The Welcome Project awarded a $100,000 Cummings grant
The Somerville non-profit organization is funded by the Cummings Foundation for three years
The Welcome Project (TWP) is one of 140 local nonprofit organizations receiving grants ranging from $100,000 to $500,000 each under the Cummings Foundation’s $25 Million Grants Program. The Somerville-based organization was selected from a total of 580 applicants in a competitive review process. It will receive $100,000 over three years.
The Welcome Project builds the collective power of immigrants to participate in and shape community decision-making through programs that empower immigrant youth, adults and families to advocate for themselves and influence schools, government and other institutions .
“In Somerville and neighboring communities, the businesses hardest hit by Covid 19 have been disproportionately owned and operated by immigrants,” said Francisca Sepúlveda, Somerville Worker Center coordinator. “It’s the same story you see across the United States, where more than one in three immigrant business owners have limited English skills. Language barriers, xenophobia and racism prevent many independent immigrant businesses from gaining access to broader markets and the information they need to thrive. Similarly, immigrant communities in Somerville and Metro North Boston face disproportionate barriers to financial stability and employment.”
Receiving a three-year Cummings grant of this magnitude will help The Welcome Project deepen its work on economic mobility with members of the Somerville immigrant community and provide more human resources support to local immigrants in the areas of entrepreneurship and economic stability. Technical assistance, workers’ rights education and access to new business opportunities are critical to the job security of working-class migrant communities, especially as their businesses and livelihoods have been hardest hit by Covid-19. TWP is focused on continuing and
Establishing services for immigrants in their host communities who run or work in local immigrant-owned businesses to support their viability and economic prosperity.
“The support of the Cummings Foundation is critical in helping TWP and its partners conduct a wide-ranging needs assessment with local immigrant entrepreneurs and better understand their needs in order to develop the programs, services and organizational capacity to effectively address those needs said Andrea Duarte, Development Associate at TWP.
The Welcome Project will use these funds to build an economic development program that will help local immigrant-owned businesses thrive by developing a business plan and providing mentoring and technical support. Eventually, TWP will work with the City of Somerville’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and Office of Racial and Social Justice to provide language-accessible workshops and consultation hours for immigrant business owners to help them navigate processes such as licensing, loan applications, business plans, regulatory compliance, and other challenges they may face. The first step will be to conduct a comprehensive needs assessment that engages and listens to the broad spectrum of Somerville immigrant small business owners who influence the Small Business Technical Assistance program curriculum and ensure programming prioritizes identified community needs.
Cummings’ $25 million grant program supports Massachusetts nonprofit organizations based in and primarily serving the counties of Middlesex, Essex and Suffolk.
Through this place-based initiative, the Cummings Foundation aims to give back in the areas where it owns commercial properties. Their buildings are all managed free of charge by subsidiary Cummings Properties. This Woburn-based commercial real estate company leases and manages 11 million square feet of debt-free space, the majority of which exclusively benefits the foundation.
“We are fortunate to have such effective nonprofit organizations in the Boston area, plus a wealth of talented, dedicated professionals and volunteers to lead them,” said Joyce Vyriotes, executive director of the Cummings Foundation. “We owe them a debt of gratitude for the work they do every day to meet basic needs, break down barriers to education and health resources, and work towards a more just society.”
With the help of about 90 volunteers, the foundation first identified 140 organizations to receive grants of at least $100,000 each. Among the winners were both first-time recipients and nonprofit organizations that had previously received grants from the Cummings Foundation. Forty of this latter group of repeat recipients were then selected to increase their grants to 10-year awards of $200,000 to $500,000 each. “Our volunteers bring diverse backgrounds and perspectives, which is so critical to our scholarship selection process,” said Vyriotes. “Through this
democratized approach to philanthropy, they decide on more than half of the grants each year.”
This year’s grantees represent a variety of causes, including food insecurity, immigration and refugee services, social justice, education, and mental health services. The non-profit organizations are spread across 45 different cities and communities.
The full list of 140 grantees and more than 900 past recipients is available at www.CummingsFoundation.org.
The Cummings Foundation has now awarded more than $375 million to major Boston nonprofits.
The Welcome Project was born in 1987 in response to racial intolerance and anti-immigrant violence in Somerville’s Mystic Public Housing Development following government-ordered racial abolition in the 1980s. The founders of TWP, a multicultural group of tenants and communities
Members came together to support and empower these new residents. TWP now works with immigrant communities throughout Somerville and the surrounding towns and maintains close ties with Mystic, where its office and programs are based.
The Welcome Project offers a year-round program for working-class immigrant families that is culturally positive, linguistically accessible, and strengths-based. Its programs include youth development and culture programs, English language courses for speakers of other languages (ESOL), interpreting training for youth, leadership training, college and professional maturity, workshops on immigrant rights and labor rights
Education and leadership, organization and advocacy around political issues and more through civic and community partnerships. To learn more about TWP, visit: https://www.welcomeproject.org/.
Woburn based Cummings Foundation, Inc. was founded in 1986 by Joyce and Bill Cummings and has grown to become one of the largest private foundations in New England. The foundation directly operates its own not-for-profit subsidiaries, including New Horizons retirement communities in Marlborough and Woburn, and Cummings Health Sciences, LLC. For more information, see