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The Nathan Cummings Foundation


Last Updated: 2016-06-06

At A Glance

The Nathan Cummings Foundation

475 10th Ave., 14th Fl.

New York City, NY United States 10018-9715

Telephone: (212) 787-7300


Type of Grantmaker

Independent foundation

Additional Descriptor

  • Celebrity: Business
  • Family foundation

Financial Data

(yr. ended 2014-12-31)

Assets: $464,139,650

Total giving: $18,273,883






Established in 1949 in IL - Founded by the late Nathan Cummings, who was the founder of Consolidated Foods, which later became the Sara Lee Corporation, a global purveyor of consumer goods

Purpose and Activities

The foundation is rooted in the Jewish tradition and committed to democratic values and social justice, including fairness, diversity, and community. It seeks 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. .

Program Area(s)

The grantmaker has identified the following area(s) of interest:

Arts and Culture

The program funds work that Illuminates the human condition, nurturing empathy and expanding a vision of what’s possible.

Climate Change

The foundation will address climate change as a consequence of progress in human development and economic prosperity, and it will fund promising work that helps activate American ingenuity in pursuit of three interrelated goals: 1) Increasing access to modern energy for the world’s poor; 2) Stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a low level; and 3) Improving resilience for those most vulnerable to the negative consequences of climate variability and change.

Constituency Building

The program funds work that achieves greater influence and leadership for individuals and communities through sustained organizing, coalition building and advocacy.

Disruptive Ideas

The program funds work that asks difficult questions and applying disruptive ideas to challenge, and when appropriate, move beyond conventional thinking and traditional divides.

Grants to Individuals Program

Fellowships to individuals for one year to pursue a social or economic objective .


In order to address inequality, the foundation will invest in work with strong potential to catalyze new and effective pathways to economic opportunity, particularly for women and people of color, and that takes seriously the need to: 1) Improve quality of life for the poor; 2) Move toward greater equality of opportunity, meaning that where someone is born on the income distribution would not limit their chances to move up; and 3) Challenge structures and ideas that allow a vastly disproportionate share of the nation’s wealth to be concentrated in the hands of a few.

Religious Traditions and Contemplative Practices

The program funds work that cultivates the power of religious traditions to anchor, connect and inspire us, and contemplative practices to bring awareness, fresh insights and creativity.

The Nathan Cummings Foundation Fellowship

The program provides three individuals with $100,000 each to pursue a social or economic justice objective over one year. The proposed projects must demonstrate exceptional vision and relate to at least one of the foundation’s focus areas: a) Inequality and/or b) Climate Change. And use at least one of the foundation’s four approaches: 1) Arts and Culture; 2) Constituency Building; 3) Disruptive Ideas and 4) Religious Traditions and Contemplative Practices. The fellowship requires a yearlong commitment to work in the foundation's office. It is advisable to live within commuting distance of New York City. See web site for application and additional information. You may contact: .

Fields of Interest

  • Antidiscrimination
  • Climate change
  • Communication media
  • Diseases and conditions
  • Environment
  • Environmental and resource rights
  • Environmental health
  • Film and video
  • Health
  • Health care access
  • Human rights
  • Individual liberties
  • Interfaith
  • Journalism
  • Labor rights
  • Performance art
  • Publishing
  • Radio
  • Spirituality
  • Television
  • Voter education and registration
  • Web media
International Interests
  • Israel
Population Groups
  • Economically disadvantaged people
  • Ethnic and racial groups
  • Low-income and poor people
  • People of African descent
  • Associations
  • Coalitions and alliances

Financial Data

Year ended 2014-12-31

Assets: $464,139,650 (market value)

Expenditures: $32,332,018

Total giving: $18,273,883

Qualifying distributions: $23,979,940