Cummings $20 Million Grant Program

Cummings Foundation Inc.

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Next anticipated deadline: Sep 6, 2020 2:00pm PDT (Letter of inquiry)

Later anticipated deadlines: Jan 17, 2021 2:00pm PST (Full proposal)

Grant amount: US $200,000 - US $500,000

Fields of work: Health & Medicine Human & Social Services Education Social Justice / Human Rights

Applicant type: Indigenous Group, Government Entity, Nonprofit

Funding uses: Education / Outreach, Project / Program, General Operating Expense

Location of project: Counties in Massachusetts: Essex County, Middlesex County, Suffolk County

Location of residency: Counties in Massachusetts: Essex County, Middlesex County, Suffolk County

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About this funder:



Cummings $20 Million Grant Program

Cummings Foundation has combined its $100K for 100 and Sustaining Grants initiatives into the new Cummings $20 Million Grant Program, which will award a total of $20 million to 125 local-area nonprofits in 2020.

The Foundation and 70 of its generous, insightful volunteers will first identify 125 organizations to receive grants of at least $100,000 each (almost all of which will be paid over multiple years). Among the winners will be first-time recipients as well as nonprofits that have previously received grants of $100,000 from Cummings Foundation. A limited number of this latter group of repeat recipients will then be invited to make an in-person presentation proposing that their grant be elevated to a long-term award. Twenty-five such requests will be granted in the form of 10-year awards ranging mostly from $200,000 to $500,000 each. Again, this long-term funding is available, however, only to nonprofits that have previously received a $100,000 grant from Cummings Foundation.

At least half of the grants each year will be determined completely by volunteers. The other awards will be Early Decision grants, determined by Cummings Foundation through an internal process.

Cummings Foundation has awarded more than a quarter-billion dollars to greater Boston nonprofits to date.

Priority Funding Causes

The Cummings $20 Million Grant Program funds a wide variety of local causes, especially those related to human services, education, healthcare, and social justice. 

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).

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • The Cummings $20 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.
  • Nonprofits that meet these criteria and provide some services statewide, or even in adjacent states, are eligible for consideration. 
  • 501(c)(3) grant-making organizations will occasionally be considered for the Cummings $20 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Cummings $20 Million Grant Program will not generally consider requests for:**
    • Endowments
    • Medical research
    • Scholarship funds
    • 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.
      • Schools in these priority communities will typically not be considered, however, if they charge significant tuition.
    • **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.