A Matching Gift Boosts the Tufts Community Appeal

Faculty and staff giving will strengthen local nonprofits and student financial aid
An illustration of a blue elephant with a large red heart is at the center of four photos of the Tufts University campuses.
The Tufts Community Appeal draws on the generosity of faculty and staff across the university.
November 22, 2021

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The Tufts Community Appeal (TCA) last year set a record for giving, with faculty and staff donating more than $1 million. University-wide participation has also grown, nearly doubling since 2017 to 21%.

This year, with the help of an enthusiastic volunteer TCA board and a generous matching gift, hopes are high for even greater growth.

“We have laid the framework for another successful campaign,” said Rocco DiRico, executive director of Government and Community Relations at Tufts. “We have an enthusiastic volunteer board, we made it easier than ever to make a donation, and we received an inspirational matching gift donation from Cummings Foundation. We’re looking forward to seeing Tufts faculty and staff show their generosity again this holiday season.”

The TCA is championed across all of Tufts’ campuses by a volunteer board of 22 faculty and staff members. Caleb Davis, administrative director at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA), has served on the TCA Board since 2016.

“Tufts has made it easy to show support,” Davis said. “And to me, it’s a wonderful personal way to make annual giving something you look forward to doing. You can be sure that your gift goes directly to benefit something you can see and feel around you. If we all do what we can, we’ll all feel better about where we are now.”

Davis hopes to build a community of Tufts faculty and staff who see the TCA as an annual tradition. It’s why he brings joy and passion to his role as a member of the TCA volunteer board. The growth of the TCA has been significant. “We’re doing quite well now and I am just delighted to be a part of that progress,” he said. “It’s important that we get everybody involved.”

Faculty and staff can participate by directing their gifts in several ways: to the Tufts Community Grants (TCG) program, Tufts Financial Aid, or any area at Tufts is important or meaningful to them. All gifts made as a part of Tufts Giving Tuesday are also counted as part of the campaign.

Tufts Community Grants Matching Challenge

For more than 25 years, the Tufts Community Grants program has supported local nonprofits as diverse as the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center, Friends of the Middlesex Fells Reservation, the Somerville Homeless Coalition, and a North Grafton farm that grows food for the hungry. The grants are awarded annually to nonprofits operating within Boston, Grafton, Medford, and Somerville and have helped more than 140 nonprofits since 1995.

This year, TCG expects to have an even wider reach. All donations made to Tufts Community Grants will be doubled, thanks to Cummings Foundation, which will match every dollar donated during the campaign, up to $50,000.

“We’ve seen an explosion in the need for essential services during the pandemic,” said DiRico. “One hundred percent of money donated to the Tufts Community Grants program goes directly to helping organizations in our communities continue to be lifelines of support, especially for families in need. And there’s also a double benefit to giving to Tufts Community Grants; these organizations have Tufts students, faculty, and staff as volunteers, so you’re also supporting the work of your colleagues. We are honored and excited to be chosen for this generous matching donation.”

Tufts trustee emeritus Bill Cummings, A58, H06, J97P, M97P, and his wife, Joyce, H17, J97P, M97P, established Cummings Foundation in 1986. Today it is one of the largest foundations in New England.

“The Cummings organization believes strongly in being a good neighbor by supporting the communities in which we operate, and we very much appreciate Tufts’ similar philosophy,” said Bill Cummings. “We hope these matching funds inspire first-time donors to the Tufts Community Appeal and encourage past donors to increase their gifts if they can.”

Sara Allred will be closely watching the progress of this year’s Community Appeal. Allred is a new member of the TCG board, the volunteer committee that reviews and selects grant recipients, and she’s hoping that faculty and staff will take advantage of the challenge gift from Cummings Foundation.

“The match will make everyone’s gift go farther!” said Allred, associate director of student programs at the Tisch College of Civic Life. “I hope that faculty and staff see the value in the connections Tufts has with our local communities and will support the incredible work partner organizations are doing to advance equity and justice for people and the environment locally.”

She feels a personal connection to the spirit of Tufts Community Grants as a 10-year resident of Medford who works closely with local communities through her job.

When asked to join the Tufts Community Grants board, she didn’t hesitate. “It felt like a natural extension of my work, because of the relationships I have formed with many community organizations over the years,” she said. “I could provide additional context to fellow board members during the grantmaking process.” 

Before she came to Tufts, Allred worked at small nonprofit organizations. “I know how important these types of funding opportunities are to their survival,” she said. “Every gift is an investment in services and opportunities that people depend on and that makes all our communities stronger.”

Supporting Tufts Students

In addition to supporting local nonprofits, the TCA offers faculty and staff an opportunity to support deserving Tufts students through gifts to financial aid.

At the undergraduate level, that support remains critical due to the pandemic, said Patty Reilly, associate dean of financial aid for the university’s undergraduate students. This year, about $3 million in undergraduate financial aid spending is related to COVID-19.

The pandemic’s impact, she said, is varied: furloughs and layoffs, reductions in hours, reduced income for self-employed families, increased medical expenses and lost wages due to illness and death, increased expenses for support of elderly grandparents, and COVID-related funeral expenses. “It has been a difficult year for many of our Tufts families,” she said, “and we are continuing to provide support to allow their children to remain enrolled and ultimately complete their Tufts degrees.”

In light of these challenges brought about by the pandemic, Caleb Davis is designating his gift to student aid.

“Our students are just amazing, and there is a lot of need. They have been through a lot,” he said. “Anything we can do will make it a little easier for them to focus on the important things that they are supposed to be doing, which in our case, is making art—which they are doing fabulously. To be able to support them makes me feel good and my colleagues too.”

How to Give

Whether supporting Tufts Community Grants, financial aid, or any other area at Tufts that is meaningful, giving is simple. Faculty and staff may donate online, mail a check with a pledge form received in the mail or printed out, or use Employee Self Service.

Employees may also email communityrelations@tufts.edu with specific giving questions.

Gifts can be made to the TCA through December 31. Details about how to make a gift can be found here. Three employees who participate in the TCA this year will be randomly selected and Tufts will make a $250 donation to a local nonprofit of their choice. Names will be picked throughout the appeal.