Watertown’s Parents Helping Parents Receives $500K Grant

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Parents Helping Parents Celebrates Receiving a grant from the Cummings Foundation.

The following announcement was provided by Parents Helping Parents:

Parents Helping Parents (PHP) is one of 150 local nonprofits that will share in $30 million through Cummings Foundation’s major annual grants program. The Watertown-based organization was selected from a total of 630 applicants during a competitive review process. It will receive $500,000 over 10 years.

PHP helps fill the gap in mental health services for parents and caregivers. It is the only program in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that provides a free, accessible, and evidence-based model that significantly improves parent and child mental health. Cummings Foundation funding will increase the number of parent support groups PHP offers at Family Resource Centers in the Essex, Middlesex, and Suffolk county areas and at the Middlesex House of Corrections in Billerica. 

“Cummings Foundation’s support of our organization in deepening our services in the Greater Boston area will minimally triple the number of parents who have immediate access to a free program proven to improve the mental health of their entire family,” said PHP executive director Sarah Brinley. “Our theory of change is that parents who participate in our mutual aid support groups will show improved parental mental health, which will, in turn, improve their children’s mental health.”

Mutual aid support groups differ from Parenting Classes and Behavioral Health groups because an expert does not lead them. Instead, these groups bring forward the group’s expertise, and their purpose is to help members cope with things they cannot change rather than help members change (like in therapy groups) or teach them skills (like in parenting classes). The model is highly effective and cost-efficient as it relies on trained volunteers and community partners to facilitate the support groups.

“To best serve our participants, we provide trauma-informed services by integrating knowledge about trauma into our policies and procedures,” said PHP director of support groups Heather Rebmann Hernandez. “During our group facilitator training, we raise awareness of the areas where a parent may have experienced trauma. Facilitators become aware of the impact of trauma and paths for recovery. They can better recognize the signs and symptoms of trauma in the group setting.”

The Cummings $30 Million Grant Program primarily supports Massachusetts nonprofits that are based in and 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.

“The way the local nonprofit sector perseveres, steps up, and pivots to meet the shifting needs of the community is most impressive,” said Cummings Foundation executive director Joyce Vyriotes. “We are incredibly grateful for these tireless efforts to support people in the community and to increase equity and access to opportunities.”

The majority of the grant decisions were made by about 90 volunteers. They worked across a variety of committees to review and discuss the proposals and then, together, determine which requests would be funded. Among these community volunteers were business and nonprofit leaders, mayors, college presidents, and experts in areas such as finance and DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion).

“It would not be possible for the Foundation to hire the diversity and depth of expertise and insights that our volunteers bring to the process,” said Vyriotes. “We so appreciate the substantial time and thought they dedicated toward ensuring that our democratized version of philanthropy results in equitable outcomes that will really move the needle on important issues in local communities.”

The Foundation and volunteers first identified 150 organizations to receive three-year grants of up to $225,000 each. The winners included first-time recipients as well as nonprofits that had previously received Cummings grants. Twenty-five of this latter group of repeat recipients were then selected by a volunteer panel to have their grants elevated to 10-year awards ranging from $300,000 to $1 million each.

This year’s grant recipients represent a wide variety of causes, including housing and food insecurity, workforce development, immigrant services, social justice, education, and mental health services. The nonprofits are spread across 46 different cities and towns.

Cummings Foundation has now awarded $480 million to greater Boston nonprofits. The complete list of this year’s 150 grant winners, plus nearly 1,500 previous recipients, is available at www.CummingsFoundation.org.

About Parents Helping Parents

For over 40 years Parents Helping Parents has offered free, confidential, and immediate support services for parents who are overwhelmed, isolated, and frustrated by the demands of caring for children. The organization builds stronger families by providing evidence-based, trauma-informed programs that significantly improve parent and child mental health. To learn more, visit parentshelpingparents.org

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 www.CummingsFoundation.org.

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