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Mystic River Watershed Association awarded $90,000 Cummings grant

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Watershed nonprofit receives 3 years of funding from Cummings Foundation

   Arlington, May, 2023 –The Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) is one of 150 local nonprofits that will share in $30 million through Cummings Foundation’s major annual grants program. MyRWA was selected from a total of 630 applicants during a competitive review process. It will receive $90,000 over three years.

   The Mystic River watershed is a critical natural system that connects 21 communities to the ocean, and provides much needed benefits to the 600,000 people that live there. Every day, MyRWA works to protect water quality, restore important habitat, build climate resilience, transform parks and paths, and engage youth and community members.

   “The Mystic River watershed is an amazing asset for our communities—and it is a great entry point for area youth to learn about science and the environmental issues,” said Patrick Herron, Executive Director. “Thank you to the Cummings Foundation for recognizing the importance of connecting youth to nature in their backyard.”

   Funding from the Cummings Foundation will make interactive, place-based educational programming in schools, community groups, and local parks available to 1,000 youth throughout our watershed. MyRWA offers environmental education programs in-class and at our many field sites throughout the watershed year-round. Our programming aligns with state learning standards and examines issues like stormwater pollution and water quality, river herring ecology, biodiversity, and climate change through a local lens. Check out this post from our Watershed Educator to see how we are bringing students out to learn and care for their watershed.

   “By working with schools and youth groups in our communities, families within our watershed will have the agency to address those issues that affect them the most,” said Natalia Bayona, Watershed Educator. “I am thrilled that the Cummings Foundation is helping us build this capacity.

   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 Mystic River Watershed Association

The Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) builds shared solutions so that all people, no matter who you are or where you live across the Mystic River Watershed, have safe and easy access to nature and a healthy environment. MyRWA believes that understanding historical and current inequities, access to data and science, and opportunities to learn about the natural world empowers families to make informed decisions while working together to build a future where local communities have what they need to drive change.

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.

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