Discovery Museum Awarded $100,000 Cummings Grant for Prison Outreach Project

ACTON, MA 2022 – Discovery Museum is one of 140 local nonprofits to receive grants of $100,000 to $500,000 each through Cummings Foundation’s $25 Million Grant Program. The Museum was chosen from a total of 580 applicants during a competitive review process. It will receive $100,000 over three years.

The funds will support the Museum’s Prison Outreach project, undertaken in partnership with Concord Prison Outreach and MCI Concord’s BRAVE (Building Responsible Adults through Validation and Education) Unit, which houses up to 30 fathers, most under the age of 26, and 15 older fathers as mentors. The project objective is to maintain and strengthen relationships between young, incarcerated fathers at MCI-Concord and their visiting children through education, resources, and shared family activities.

“The generous support of Cummings Foundation will help Discovery Museum provide educational resources and playful activities to support young fathers in the BRAVE Unit and help them become more confident and capable parents,” said Brindha Muniappan, Senior Director of the Museum Experience. “We will amplify the fathers’ understanding of their children’s development and build skills for supporting their growth and well-being. Most importantly, this project will help young fathers build and sustain trusting relationships with their children, mitigating some of the trauma of separation for both the parent and the child, and potentially ending cycles of incarceration. We are so grateful to the Cummings Foundation for this funding to help us serve families that are exceedingly difficult to reach and children who face profound threats to future learning and development.”

The Museum’s Education Team will build nine age-appropriate themed activity kits for fathers to explore with their children during family visits, with corresponding guides in written and pictorial versions. Discovery Museum will also expand the BRAVE Unit library with children’s books that complement the kit activities and which are culturally notable. Free Museum admission passes and family memberships will be provided to the families of the BRAVE Unit residents.

The Cummings $25 Million Grant Program supports Massachusetts nonprofits that are based in and primarily serve Middlesex, Essex, and Suffolk counties.

Through this place-based initiative, Cummings Foundation aims to give back in the areas where it owns commercial property. Its buildings are all managed, at no cost to the Foundation, by its affiliate, Cummings Properties. This Woburn-based commercial real estate firm leases and manages 11 million square feet of debt-free space, the majority of which exclusively benefits the Foundation.

“We are so fortunate in greater Boston to have such effective nonprofits, plus a wealth of talented, dedicated professionals and volunteers to run them,” said Cummings Foundation executive director Joyce Vyriotes. “We are indebted to them for the work they do each day to provide for basic needs, break down barriers to education and health resources, and work toward a more equitable society.”

With the help of about 90 volunteers, the Foundation first identified 140 organizations to receive grants of at least $100,000 each. Among the winners were first-time recipients as well as nonprofits that had previously received Cummings Foundation grants. Forty of this latter group of repeat recipients were then selected to have their grants elevated to 10-year awards ranging from $200,000 to $500,000 each.

“Our volunteers bring diverse backgrounds and perspectives, which is so critical to our grant selection process,” said Vyriotes. “Through this democratized approach to philanthropy, they decide more than half the grants every year.”

This year’s grant recipients represent a wide variety of causes, including food insecurity, immigrant and refugee services, social justice, education, and mental health services. The nonprofits are spread across 45 different cities and towns.

The complete list of 140 grant winners, plus more than 900 previous recipients, is available at

Cummings Foundation has now awarded more than $375 million to greater Boston nonprofits.


About Discovery Museum

Discovery Museum is a hands-on museum that blends science, nature, and play, inspiring families to explore and learn together. The museum and its Discovery Woods accessible outdoor nature playscape and 550sf treehouse blend the best of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) learning on a beautiful 4.5-acre campus abutting 180 acres of conservation land in Acton, MA, about 20 miles west of Boston. Originally founded in 1982 and expanded to two museums in 1987, the museum reopened in a single, 16,000sf accessible building after a complete renovation and expansion in early 2018. Hands-on, open-ended exhibits developed by professional educators inspire curiosity and exploration, providing a fun and engaging experience for children and adults to discover their world together. Serving families and schools from towns throughout the region, the Museum is devoted to informal education that enhances classroom learning. Discovery Museum is committed to accessibility and is a proud recipient of the 2017 Massachusetts Commonwealth Award, the only winner in the Access category, and a 2018 LEAD® Community Asset Award from The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Discovery Museum is a community-supported non-profit organization. Discovery Museum programming is supported in part by a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

About Cummings Foundation

Woburn-based Cummings Foundation, Inc. was established in 1986 by Joyce and Bill Cummings and has grown to be one of the largest private foundations in New England. The Foundation directly operates its own charitable subsidiaries, including New Horizons retirement communities, in Marlborough and Woburn, and Cummings Health Sciences, LLC. Additional information is available at