and will commit to at least two hours of meeting time (virtually or in person), which can be broken up over multiple meetings. It is up to each coach and nonprofit pair to determine when, where, and for how long to meet. Some coaches may choose to dedicate more than two hours, but not all of them will have that ability.

  • Adele Fleet Bacow, founder, Community Partners Consultants
  • Margot Botsford, JD, associate justice (retired), Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
  • Betsy Busch, M.D., developmental pediatrician, Tufts University
  • Lisa Craig, former V.P., Boston Private Bank & Trust Co.; nonprofit advisor
  • Gale Druga, PhD, fundraising professional (retired)
  • Marcia Hertz, nonprofit marketing and fundraising consultant
  • Robert Keefe, JD, senior counsel, WilmerHale
  • Andrew Kendall, executive director, Henry P. Kendall Foundation
  • Debbie Kochevar, DVM, PhD, former Cummings School dean, Tufts University
  • Jim Kraus, senior consultant, Development Guild
  • Patricia McCauley, DNP, director (retired), Clinical Resource & Simulation, Regis College
  • Kara McLaughlin, first spouse, Salem State University.; former executive director, The House of the Seven Gables
  • Gerry & Tony Sobkowicz, procurement coordinator (retired), commonwealth of Massachusetts; and environmental engineer (retired)
  • Norman Stein, CEO, Development Solutions; SVP development (retired), Boston Medical Center
What will the coaches offer?

Coaches will:

  • Serve as a sounding board and help the applicant think through how it presents itself—and conveys the impact of its work—in writing.
  • Help ensure that the applicant is providing information that will be valuable to the grant evaluators.
  • Provide feedback and recommendations to help improve a draft.
  • Identify potential gaps in an LOI.

Coaches will not:

  • Write any portion of, or provide redline edits for, a draft.
  • Be involved in evaluating an applicant they coached, if they serve on a 2024 grant selection committee.
What will the meetings be like?

Coaches will commit to at least two hours of meeting time (virtually or in person), which can be broken up over multiple meetings. Beyond this, Cummings Foundation will not prescribe an approach for them to follow.

We encourage each coach and nonprofit pair to conduct their meetings in the manner that seems most helpful for the nonprofit. Given that this is a pilot program, we look forward to gathering feedback from both coaches and nonprofits and, hopefully, developing some helpful tips or best practices for future coaching programs.

Will participants of this program receive special consideration or an automatic invitation to the full application stage?

Participants will, hopefully, be able to submit a stronger proposal as a result of the coaching. They will, however, go through the standard competitive process and will not receive any special consideration for advancement.

How do I sign up?

Simply complete this brief form by Monday, July 31. Cummings expects to reach out to every applicant who expressed interest by August 7 to either connect them with their coach or notify them that space did not permit their participation.


Contact Grants Manager Andrew Bishop (, 781-569-2337) or Executive Director Joyce Vyriotes (, 781-932-7072).

* How does Cummings define “Black- and Brown-led” for this program?

We hope that the organizations meet all three of the following criteria:

  • The CEO identifies as Black or Brown
  • 51% of its clients are Black or Brown, and
  • 30% of its board and staff are Black or Brown