Root Awarded $350,000 Cummings Grant


 Salem nonprofit receives 10 years of funding from Cummings Foundation.

The Root is one of 140 local nonprofits to receive grants of $100,000 to $500,000 each through Cummings Foundation’s $25 Million Grant Program.  The Salem-based organization was chosen from a total of 590 applicants during a competitive review process.  It will receive $350,000 over 10 years.

Root’s mission is to help young adults create a pathway to independence through foodservice training and employment. By developing essential life and work readiness skills, youth leave Root prepared for success in the workplace.

Root’s Executive Director, M. Scott Knox, said, “We are absolutely honored by this transformative award from the Cummings Foundation to support Root’s Community Catering Initiative.  The Cummings Foundation has been one of Root’s most important champions since 2018, and this new multi-year commitment anchors Root’s unique approach to addressing food insecurity in Essex County.  This award will help Root provide 3,500 meals annually for those in-need, create jobs for youth who have been left out of the workforce, and support local farmers with every meal served.”

“We are so grateful to the Cummings Foundation for their investment in Root and our young people,” said Root Head Chef, Sam Hunt. “Each week, Root produces 500 to 700 fresh, nutritious meals for seniors, families and children experiencing food insecurity and for clients served by Lifebridge, The Salem Pantry, My Brother’s Table and many more North Shore agencies.  All meals are made by graduates of Root’s youth job training program, who continue their skill development and training at above minimum wage in Root’s production kitchen.”

One of Root’s Alumni Employees, Eboni Williams, shared “I graduated from Root in 2018 and finished Salem High School in June, 2020.  I began working with the Root Community Catering team in late 2020, and I’ve been able to further develop my culinary skills and grow as a leader in the kitchen.  I’m excited that Root has funding for the next ten years to hire other alumni to be a part of our work feeding community.”

The Cummings $25 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.  This 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.

“We aim to help meet the needs of people in all segments of our local community,” said Cummings Foundation executive director Joel Swets.  “It is the incredible organizations we fund, however, that do the actual daily work to empower our neighbors, educate our children, fight for equity, and so much more.”

With the help of about 80 volunteers, the Foundation first identified 140 organizations to receive grants of at least $100,000 each.  Among the winners were first-time recipients as well as nonprofits that had previously received Cummings Foundation grants.  Forty of this latter group of repeat recipients were then selected to have their grants elevated to 10-year awards ranging from $200,000 to $500,000 each.

“We have adopted a democratic approach to philanthropy, which empowers an impressive roster of dedicated volunteers to decide more than half of all our grant winners each year,” said Swets.  “We benefit from their diverse backgrounds and perspectives; they benefit from a meaningful and fulfilling experience; and the nonprofits often benefit from increased exposure and new advocates.”

This year’s grant recipients represent a wide variety of causes, including social justice, homelessness prevention, affordable housing, education, violence prevention, and food insecurity.  The nonprofits are spread across 43 different cities and towns.

The complete list of 140 grant winners, plus more than 800 previous recipients, is available at

Cummings Foundation has now awarded more than $300 million to greater Boston nonprofits.

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