NELF’s Equalizer Institute Wins $225,000 Cummings Foundation Grant



News Release – For Immediate Release – News Release
July 14, 2023

New England Legal Foundation Awarded $225,000 Cummings Foundation Grant to Support Underrepresented Entrepreneurs

dan and christina
NELF President Dan Winslow (left) and Equalizer Institute COO Christina Knowles (right) with Cummings Properties co-founder Bill Cummings in Woburn. (NELF Photo)


BOSTON– The New England Legal Foundation is one of 150 local nonprofits that will share in $30 million through Cummings Foundation’s major annual grants program. The Boston-based organization was selected from a total of 630 applicants during a competitive review process. NELF will receive $225,000 over three years. The grant will help support NELF’s “Equalizer Institute”, a new social `economic justice initiative aimed at providing free corporate legal services to underrepresented entrepreneurs.

Joyce and Bill Cummings, founders of Cummings Properties, LLC, started distributing funding to area nonprofits in 1986, with a focus on the communities where Cummings Properties conducted business. By 2002, Cummings Foundation had been formalized and expanded. The vast majority of Foundation funding is generated internally by the business arm, and Cummings Foundation also offers real estate space to area nonprofits and community organizations.

To date, Cummings Foundation has donated $500 million to Greater Boston nonprofits and focuses on organizations “working to improve the lives of community members through education, healthcare, human services, and social justice programs.”

The $30 Million Grant Program awards 150 local nonprofits with $30 million of funding, to be paid out annually for three years or ten years. The Equalizer Institute will provide pro bono corporate legal aid to historically under-represented and under-resourced entrepreneurs, including women, the BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities, new and first-generation Americans, returning citizens, entrepreneurs with disabilities, veterans, students, etc.

The high cost of legal services is a major barrier to entry for small business owners and is often prohibitive entirely for many would-be entrepreneurs. By eliminating the burden of legal costs, the Equalizer Institute will provide a chance for entrepreneurs from all backgrounds to launch or bring to scale their small business.

Dan Winslow, President of the New England Legal Foundation, says: “NELF is honored to be chosen as a multi-year awardee of Cummings Foundation’s $30 Million Grant Program. Due to the generosity of the Cummings Foundation, the Equalizer Institute will open its first Massachusetts clinic in 2024, with plans to eventually have clinics in all six New England states. With the support from the Cummings Foundation, NELF’s Equalizer Institute levels the playing field for those seeking the American dream of free enterprise and business ownership.”

In addition to in-house attorneys and staff, the NELF’s Equalizer Institute is partnering with Massachusetts law schools and law firms to serve its entrepreneur clients and welcomes inquiries from potential partners.

(l-r) NELF’s Dan Winslow, Christina Knowles and Camaryn Sapienza (NELF Photo)




About Cummings Foundation

Woburn-based Cummings Foundation, Inc. was established in 1986 by Joyce and Bill Cummings of Winchester, MA 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


About the New England Legal Foundation

Founded in 1977, the New England Legal Foundation (NELF – is the leading non-partisan, non-profit public interest law firm in the region dedicated to economic liberty. NELF’s ongoing mission is to champion free enterprise, property rights, limited government based on rule of law, and inclusive economic growth. We believe that free enterprise is a foundational value of a democratic society and the best opportunity for people to lift themselves to prosperity.


Support Causes Like This