Thriving Community Partnership

What started as a friendly interaction over breakfast has turned into so much more for Endicott College and Bill Cummings.

Endicott students and the Gull with a $100K for 100 program sign Photo by David Le
Est. Read Time

Bill Cummings’ Endicott College connection started with a familiar interaction, one that many people associated with the College experienced at some level.

“I met (former) Endicott President, Dr. Richard E. Wylie, at breakfast for a Beverly Chamber of Commerce event when we first began development of the Cummings Center,” recalls Cummings. “I happened to be sitting next to him. Over a long period of time, I developed a tremendous respect for Dick and through him, of course, for the College.”

Endicott President Dr. Steven R. DiSalvo with alumni at the Cummings CenterEndicott President, Steven R. DiSalvo, Ph.D.,
with Endicott alumni at the Cummings Center.

That breakfast turned into a thriving community partnership between Endicott and Cummings, who founded the highly successful commercial real estate company Cummings Properties—based in Woburn, Mass.—in 1970. Cummings and Wylie also shared plenty of laughs throughout the years as they would joke back and forth about who had the most white hair.

Cummings—well-known as a billion-dollar philanthropist who recently completed his self-written autobiography, Starting Small and Making It Big—was drawn to Endicott’s entrepreneurial spirit.

And thanks in part to the $100K for 100 program, Endicott’s entrepreneurial spirit continues to thrive. Over the years, Endicott received three grants from Cummings Foundation of $100,000 each.

The last two grants have gone directly to Endicott’s Colin and Erika Angle Center for Entrepreneurship, including as recently as 2018. This latest grant benefits thousands of community members in addition to students, faculty, and alumni by expanding the Entrepreneur/Executive-in-Residence position, establishing a Startup Success Office (SSO), offering a startup boot camp open to the public, and setting up a regional network for women ¬≠entrepreneurs.

“I met (former) Endicott President, Dr. Richard E. Wylie, at breakfast for a Beverly Chamber of Commerce event when we first began development of the Cummings Center. I happened to be sitting next to him. Over a long period of time, I developed a tremendous respect for Dick and through him, of course, for the College.”
—Bill Cummings, philanthropist, author, and community partner

The $100K for 100 program is designed to support nonprofits in Middlesex, Essex, and Suffolk counties. Through this place-based initiative, Cummings Foundation aims to give back to areas where it owns commercial buildings, including Cummings Center in Beverly, Mass. This program is a crucial part of Cummings Foundation’s $20 Million Grant Program, which also includes 25 10-year grants of up to $500,000 each. In 2019, that $20 million number rose to $25 million.

Beyond the incredibly successful $100K for 100 program and its association with Endicott, Cummings and his wife, Joyce, also have links to the College as the 2016 Commencement speakers.

Cummings is also proud to have eight Endicott graduates currently working full-time at Cummings Properties in a variety of roles. “All of these colleagues are excellent representatives of Endicott,” he says. This past academic year, Cummings also returned to Endicott for an author talk and Q&A session regarding his autobiography.

Bill Cummings signs his book, Starting
Small and Making it Big, An Entrepreneur's
Journey to Billion-Dollar Philanthropist. 

Whenever he speaks in front of a crowd of young, aspiring entrepreneurs, Cummings tends to include the following advice, in no particular order: effort is going to have an enormous impact on your careers; it is usually easy to change careers along the way; it is extremely important to curb week-to-week spending and develop a regular pattern of meaningful savings; values and hard work are crucial; and everyone needs to get satisfaction out of what they do, not just money. 

A Q&A session often follows his book talks and other speeches, and one of the questions he’s frequently asked is about the giving pledge—his and Joyce’s commitment to donate the vast majority of their fortune to philanthropic efforts. People usually ask him how his adult children feel about that, but Cummings says they all are extremely supportive. At last count, Cummings Foundation has awarded grants totaling $260 million and that number continues to grow.