Cummings Foundation pledges up to $2 million to CommonWealth Kitchen

Cummings Foundation co-founders Joyce and Bill Cummings (far left and right) with (left to right) CWK executive director Jen Faigel, Jill Griffin, and Pat Gray at the 2017 celebration for 10-year grant awardees

BOSTON – Woburn, MA-based Cummings Foundation has stunned the social justice champions at CommonWealth Kitchen (CWK) with a surprise pledge of as much as $2 million.

Up to $1 million will be disbursed to the Dorchester nonprofit this fall as a match of all new funds it has raised by September 1. The second $1 million guarantees CWK $100,000 annually for the next decade.

“We are hopeful that the challenge grant we’ve issued encourages new support for CWK, which would be an investment in Grove Hall and the surrounding community,” said Joyce Vyriotes, executive director of Cummings Foundation. “CWK has filled a critical need for truly effective workforce development programs that not only benefit individuals and families, but also strengthen neighborhoods.”

CWK’s programming helps local entrepreneurs, most of whom are women and people of color, launch food-based businesses in an effort to promote a more equitable food economy. Cummings’ budget infusion arrives just in time to support the based business incubator’s purchase of a 36,000-square-foot building—the one-time Pearl Meat Packing Company headquarters—to accommodate the continued expansion of its programming.

Foundation trustees delivered news of the major gift to a speechless Jen Faigel, CWK’s executive director, during a recent Zoom call.

“I’m so honored and appreciative,” said Faigel. “The first time we got that $100,000, we were not the organization we are now—by any stretch of the imagination. But Cummings got involved, and other funders took notice and said ‘oh, Cummings is excited about you,’ and that has allowed us to grow and grow.”

According to Faigel, CWK has, during its six-year partnership with Cummings Foundation, expanded its staff by a multiple of six and nearly quadrupled its annual budget.

Following the fulfillment of a $100,000 grant awarded in 2015, CWK was in 2017 awarded 10 years of funding in the amount of $500,000. The new multimillion-dollar commitment will replace, and restart the clock on, the latter grant award.

Cummings Foundation’s philanthropic focus is primarily on giving back in the areas where it owns commercial buildings, all of which are managed on a pro bono basis by Cummings Properties. Founded in 1970 by Bill Cummings, the commercial real estate firm leases and manages 11 million square feet of debt-free suburban space, most of which exclusively benefits the Foundation.

The Foundation has now awarded more than $320 million to local nonprofits and will announce the recipients of an additional $25 million in funding this June. Additional information is available at

CommonWealth Kitchen acts as a launching pad for diverse entrepreneurs to start and build successful food companies. Its shared kitchens in Dorchester are typically home to 50 early-stage food businesses, and more than 75 percent of its member companies are owned by women and people of color. Since its inception, it has graduated more than 65 businesses into their own facilities, which, combined, employ more than 600 and generate more than $65 million in combined annual gross revenue. Visit to learn about CWK’s efforts to build a food economy grounded in racial, social, and economic justice.