Bill Cummings (philanthropist)

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Bill Cummings
EducationTufts University
  • real estate developer
  • philanthropist
Net worthUS$500 million[1] in 2018
Spouse(s)Joyce Cummings
WebsiteOfficial website

Bill Cummings is an American philanthropist; his charitable foundation has nearly $2 billion in assets.[1][3][4] The Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine[5] and the Cummings Veterinary Medical Center, both at Tufts University, are both named after him, because of major gifts he made to those institutions. In 2018, Forbes Magazine ranked him on its annual Top Givers List (which was based on gifts made in 2017).[6]

Early life[edit]

Cummings grew up in Medford, Massachusetts[1] and graduated from Tufts University in 1958 with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics.[7]


Real estate[edit]

A vintage postcard with the United Shoe Machinery factory in Beverly, Massachusetts, now Cummings Center

Cummings founded his real estate company, Cummings Properties, in 1970.[3][8] The company, Cummings Properties, started with one small building in Woburn, Massachusetts, and has expanded to include 11 million square feet across 11 Boston communities.[9] In 1996, Cummings bought the former factory of the United Shoe Machinery Corporation in Beverly, Massachusetts; it is now known as Cummings Center.[10]


Cummings and his wife Joyce established the Cummings Foundation in 1986, pledging to give 10 percent of their income to it annually but eventually committed to most of the family's commercial real estate holdings to the foundation.[3]

In 2004, Cummings made his largest gift to date, a $50 million donation to Tufts' veterinary school; it was the largest endowment in the institution's history.[11]

In 2011, they signed The Giving Pledge,[2] reflecting their desire to donate substantially all of their wealth to charity.[12]

In 2012, the foundation started its "$100K for 100" program, which gives out 100 grants of $100,000 every year to nonprofits supporting human services, education, healthcare, and social justice in Boston.[13][14]

His foundation gave $15 million, which Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation then matched, to establish University of Global Health Equity in Rwanda. The school graduated its first class of master's students in 2017.[15]

In 2017, his foundation gave $35 million to charity.[1][14]

As of 2018, Cummings Foundation is one of the largest foundations in New England, and has donated over $225 million.[9] The foundation also has several subsidiaries, including the nonprofit New Horizons retirement communities.[3][16]

In November 2019, Cummings was recognized by the New England Real Estate Journal with the Lifetime Achievement Award.[17]


Cummings published his autobiography, Starting Small and Making it Big, in 2018.[18][19]


  1. ^ a b c d Debter, Lauren. "From Fruit Punch To Real Estate: The Quiet Rise of One Of America's Biggest Philanthropists".
  2. ^ a b "Joyce and Bill Cummings". Giving Pledge.
  3. ^ a b c d "A Foundation for Giving: How This Real Estate Mogul Has Built His Philanthropy".
  4. ^ "IRS Form 990" (PDF).
  5. ^ "Cummings School Story - Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University".
  6. ^ Wang, Jennifer. "America's Top 50 Givers". Forbes.
  7. ^ "BBJ presents Visionary Award to real estate veteran and philanthropist Bill Cummings - Boston Business Journal". Boston Business Journal. Retrieved 2016-10-20.
  8. ^ "Helping prevent future genocides and intercultural violence through genocide and Holocaust education".
  9. ^ a b "Woburn Man Makes Forbes List Of Top 50 Philanthropists". 26 October 2018.
  10. ^ Leighton, Paul. "Book tells story of Cummings' remarkable rise". Salem News.
  11. ^ "DVM360 Magazine".
  12. ^ "".
  13. ^ "Asian American women's shelter celebrates 25 years". 1 November 2018.
  14. ^ a b Wang, Jennifer. "The Greatest Givers: Meet America's Top Philanthropists".
  15. ^ "Training the next generation of global health leaders in Africa". Devex. 31 May 2017.
  16. ^ "Cummings Foundation Donates $10M To Boston Area Nonprofits". 20 April 2018.
  17. ^ "Bill Cummings, one of the most prolific philanthropists in Mass. history to receive NEREJ's Lifetime Achievement Award". Retrieved 2020-03-12.
  18. ^ "Book Review: Starting Small and Making It Big - An Entrepreneur's Journey to Billion-Dollar Philanthropist". 7 May 2018.
  19. ^ "Philanthropist Bill Cummings adds a new title to his portfolio: author - The Boston Globe".