Nathan Cummings Foundation Grant
Nathan Cummings Foundation
Grant amount: Up to US $1,200,000
Fields of work: Sustainability Social Justice / Human Rights Climate Change Resilience Government Accountability & Transparency
Applicant type: Nonprofit, Indigenous Group
Funding uses: Education / Outreach, General Operating Expense, Project / Program
Location of project: United States
Location of residency: United States
NOTE: NCF accepts letters of inquiry year-round, and conducts three rounds of grantmaking each year. There are no deadlines for Letters of Inquiry — LOIs are accepted on a rolling basis and are reviewed by NCF staff within 60 days.
The Nathan Cummings Foundation is a multigenerational family foundation, rooted in the Jewish tradition of social justice, working to create a more just, vibrant, sustainable, and democratic society. We partner with social movements, organizations and individuals who have creative and catalytic solutions to climate change and inequality.
Pursuing Justice. For People + Planet. The Nathan Cummings Foundation is a multigenerational family foundation, rooted in the Jewish tradition of social justice, working to create a more just, vibrant, sustainable and democratic society through our grantmaking in the United States and Israel.
We focus on finding solutions to the two most challenging problems of our time – the climate crisis and growing inequality – and aim to transform the systems and mindsets that hinder progress toward a more sustainable and equitable future for all people, particularly women and people of color.
Climate Change + Inequality
From the Paris climate agreement to Puerto Rico, the world has declared the climate crisis one of the greatest challenges in our history. It will take all of our ingenuity and resolve to build an inclusive clean economy that lifts people out of poverty and moves everyone, especially those on the front lines, out of the devastating path we now face. We will address the climate crisis from an equity perspective and hold accountable the entrenched interests that have left our nation’s infrastructure and communities vulnerable and have stalled the energy and economic transformation we need. We’ll invest in solutions at the local, state and national level and join forces with diverse, enlightened leaders to chart a new course for a sustainable future.
Millions of Americans face overwhelming obstacles shaped by social hierarchies of race, ethnicity, gender, income, education level or zip code, which restrict their opportunities. In order to address inequality, we will invest in work that reduces implicit bias and discrimination in our public policy, systems and markets. We are particularly concerned about the effects of criminal justice policies and practices on the economic security of hard-working families. With our partners, we seek new and effective pathways to improve quality of life for people and level the playing fields of opportunity. We challenge ideas, policies, practices and systems that perpetuate racial and ethnic stereotypes, criminalize people in poverty, and make it possible for a few to hold a vastly disproportionate share of the nation’s income, wealth and assets.
From our voice, to our grants and our investments, we are using all of our resources to achieve our mission. We are in the business of changemaking, not just grantmaking.
- Investing in Bold Leaders
- Our grantees and Fellows are courageous leaders willing to work in new ways, forge unusual and powerful alliances, and push breakthrough ideas that make the ‘impossible’ possible.
- Using All of Our Assets
- We are committed to leveraging 100% of our assets toward our mission through impact investing and active ownership strategies.
- Raising Our Voice
- How we do our philanthropy is as important as what we do with our philanthropy. We are using our voice, strengthening fields and expanding our networks to increase our impact.
The Foundation’s four focus areas together form an integrated framework to advance a healthy planet and democracy.
Racial + Economic Justice
We work to reverse generations of concentrated wealth and racialized power and patriarchy to get to the root causes of inequality and inequity. To advance racial and economic justice, we stand with groups like Color of Change, who speak out for and with those who are marginalized and criminalized. We’re building power, income and wealth for working people through our partnership with organizations like the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the Workers Defense Project.
NCF supports strategies that challenge policies that criminalize low-income people and people of color, stripping families and communities of their humanity and stability. We invest in leaders, organizations and coalitions working to expand economic opportunity and racial justice by eradicating institutional practices steeped in racial hierarchy, discrimination and implicit bias. We partner with those building pathways to greater economic security, inclusion and mobility for all people by promoting business ownership, wealth and asset-building for people in socially and economically excluded communities. Advancing a truly just society requires creative problem solving along with a diverse set of approaches. Strategies that center and elevate the voices, stories and leadership of directly impacted people, along with the use of art, religious or ethical traditions, are critical to fostering positive cultural shifts toward inclusion and pluralism.
Specifically, we support innovative ideas, strategies, and programs that:
- Increase Income: Improve working conditions for the most vulnerable communities — people of color, women, immigrants and persons with justice-involved backgrounds – to ensure that all work is fair, safe and equitable.
- Build Wealth: Build assets and wealth that lead families to greater economic security and mobility, advancing racial, gender, ethnic and economic justice.
- Disrupt Mass Incarceration: Support critical interventions that reimagine our criminal justice system and overturn policies that disproportionately target low-income people, women and communities of color.
- Reduce Debt: Support necessary interventions at the intersection of increasing income, building wealth and disrupting mass incarceration — recognizing that the issue of debt (who is burdened and who pays) is central to efforts working to achieve greater economic and racial justice.
Inclusive Clean Economy
We support a just transition to an inclusive clean economy where prosperity and a healthy environment go hand in hand. Partners like the Climate Justice Alliance, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Jobs to Move America and the NAACP Environment and Climate Justice Program are advocating for solutions that bring the environmental and economic benefits of addressing climate disruption and energy use to frontline communities first, not last.
We support bold leaders who strive to create an inclusive clean economy, sparking an energy and economic transformation that reduces harmful carbon emissions in replicable, scalable and equitable ways. Achieving this requires nurturing a more diverse and inclusive movement that both builds power for frontline communities, and shifts narratives from ones that undermine a clean inclusive economy to ones that feature more voices and hold those in charge accountable. We support investments and multi-sector collaborations that spur sustainable development, inclusive wealth building and job creation. Philanthropic capital is critical, and we work to direct it to underfunded parts of the movement.
Specifically, we will support innovative ideas, policies and programs that:
- Build Power: Engage broad and diverse constituencies, mobilize resources and strengthen the movement by supporting frontline leaders advocating for a just and inclusive clean energy economy.
- Shift Narratives: Amplify religious, cultural, business and community stories and demonstrate that resolving the climate crisis and a sustainable economy go hand in hand.
- Demonstrate Solutions and Change Market Behavior: Support models that deliver replicable and scalable climate and clean energy sector benefits concurrently with living wage jobs and inclusive wealth building opportunities.
Corporate + Political Accountability
We activate investors and businesses as allies, advocates and leaders on climate and social justice and work to decrease concentrated corporate power and limit corporate influence in our political system. We support partners like Ceres, Open MIC and the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, and use our standing as an investor to strengthen corporate and political accountability.
NCF focuses our corporate and political accountability work on efforts to hold corporations accountable for the ways in which they impact progress on racial and economic justice and the creation of an inclusive clean economy. We use our standing as both a grantmaker and an investor to spur greater transparency, drive changes in philanthropic, corporate and government behavior, decrease concentrated corporate power and wealth, and challenge problematic narratives underpinning our economy and markets.
Specifically, NCF will support organizations working to:
- Activate Investors: Address inequality and climate change by activating investors to press for increased transparency and drive changes to corporate behavior while challenging the notion that corporations’ primary duty is to their shareholders;
- Decrease Concentrated Corporate Power: Decrease concentrated corporate power through a focus on antitrust law and competition policy, challenging the dominance of the consumer welfare theory and ensuring that the role of concentrated corporate power in driving inequality is widely recognized;
- Leverage Corporations as Allies: Leverage businesses as allies and advocates for progress on important social and environmental issues; and
- Counter Corporate Influence on Government: Highlight and counter undue corporate influence on politicians and regulatory agencies and counter attempts to suppress the role of science and the truth in decision making.
Voice, Creativity + Culture
We aim to shift dominant narratives about race, class, gender and ethnicity and build radical solidarity and empathy through voice, creativity and culture. We support art, media, and cultural criticism that challenge injustice like Firelight Media and the Critical Minded Initiative. We invest in visionaries like the Poor People’s Campaign and Bend the Arc who use faith, spiritual, and cultural practices to seed social transformation and spiritually rooted movements for change.
We recognize the power of storytelling and the arts to reflect and sustain traditions, languages, history, hopes, dreams and truths across generations. By raising the voices of poets and prophets, artists, spiritual leaders and culture shapers to shift the dominant narratives about race, class, gender and ethnicity, we can expand our collective capacity for radical empathy. We encourage voices and values that challenge imbalanced power dynamics and expand racial and economic justice.
Through the Voice, Creativity, and Culture portfolio, NCF supports innovative ideas and portfolios that:
- Artistic Practice: Support arts organizations with a deep commitment to social justice and shift perspectives by supporting new narratives that nurture empathy, understanding and a culture of shared responsibility.
- Storytelling Strategies: Support different modes of storytelling — journalistic, critical and strategic — that contribute to social justice, hold the powerful accountable, and envision a world with respect and empathy at its core.
- Moral Action: Support religious and spiritually grounded activists and organizations who advocate for social justice and democratic values and shift perspectives by advancing new narratives of radical empathy and shared responsibility.
- Spiritual Practices: Support spiritual, cultural, artistic, and contemplative practices that nurture the creativity, resilience, empathy, and healing of activists, organizations, and leaders advancing social change.
You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.
- Your organization (or your fiscal sponsor) must have a 501(c)(3) or 7871 (Indian Tribal Governments) U.S. Internal Revenue Service tax-exempt status?
- The work you are requesting funding for must take place within the United States.
- Your organization’s policies and practices must provide equal opportunity to all persons, regardless of race or color, religion or creed, alienage or citizenship status, sex, national origin, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, familial status, military status or any other characteristic protected by law.
- Types of support that can be requested:
- Project support
- General operating support
- We currently DO NOT accept letter of inquiries for the following programs:
- 501(c)(4) organizations
- Academic scholarships
- Campus or prison education
- Capital or building campaigns, endowment funds or funding for public spaces
- Community arts and theater-based projects
- Holocaust-related projects
- Jewish, Hebrew, or arts education
- Projects addressing diseases or personal health
- Social or direct service projects
- Sponsorships, fundraising events, or galas
- Individuals (NCF supports individuals through the Fellowship Program)
- Presently, NCF is not accepting any Letters of Intent or proposals regarding our Israel-related funding as we are in a learning and strategy development phase.
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