Breakthrough Greater Boston Awarded 10-Year Cummings Grant


Education nonprofit serving Cambridge, Somerville, and Boston shares in $10 million in funding


BOSTON, October 19, 2020 – Breakthrough Greater Boston is one of 30 local nonprofits to share in $10 million in funding from Cummings Foundation. The Greater Boston-based organization will receive over $300,000 over 10 years.

Breakthrough Greater Boston improves educational equity by inspiring excitement for learning, creating paths to college, and promoting careers in education. Founded in 1992 by MacArthur Genius Awardee Dr. Angela Duckworth, Breakthrough is a unique organization with a dual mission to prepare low-income students for success in college and to train college students to become the next generation of urban teachers.

Executive Director Elissa Spelman explains, “At Breakthrough, we recognize the importance of understanding the needs of our students. Our students are at the center of our work. They are why we do what we do. Support from like-minded organizations like the Cummings Foundation helps make this work happen, which is a beautiful thing.”

Breakthrough Greater Boston will use funding from the Cummings Foundation to support multi-year geographic and programmatic expansion, with dramatic growth in students and future teachers served in Breakthrough’s highly successful program. Over the next decade, BTGB will impact the lives of over 2,500 young people across three cities, following them all the way from 11 to 21 years old. BTGB’s continuum of academic, social-emotional, college readiness, and teacher training programming will serve a growing number of Boston, Cambridge and Somerville students and Teaching Fellows.

“Greater Boston is so fortunate to have nonprofits like Breakthrough that are listening to the community and working to meet its needs,” said Cummings Foundation grants manager Christina Berthelsen. “By providing a full decade of support, we hope to alleviate some of the constant fundraising burden, enabling nonprofit staff to spend more time actually providing services.”

This long-term funding is part of the Cummings $20 Million Grant Program, which supports Massachusetts nonprofits that are based in and primarily serve Middlesex, Essex, and Suffolk counties.

In the first phase of this philanthropic initiative, 130 nonprofits were awarded $100,000 each in June. In the second phase, just completed, repeat grant winners were considered to have their $100,000 grants elevated to 10-years awards of $200,000 – $500,000 each.

Nonprofits contending for the extended funding made presentations via Zoom to a panel of Cummings Foundation volunteers. These community volunteers selected 19 of the 30 grant winners. The other 11 recipients had been determined in June by Foundation team members.

“As a way to share the economic power of the Foundation, we have created a system through which volunteers decide more than half of all our grant winners,” said Berthelsen. “We benefit from their diverse backgrounds and perspectives; they benefit from an enlightening learning opportunity; and the nonprofits often benefit from increased exposure and new advocates.”

Through the Cummings $20 Million Grant Program, Cummings Foundation gives 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.

Cummings Foundation has now awarded more than $280 million to greater Boston nonprofits alone. It increased its annual grant program from $20 million to $25 million during the current 2021 cycle. The process  is already underway.

The complete list of Cummings Foundation grant winners is publicly available at

About Breakthrough Greater Boston
Through six years of intensive, out of school time programming, Breakthrough changes students’ academic trajectories and supports them along the path to college. Simultaneously, Breakthrough builds careers in education through an unparalleled teacher training program for college-aged students that features competitive national recruitment, research-based training, and daily coaching from master teachers. After 20+ years of success in Cambridge, BTGB expanded to serve Boston and Somerville students, in 2013 and 2018, respectively.

About Cummings Foundation
Woburn-based Cummings Foundation, Inc. was established in 1986 by Joyce and Bill Cummings. The Foundation directly operates its own charitable subsidiaries, including New Horizons retirement communities in Marlborough and Woburn, and Veterinary School at Tufts, LLC in North Grafton. Additional information is available at