Challenge Unlimited at Ironstone Farm was selected in 2020 for a special 10-year, $333,333 grant from the Cummings Foundation that helped Ironstone through 2020 and will allow it to continue offering educational programs to Head Start preschoolers for the rest of the decade.
Learn more about the prestigious Cummings Grant and the philanthropic Cummings Foundation below.
The Andover nonprofit – which serves children with special needs, veterans and others from more than 90 communities in the Merrimack Valley and Boston area - was chosen originally for a three-year grant from a total of 738 applicants during a competitive review process.
Then, Challenge Unlimited was selected as one of 30 grant recipients to have their three-year grant extended to benefit its nonprofit programs for 10 full years.
“We are indescribably grateful for the support of the Cummings Foundation,” said Deedee O’Brien, who recently stepped aside after serving as the executive director of Challenge Unlimited since its incorporation in 1983. “Our program supporting Head Start preschoolers has been a success and we hope to grow it to support young learners in additional cities with this grant.”
In addition to offering crucial 2020 support, the Cummings Grant will allow Ironstone Farm to continue offering nature programs to Head Start preschoolers in partnership with Community Teamwork Inc. of Lowell. Ironstone Farm is interested in expanding the program during the next nine years to support Head Start preschoolers from other cities in Essex, Middlesex and Suffolk counties.
The Cummings $20 Million Grant Program supports Massachusetts nonprofits that are based in and primarily serve Middlesex, Essex, and Suffolk counties. Through this place-based initiative, Cummings 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.
The 2020 Cummings $20 Million Grant Program resulted from a merger of the Foundation’s two flagship grant programs, $100K for 100 and Sustaining Grants.
Through this streamlined approach, the Foundation is now awarding a total of $20 million annually to 130 local-area nonprofits. Each year, 100 organizations now receive awards of $100,000, and 30 nonprofits – including Challenge Unlimited at Ironstone Farm - had their awards elevated to 10-year grants valued between $200,000 and $500,000 each.
“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.”
Cummings Foundation has now awarded more than $280 million to greater Boston nonprofits.