SFS Awarded $100,000 to Share Environmental Research with North Shore Communities

Posted: June 2, 2014

The School for Field Studies (SFS) announced today that it has been selected to receive a $100,000 grant from Cummings Foundation as part of the Foundation’s 2014 $100K for 100 program. Beverly-based SFS, the premier environmental study abroad provider for undergraduates operating in 11 countries, is one of 100 nonprofits chosen for Cummings Foundation grants in a competitive review process of 430 applicants this year.

The $100,000 grant, which will be disbursed over five years, funds SFS’s initiative to share its international environmental research with students, STEM teachers, and the greater North Shore community. SFS’s internationally known faculty will speak to local school groups, educators, and community members about critical environmental issues, supplement local STEM curriculum with videos of environmental field research, and liaise directly with local conservation groups.

“Community reciprocity is a central pillar of our mission with our host communities abroad,” said SFS President James Cramer. “The Cummings Foundation grant will now enable us to work cooperatively with schools and conservation organizations on the North Shore as well, to promote greater environmental awareness, and illustrate how impartial scientific research is critical to developing sound policies for the region and beyond.”

This project will build upon the momentum created last year through SFS Headquarters’ public lecture series at Cummings Center. On two dates in 2013, SFS academic leaders presented “Room to Roam: the Challenges of Human-Wildlife Conflict in East Africa,” and “Transcending Topography: Migration of High Altitude Birds in the Himalayas” to standing-room only crowds.

SFS alumnus and Boston University student Greg Zegas, who attended the lectures, said: “I’m very impressed by the strength of SFS’s international relationships and its effort to build a sense of community between its students, staff, and researchers. After participating in last summer’s SFS program, I feel part of a community stretching between SFS and Bhutan. For me this lecture was a chance to strengthen those ties.”

Now in its third year, the $100K for 100 program awards $10 million in grants annually to nonprofits that are not only based in but also primarily serve Middlesex, Essex, and Suffolk counties. This year, the program is awarding 38 grants in Middlesex County, 25 in Essex County, and 37 in Suffolk County.

Through this “place-based” grants program, Cummings Foundation aims to give back in the area where it owns commercial buildings, all of which are managed by its affiliate Cummings Properties. Founded in 1970 by Bill Cummings, the Woburn-based commercial real estate firm leases and manages more than 10 million square feet of commercial space, the majority of which exclusively benefits the Foundation.

Joel Swets, Cummings Foundation’s executive director, said, “Cummings Foundation is very committed to the local communities where the staff and clients of the Cummings organization live and work. We are delighted to support very worthy nonprofits like The School for Field Studies that are working tirelessly for the benefit of the people they serve.”

This year’s diverse group of grant recipients represents a wide variety of causes, including underserved populations, education, healthcare, hunger relief, and homelessness prevention. Most of the grants will be paid over two to five years.

Representatives from the recipient organizations will attend an exclusive Grantee Reception tonight at TradeCenter 128 in Woburn to celebrate the $10 million infusion of funding into greater Boston’s nonprofit sector. The complete list of 100 grant award winners will be posted at www.CummingsFoundation.org.