Subject Areas: Climate change, inequality, arts and culture, constituency building, disruptive ideas, religious traditions, and contemplative practices
Assets: $408 million (2012)
Last Year Total Giving: $19 million (2012)
In a nutshell: The Nathan Cummings Foundation was established in 1949 by Nathan Cummings, the founder of the Sara Lee Corporation. Its mission is as follows: “The Nathan Cummings Foundation is rooted in the Jewish tradition and committed to democratic values and social justice, including fairness, diversity, and community. We seek to build a socially and economically just society that values nature and protects the ecological balance for future generations; promotes humane health care; and fosters arts and culture that enriches communities.”
The foundation’s grantmaking philosophy is aligned with core concerns about the poor, disadvantaged, and underserved; respect for diversity; cross-cultural understanding; and the empowerment of at-risk communities.
Major Programs: After a lengthy strategic planning process in 2013, the foundation’s board emerged with a clearer understanding of its goals, philosophy, and areas of interest. The Nathan Cummings Foundation supports two broad areas of focus that help guide grantmaking efforts:
In order to promote effective social change within its two focus areas, the foundation has identified the following approaches to inform its grantmaking practices:
- Arts and Culture
- Constituency Building
- Disruptive Ideas
- Religious Traditions and Contemplative Practices
The foundation also organizes the Nathan Cummings Foundation Fellowship, which provides three individuals with $100,000 each in order to work on a social- or economic-justice project over the course of one year. The proposed projects must be in line with the foundation’s focus areas and approaches.
The foundation has a strong history of funding youth-related projects in the areas of arts and education. In 2010, it supported a grant to the Art Center of Design to help studio artists create anti-gun campaigns aimed at at-risk youth in Los Angeles schools. In 2011, the foundation provided funding to The Brotherhood/Sister Sol, Inc. to support efforts to develop Black and Latino youth into the next generation of critical thinkers and leaders.
Application Process: At this time, the Nathan Cummings Foundation does not accept unsolicited funding requests. The bulk of the foundation’s work is concentrated in the United States, though it supports some work in Israel and occasionally in other locations across the world.
The foundation does not fund research for specific diseases, Holocaust-related projects, foreign-based organizations, or community-based organizations that do not plan to replicate their programs regionally or nationally. The foundation also does not provide funding for grants for scholarships, sponsorships, projects with no plans for replication, endowments, or capital campaigns.
For more information about the Nathan Cummings Foundation, email [email protected].