Cummings Foundation Grant Targets College Retention Rates

June 26, 2020

Erik Miller teaching Wentworth students in this file photo. (Photo by Webb Chappell)

The Cummings Foundation is supporting Wentworth Institute of Technology with a $100,000 grant to increase the university’s academic and socio-emotional support for Boston youth, while building a model that can expand to majority-minority communities struggling with college retention and completion rates.

The grant will help the Center for Community and Learning Partnerships in its effort to increase the number of Boston youth who enroll and continue their studies at the university, through the piloting of a new initiative called the “Bookend Project.” Through that effort, Wentworth will hire a new College Success Coordinator, expand the number of students who will benefit from the programs and services offered by the Center’s staff, and offer additional academic support programs and individualized case management to hundreds of Boston youth. A focus will be on helping these students pass two engineering calculus courses during their first year at the Institute.

“Since its founding in 1904, Wentworth has provided students with a practical educational model that allows them to be academically successful and competitive throughout their careers,” said Erik Miller, director of the Center for Community and Learning Partnerships.

“The Foundation’s generous support for our new “Bookend Project” will help the Center to expand these educational opportunities for many more Boston youth over the next few years, enabling us to provide them with a holistic support system as well as more personalized academic support services, especially in those foundational mathematics courses that most students struggle with.”

Wentworth is one of 130 local nonprofits to receive grants through Cummings Foundation’s $20 Million Grant Program. Cummings received 738 applications during a competitive review process.

The grant program supports Massachusetts nonprofits that are based in and primarily serve Middlesex, Essex, and Suffolk counties. Through this initiative, the Foundation aims to give back in the area where it owns commercial buildings, all of which are managed, at no cost to the Foundation, by its affiliate, Cummings Properties. Founded in 1970 by Bill Cummings, 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.

“We have been impressed, but not surprised, by the myriad ways in which these 130 grant winners are serving their communities, despite the challenges presented by COVID-19,” said Joel Swets, Cummings Foundation’s executive director. “Their ability to adapt and work with their constituents in new and meaningful ways has an enormous impact in the communities where our colleagues and leasing clients live and work.”

The Foundation and its volunteers first identified 130 organizations to receive grants of at least $100,000 each. A limited number of this group will be invited to make in-person presentations in the fall, when public health related circumstances allow, proposing that their grants be elevated to long-term awards Thirty such requests will be granted in the form of 10-year awards ranging from $200,000 to $500,000 each.

This year’s group of grant recipients represents a wide variety of causes, including homelessness prevention, affordable housing, education, violence prevention and food insecurity. The nonprofits are spread across 40 different cities and towns, and most will receive their grants over two to five years. The complete list of the 130 grant winners is available at

Founded in 1904, Wentworth provides a comprehensive, interdisciplinary, project-based education in engineering, design, management, and sciences that integrates classroom, laboratory, studio, cooperative and experiential learning and develops career-ready, skilled professionals and engaged citizens. Wentworth’s vision is to be a student-centered institution of inclusive excellence that offers high-quality undergraduate, graduate, and life-long learning programs; embraces a culture of innovation and creativity; serves society through urban engagement; and fosters positive growth for the local, regional, and national economies.

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