Grants Awarded to Seven Boston Area Nonprofits

Freedom House Inc. (clockwise, from laptop screen): Freedom House CEO Charmaine Arthur with Cummings Foundation volunteers Joan Hadly and Aisha Francis, and Judy Bigby.

Woburn, MA – Seven local nonprofits just learned they are one step closer to achieving maximum impact, thanks to sizable cash infusions from Cummings Foundation. Through its brand-new Nonprofits Experiencing Transformation (NExT) Grants program, the Woburn-based foundation divvied up an additional $5 million among current grantees that are on the precipice of reaching new heights.

Sportsmen’s Tennis and Enrichment Center (l-r): Cummings Foundation volunteers Judith Palmer Castor, Robert D. Keefe, and Lisa Craig; Sportsmen’s Tennis and Enrichment Center CEO Toni Wiley, Chief Development Officer John Feeley, and Chief Program Officer Charlynne Mines-Smart; and Cummings Foundation volunteer Andy Kendall

The $3 billion 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, the commercial real estate firm leases and manages 11 million sq. ft. of suburban space, the vast majority of which exclusively benefits the foundation.

Each of the following organizations will receive a lump-sum NExT Grant to support a game-changing program or construction project: Freedom House Inc. ($500,000) and Sportsmen’s Tennis and Enrichment Center ($1 million), of Dorchester; Lawrence Community Works ($500,000); Acre Family Child Care ($500,000) and Merrimack Valley Food Bank ($1 million), of Lowell; Urban Farming Institute ($500,000), of Mattapan; and Plummer Youth Promise ($1 million), of Salem.

There was no application process, and the nonprofits were not aware that they were being considered for additional funding. “Through our ongoing relationships with grantees, we learn about their latest and greatest initiatives,” said Cummings Foundation executive director Joyce Vyriotes. “Our aim with these awards is to mitigate the financial barrier to these transformational projects, giving organizationally sound nonprofits the boost needed to amplify their impact in the regions they serve.”

Lawrence Community Works (l-r): Lawrence Community Works Director of Real Estate John Harden and Executive Director Jessica Andors, with Cummings Foundation trustee Robert D. Keefe

Maintaining its tradition of democratized philanthropy, the foundation entrusted a diverse team of volunteers to nominate, vet, and determine the NExT Grants winners. Among these volunteers was Dr. Judy Bigby, former secretary of health and human services for the Commonwealth.

“I was impressed with how the organizations that were hard hit by the pandemic were reflecting on and growing from those challenges,” said Bigby. “Given those ongoing hardships, and the many other unknowns, the idea for this program was spot on. Its focus on helping nonprofits elevate their programming and facilities meets a very important need for organizations that would not typically have the opportunity to secure this level of support.”