Nathan Cummings Foundation Grant

Nathan Cummings Foundation

Grant amount: Up to US $1,200,000

Deadline: Rolling

Applicant type: Nonprofit

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

Location of project: Israel, United States

Location of residency: United States

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Foundation Overview

The Nathan Cummings Foundation is rooted in the Jewish tradition and committed to democratic values and social justice, including fairness, diversity, and community. We seek to build a socially and economically just society that values nature and protects the ecological balance for future generations; promotes humane health care; and fosters arts and culture that enriches communities.

The Foundation owes its existence and inspiration to Nathan Cummings, who rose from impoverished beginnings to become the founder and guiding force of the Sara Lee Corporation. He inherited a spirit of sharing and a sense of community from his immigrant parents and transmitted these values to his children and grandchildren, who now contribute their time and energy to the Foundation.

What We Fund

The Nathan Cummings Foundation supports innovative organizations that share our vision of a society that measures its success by how it treats those who have the least, and that works to close the gap between America’s promise and its imperfect practice.  Specifically, we seek to make progress on two pressing and interconnected problems that must be resolved if our vision is to be realized:  inequality and climate change.


These problems will only be made actionable for NCF and its grantees if we take the time to define them in new ways, explore them in-depth, and catalyze new and better solutions.  The following working definitions are a starting point that will require ongoing focusing and refinement.  At the heart of this work will be a commitment to questioning assumptions, seeking new facts, and being open to new ways of thinking about problems and solutions.  With the full participation of the board, staff and grant partners, we expect this commitment to allow us to make maximum positive use of limited resources.

Program Areas

We focus on finding solutions to the two most challenging problems of our time – the climate crisis and growing inequality – and aim to transform the systems and mindsets that hinder progress toward a more sustainable and equitable future for all people, particularly women and people of color. 

Climate Change

From the Pope to the Paris climate agreement, the world has declared the climate crisis one of the greatest challenges in mankind’s history. It will take all of our ingenuity and resolve to build an inclusive clean economy that lifts people out of poverty and moves everyone, especially those on the front lines, out of the devastating path we now face. We will address the climate crisis from an equity perspective and hold accountable the entrenched interests that have left our nation’s infrastructure and communities vulnerable and have stalled the energy and economic transformation we need. We’ll invest in solutions at the local, state, national and global level and join forces with diverse, enlightened leaders to chart a new course for a sustainable future.


Millions of Americans face overwhelming obstacles shaped by social hierarchies of race, ethnicity, gender, income, education level or zip code, which restrict their opportunities.In order to address inequality, we will invest in work with strong potential to transform the influence of implicit bias and discrimination that currently exist in our public policy, systems and markets. We are particularly concerned about the effects of law enforcement and criminal justice policies and practices on the economic security of hard-working families. With our partners, we will catalyze new and effective pathways to: improve quality of life for people; level the playing fields of opportunity; and challenge ideas, policies, practices and systems that perpetuate racial and ethnic stereotypes, criminalize people in poverty and make it possible for a few to hold a vastly disproportionate share of the nation’s income, wealth and assets. While our work is primarily concentrated in the United States, we will continue to support efforts addressing inequality in Israel and are looking globally to where we can make a difference. We have a long track record of aligning our investments with our values through shareholder activism and are exploring how we expand the tools we use to dedicate more of our investment dollars for greater impact.

Our Approach

The Nathan Cummings Foundation invests in four focus areas that together advance our vision of a healthy planet and a healthy democracy.  

We will accelerate a just transition to a more inclusive clean economy, where communities on the front lines are creating solutions to the climate crisis and where prosperity for all people is not at odds with a healthy environment.

We are determined to advance racial and economic justice, by unlocking markets that have excluded generations from economic opportunity, reforming systems that criminalize too many and lifting up new models of democratic inclusion.

We will use our influence as an investor and grantmaker to increase corporate and political accountability, spurring greater transparency and more democratic systems and structures.

We believe in the transformative power of the arts, contemplative practice and religious traditions to change hearts and minds. We seek to move people to act for social change by amplifying the voices, creativity and culture that can build empathy, nurture compassion and shift narratives about race, class, gender and ethnicity, who has power and how we value the planet.

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


  • Applying organizations must be recognized by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service as being 501(c)(3) tax-exempt public charities (not private foundations). 
    • Note: Projects that are not recognized as tax-exempt public charities must have a fiscal sponsor. In this case, the fiscal sponsor is the applicant of record and must agree to take full legal, administrative, and financial responsibility for the project.


  • The proposed grant must not be intended to support any of the following:
    • Academic scholarships
    • Sponsorships, fundraising events, or dinners
    • Projects addressing specific diseases
    • Social services or direct services
    • Capital campaigns, building campaigns, or endowment funds
    • Holocaust or history-based projects
    • Jewish, Hebrew, or arts education
    • Projects addressing K-12 or higher education programs
    • Congregations/Churches
    • 501(c)(4) organizations
    • Litigation
    • Individuals
  • NCF generally does not fund organizations focused primarily on youth, leadership development, or litigation.

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