The Frances L. & Edwin L. Cummings Memorial Fund (“The Cummings Fund”) is a charitable foundation established in 1982 under the laws of the State of New York. Created under the Will of Edwin L. Cummings, this Fund is “to be held in perpetuity for . . . charitable purposes” to better “the health and well-being of mankind and not for the cultural arts.” The Cummings Fund’s assets were originally derived from the Estates of Frances L. Cummings (1907-1978) and her husband, Edwin L. Cummings (1906-1982).
Fran and Ed Cummings were a couple with simple tastes and generally frugal tendencies. They did not “strike it rich” through speculative ventures nor did they amass a fortune through personal business successes. It was not until 1958 that the Cummings received a sizable block of IBM stock from a wealthy, childless aunt. Despite their new-found wealth, the Cummings refrained from significantly enhancing their “middle class” ways. Indeed, like many Americans who had endured the hard times of the Great Depression from 1929-1941, they retained a fiscally conservative lifestyle. By their later years, the Cummings, who had no children, saw their IBM stock appreciate considerably in value, and decided that the bulk of their estates should be distributed for charitable purposes.
Mr. Cummings arranged for The Cummings Fund to be administered by Irving Trust Company (now BNY Mellon, N.A.) and by his friend and attorney, Charles T. Lark, Jr., as Co-Trustees. Upon Charles Lark’s death in 1983, J. Andrew Lark, Esq. was appointed as successor Co-Trustee by the Surrogate of Westchester County, New York as per the instructions given in Ed Cummings’ Will. Andrew Lark and BNY Mellon, N.A. continue to this date as Co-Trustees. A Board of Advisors, which serves without compensation, has been selected by the Co-Trustees to help advise them. The two Co-Trustees, however, ultimately make all final grantmaking decisions.
The Co-Trustees manage the Fund in the same fiscally conservative spirit exemplified by the Cummings’ frugal lifestyles. The Fund keeps its administrative costs to a minimum, while nevertheless ensuring that its grants are awarded to meritorious, soundly managed charitable organizations that will utilize the grant monies both properly and efficiently. To ensure this, the Co-Trustees endeavor to site visit as many organizations as possible, and require the submission of progress reports from all grant recipients.
As of July 31, 2019 the Fund’s total assets were valued at $39,968,902. The generosity of Fran and Ed Cummings, along with the careful management of the Fund’s assets, has resulted in the cumulative distribution of $59,417,715 as of July 31, 2019.