Cummings Foundation in major reach-out to Irish groups for 2021 grants

Ed Forry

 Bill and Joyce Cummings address grant winners at the 2019 grant winner celebration for Sustaining Grants awardees. Irish organizations are invited to submit Letters of Inquiry by Sept 4. One hundred nonprofits will be awarded $100,000 each, mostly payable over two to five years. Full details at CummingsFoundation,org/.grants

by Ed Forry
Boston Irish Publisher

One of Greater Boston’s leading philanthropies is reaching out to non-profit within the broader Irish community to apply for grants to support their efforts.

The Woburn based Cummings Foundation plans to disburse $25 million in grants, and is currently encouraging non-profits to submit letter of inquiry. The inquiry period will be open until September 4.

"The initiative will support 140 nonprofits based in and primarily serving Massachusetts’ Middlesex, Essex, and Suffolk counties,” Cummings spokesperson Alison Harding said in an email to Boston Irish. "At a time when so many charities are struggling, we’d love to see more Irish nonprofits apply.”

Non-profits that support the Irish community are encouraged to submit a Letter of Inquiry. Past grantees has included the Rian Immigrant Center(formerly IIIC-Irish International Immigration Centre.)
 “We want to support a broad array of nonprofits representing the rich diversity of greater Boston,” said Joyce Vyriotes, deputy director of the Foundation. “Because no one understands the needs of a community better than those who are already a part of it, we encourage organizations that are both based in and serve the Irish community to apply.” 
 The 2021 grant-making initiative will support 140 nonprofits based in and primarily serving Middlesex, Essex, and Suffolk counties in Massachusetts. The total to be awarded represents an increase of $5 million over the Woburn-based foundation’s most recent grant cycle.
 “We started off with $10 million a year; we’re at $20 million now; and next year we’ll be at $25 million,” said Cummings Foundation co-founder Bill Cummings in a surprise announcement last month during a Zoom call with more than 500 attendees. “That will allow for more organizations to be recognized for all the tremendous work they’re doing.”
 One hundred nonprofits will be awarded $100,000 each, mostly payable over two to five years. The other 40 grant winners, however, will receive 10-year grants ranging mostly from $200,000 to $500,000 each. The decade-long funding is available only to nonprofits that have previously received a $100,000 grant from Cummings Foundation, whereas the $100,000 awards are open to both new and prior grant winners.
Letters of Inquiry will be accepted through September 4. Following a comprehensive 10-month process involving about 70 volunteers and four different review stages, the winners will be announced in May 2021.
 “Most of the grant winners will be selected completely by volunteers, which is highly unusual,” said Vyriotes. “Democratizing our philanthropy in this way allows our very small staff to draw on the diverse backgrounds and extensive expertise within eastern Massachusetts.”   
The Cummings $25 Million Grant Program eligibility requirements, timeline, and FAQs, as well as a link to begin the Letter of Inquiry, are all available at The Foundation has awarded more than $280 million to greater Boston nonprofits to date.
 One of the 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 debt-free space, the majority of which exclusively benefits the Foundation.