Cummings donates $15 Million to 50 local nonprofits


WOBURN, MA– Fifty local nonprofits received awards on May 2 that likely made not just their day, but their decade. Woburn-based Cummings Foundation granted these organizations a cumulative $15 million through its Sustaining Grants program, which provides ongoing funding for 10 years. Each organization’s total grant ranges from $200,000 to $500,000.

One of the three largest private foundations in New England, Cummings Foundation aims to give back in the areas where it owns commercial buildings, all of which are managed on a pro bono basis by its affiliate, Cummings Properties. Founded in 1970 by Bill Cummings of Winchester, the Woburn-based commercial real estate firm leases and manages 10 million square feet of space, the majority of which exclusively benefits the Foundation.

The grant winners are based in Middlesex, Essex, and Suffolk counties and represent a broad range of causes, including education, homelessness, and food insecurity, as well as services for immigrants, senior citizens, and people with disabilities. The nonprofit recipients first learned of their awards in mid-April through surprise visits by Foundation volunteers.

“It felt like winning the Publisher’s Clearinghouse!” said Liz Cohen, executive director of Arlington’s The Children’s Room, about the unexpected visit she and her team received. “We are so incredibly grateful.”

The grant winners then gathered on May 2 with Cummings Foundation staff, trustees, and volunteers for the Sustaining Grants Awards Night at TradeCenter 128 in Woburn.

“We hope this decade-long commitment allows you to think bigger, to plan for the future, and—perhaps most importantly—to dedicate more of your resources to actually providing services rather than raising money for them,” said Joel Swets, executive director of Cummings Foundation,  from the podium.

Sustaining Grants winners were selected primarily by a 46-member volunteer committee, which included CEOs, former state legislators, a retired justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, and a noted Boston Globe reporter. Committee members attended presentations by, and then conducted site visits with, the nonprofits to learn about their missions and how they might put a 10-year grant to use.

Cummings Foundation has awarded $250 million to date in Greater Boston alone, and it will award an additional $10 million in June, when it announces the winners of this year’s “$100K for 100” program.

The history behind the Cummings organization’s unusual philanthropic structure is detailed in Bill Cummings’ self-written memoir “Starting Small and Making It Big.” It is available on Amazon or

For a complete list of the 50 Sustaining Grants winners, visit