PRESS RELEASE: BEST is one of 150 local nonprofits that will share in $30 million through Cummings Foundation’s major annual grants program. The Boston-based organization was selected from a total of 630 applicants during a competitive review process. It will receive $500,000 over 10 years.
BEST is a nationally recognized workforce development agency with a mission to provide individuals with the education, skills, and training to excel in the hospitality industry and in their personal lives. BEST partners with UNITE HERE Local 26 (the hotel and restaurant workers’ union), 40+ socially responsible hospitality employers, government and private foundations, and community organizations to place people into quality hospitality jobs that move families into the middle class. The funding received from the Cummings Foundation will specifically support BEST’s Job Seeker programming. This program focuses on creating a diversified pipeline of low-income residents who can access quality jobs in the hospitality sector. These jobs offer family-sustaining wages and comprehensive benefits, including healthcare, pension, dental, vision, modern assistance programs, legal services, and even first-time homebuyer loans. “The consistent and long-term grant from the Cummings Foundation is instrumental in enabling us to effectively carry out our mission and make a significant impact in the lives of individuals and families we serve,” said BEST executive director Aisha Necoechea.
The Cummings $30 Million Grant Program primarily supports Massachusetts nonprofits that are based in and serve Middlesex, Essex, and Suffolk counties. Through this place-based initiative, Cummings Foundation aims to give back in the areas where it owns commercial property. Its buildings are all managed, at no cost to the Foundation, by its affiliate, Cummings Properties. This Woburn-based commercial real estate firm leases and manages 11 million square feet of debt-free space, the majority of which exclusively benefits the Foundation. “The way the local nonprofit sector perseveres, steps up, and pivots to meet the shifting needs of the community is most impressive,” said Cummings Foundation executive director Joyce Vyriotes. “We are incredibly grateful for these tireless efforts to support people in the community and to increase equity and access to opportunities.”
The majority of the grant decisions were made by about 90 volunteers. They worked across a variety of committees to review and discuss the proposals and then, together, determine which requests would be funded. Among these community volunteers were business and nonprofit leaders, mayors, college presidents, and experts in areas such as finance and DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion). “It would not be possible for the Foundation to hire the diversity and depth of expertise and insights that our volunteers bring to the process,” said Vyriotes. “We so appreciate the substantial time and thought they dedicated toward ensuring that our democratized version of philanthropy results in equitable outcomes that will really move the needle on important issues in local communities.”
The Foundation and volunteers first identified 150 organizations to receive three-year grants of up to $225,000 each. The winners included first-time recipients as well as nonprofits that had previously received Cummings grants. Twenty-five of this latter group of repeat recipients were then selected by a volunteer panel to have their grants elevated to 10-year awards ranging from $300,000 to $1 million each. This year’s grant recipients represent a wide variety of causes, including housing and food insecurity, workforce development, immigrant services, social justice, education, and mental health services. The nonprofits are spread across 46 different cities and towns.
Cummings Foundation has now awarded $480 million to greater Boston nonprofits. The complete list of this year’s 150 grant winners, plus nearly 1,500 previous recipients, is available at www.CummingsFoundation.org.
About BEST Hospitality Training
BEST Hospitality Training, founded in 2004, is a sector-based, 501(c)3 minority-owned non-profit workforce development agency focused on the hospitality industry. By partnering with UNITE HERE Local 26 (the hotel and restaurant workers union), 40+ socially responsible employers, and city, state, and private funders, they open the doors to good-paying union hotel jobs for job seekers as well as upskilling and training opportunities for current union members. BEST has two training centers located in Medford and Boston, MA.
About Cummings Foundation
Woburn-based Cummings Foundation, Inc. was established in 1986 by Joyce and Bill Cummings of Winchester, MA and has grown to be one of the largest private foundations in New England. The Foundation directly operates its own charitable subsidiaries, including New Horizons retirement communities, in Marlborough and Woburn, and Cummings Health Sciences, LLC. Additional information is available at www.CummingsFoundation.org.
Spotlight: Grand Opening of our Seaport Training Center
In 2023, BEST opened its training center at the Seaport which is housed within the Omni Boston Hotel at the Seaport. This center is the result of a highly successful public, private, labor, and management partnership.