Backyard Growers recipient of Cummings Foundation $100K for 100 grant

Backyard Growers is the proud recipient of a Cummings Foundation $100K for 100 grant!

Backyard Growers is one of 100 local nonprofits to receive grants of $100,000 each through Cummings Foundation’s “$100K for 100” program. The Gloucester-based organization was chosen from a total of 549 applicants during a competitive review process.


Backyard Growers is a grassroots organization helping to reshape Gloucester’s relationship with food and healthy eating. We provide resources and support to establish vegetable gardens at homes, housing communities, organizations, and schools, and provide learning opportunities in growing and preparing fresh produce in order to create life-long gardeners inspired by the power of growing and eating one’s own food.

Representing Backyard Growers, Lara Lepionka, Executive Director, and Anna Swanson, Community Programs Manager, will join approximately 300 other guests at a reception at TradeCenter 128 in Woburn to celebrate the $10 million infusion into Greater Boston’s nonprofit sector. With the conclusion of this grant cycle, Cummings Foundation has now awarded more than $170 million to local nonprofits alone.

“We are thrilled to be among the 100 organizations receiving this generous funding from the Cummings Foundation,” said Lara Lepionka. “This grant will make it possible for Backyard Growers to increase the number of children and families we serve, and expand gardening resources in Gloucester. We’re so excited to have the support we need to help more people learn how to grow their own fresh, healthy food.”

Backyard Growers will use the Cummings Foundation money to expand their signature Salad Days School Garden program into new school districts in Massachusetts, develop new garden education programs at O’Maley Innovation Middle School, and expand community gardening resources in Gloucester for low- to moderate-income families and older adults.

The $100K for 100 program supports nonprofits that are not only based in but also primarily serve Middlesex, Essex, and Suffolk counties. This year, the program is benefiting 35 different cities and towns within the Commonwealth.

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. Founded in 1970 by Bill Cummings of Winchester, the Woburn-based commercial real estate firm leases and manages more than 10 million square feet of space, the majority of which exclusively benefits the Foundation.

“Nonprofit organizations like Backyard Growers are vital to the local communities where our colleagues and clients live and work,” said Joel Swets, Cummings Foundation’s executive director. “ We are delighted to invest in their efforts.”

This year’s diverse group of grant recipients represents a wide variety of causes, including homelessness prevention and affordable housing, education, violence prevention, and food insecurity. Most of the grants will be paid over two to five years.

The complete list of 100 grant winners is available at

About Backyard Growers

Copy of byg-logo2014color (1)Founded in 2010 by urban farmer Lara Lepionka as a way to help her neighbors stretch their budgets by growing their own food, Backyard Growers has grown exponentially to include a suite of programs serving students in the Gloucester Schools and a broad segment of Gloucester’s low- to moderate-income residents with a focus on serving children and their families. Since 2010, Backyard Growers has built over 200 new garden beds in Gloucester, serving over 2,500 individuals.

About Cummings Foundation

Cummings FoundationWoburn-based Cummings Foundation, Inc, was established in 1986 by Joyce and Bill Cummings of Winchester. With assets exceeding $1.4 billion, it is one of the largest foundations in New England. The Foundation directly operates its own charitable subsidiaries, including two New Horizons retirement communities, in Marlborough and Woburn. Its largest single commitment to date was $50 million to Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. Additional information is available at