Tufts Community Appeal Offers a Way to Make ‘More Impactful, Larger Gifts’

A matching grant will double the impact of contributions on local nonprofits, Tufts financial aid, and programs across all campuses

The next time you find yourself at the Medford Public Library with a hankering for a refreshingly cold beverage, you’ll be in luck: you can roll up to Chapters Coffee Carts—First Chapter, a small cafe located on the second floor, and grab a drink from the new refrigerator recently installed there. Along with a new microwave and blender, that refrigerator was purchased through a grant from the Tufts Community Grants (TCG) program and ultimately benefits the adults with disabilities employed by the nonprofit cafe.

“I am privileged every day to see firsthand the positive effects Chapters Coffee Carts has had on our employees and on the Medford community,” says Carol Nigro, the nonprofit’s founder. “The refrigerator has made our products more visible to our customers, thus increasing our sales. With our new microwave, we have added additional items to our menu, and our new blender has enabled us to keep up with our customer demands for smoothies during the summer months.”

But, most importantly, the grant from Tufts has allowed Chapters Coffee Carts to further its goal of creating opportunities for individuals with disabilities to gain meaningful employment within their communities.

“Because of the generosity of members of the Tufts community, small nonprofits like ours are able to continue to build stronger and more inclusive communities,” Nigro says.

The cafe is one of 35 local nonprofits that received a grant last year from the TCG program, which is fully funded by donations from Tufts faculty and staff during the Tufts Community Appeal (TCA), the university's annual internal fundraising campaign.

The TCA, which is currently running, takes place from November 1 through December 31. The TCG program is just one option for giving. Faculty and staff can also make donations to Tufts financial aid or any program or initiative at Tufts that is meaningful to them. Last year, the campaign supported several Tufts programs and initiatives, and many donors designated multiple areas for giving.

Enabling Real Change

Associate Professor of Economics Laura Gee who serves on the TCA’s all-volunteer board of faculty and staff, notes that she gives to the TCA and joined the board in part because the campaign supports student financial aid.

“I was a recipient of financial aid when I was an undergraduate,” says Gee. “I’m always interested in ways we can expand the number of people at Tufts who are able to attend with the help of financial support.”

Gee’s involvement overlaps with her research interests. As an economist, she focuses on the provision of public goods, studying systems that supply goods and services to anybody, regardless of the recipients’ contributions.

“When I talk to people in the Tufts community about the TCA, they sometimes say, ‘I get my paycheck from Tufts—why would I want to give money back to Tufts from that paycheck?’ says Gee. “I tell them, ‘Hopefully, there’s alignment in the values you and your employer have, and you’re giving to them because they’re in a position to take however much you choose to give and add it to other funds to create a larger grant that could enable real change in an organization.’ It’s a way of making more impactful, larger gifts to the community than you might be able to make on your own.”

Gee points out that one important aspect of the TCA is the freedom it gives to donors to specify how they’d like their contribution distributed. “There’s research that shows donors are more likely to give when they can earmark the thing that they would like their donations to go to,” she notes. “The TCA allows donors to make a gift to any area or program at Tufts that’s important to them, or to give to the surrounding community.”

Offering Support and Welcome

Teresa Rodriguez, director of enrollment for Somerville Public Schools and the Somerville Family Learning Collaborative, says that her department within the Somerville Public School system was lucky to be chosen to receive a Tufts Community Grant.

Most families new to Somerville who register children for school each year are able to complete the registration process online. But, as Rodriguez explains, each year, 350 to 400 families need technical or language assistance to complete the enrollment process. And in some families, parents or guardians aren’t able to accompany their children to the office for the registration process. Offering these families the assistance they need is the mission of the Somerville Family Learning Collaborative.

It’s meaningful for the families that visit the office—and for the students who arrive on their own—to be greeted with a small, useful gift, Rodriguez explains. The grant Rodriguez’s office received from the TCA allowed the group to purchase hats, gloves, scarves, and multilingual children’s books to give to new families as gifts. Rodriguez says she and her colleagues enjoy giving the gifts as part of a process of welcoming new families to the Somerville Public School system—especially given that some of the families face difficult journeys before they arrive in Somerville.

“This past year, for example, we were able to offer a hat and gloves to a new high school student whose family is not in the area to support her," says Rodriguez. "She could pick the colors and styles she liked, and that allowed us to offer a little hope and a lighter mood.”

Matching Grant Amplifies Impact

Thanks to Cummings Foundation, started in 1986 by Tufts Trustee Emeritus Bill Cummings, A58, H06, J97P, M97P, and his wife, Joyce, H17, J97P, M97P, donations made to the Tufts Community Grants program will have triple the impact this year. For every one dollar donated by Tufts faculty and staff during the TCA, Cummings Foundation will give two dollars, up to $200,000. Last year, a generous gift from the foundation tripled the $35,000 raised for community grants to $105,000.

“To see Tufts University faculty and staff coming together to support the Tufts Community Grants program in such a robust way year after year is incredible,” said Bill Cummings, A58, H06, J97P, M97P, founder of Cummings Properties and co-founder of Cummings Foundation.

“We are proud to help amplify Tufts employee giving through a Cummings Foundation match once again this year. Together, we can make a great impact on the work that local community organizations are doing to help those most in need.”

How to Give

Gifts to the Tufts Community Appeal can be made through December 31. To support Tufts Community Grants, financial aid for undergraduate, graduate or professional students, or any other area at Tufts, donate online, mail a check with a pledge form received in the mail or online, or use Employee Self Service to make a payroll deduction. All Tufts Giving Tuesday gifts count as a part of the TCA.

Three participants will be randomly selected and Tufts will make a $250 donation to a local nonprofit of their choice.

Questions? Email communityrelations@tufts.edu.

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