The Nathan Cummings Foundation’s DNA

The Nathan Cummings Foundation


What Makes NCF, NCF

Honoring the history and legacy of the Nathan Cummings family, and the culture and practice of the Foundation that was built over its first 25 years, we affirm the following:  

Mission:  The Nathan Cummings Foundation is rooted in the Jewish tradition and committed to democratic values and social justice, including fairness, diversity, and community.  We seek to build a socially and economically just society that values nature and protects the ecological balance for future generations; promotes humane health care; and fosters arts and culture that enriches communities.

What we believe

  • All life is interdependent, and our destiny is shared.
  • We have obligations to one another and to future generations.
  • With great privilege comes great responsibility.
What guides us 
Based on our mission and what we believe, the Foundation is guided by these first principles:
  • We must work to close the gap between America’s promise and practice; and
  • We aspire to a society that measures its success by how it treats those who have the least.
How we work  
We fulfill our mission and live out our beliefs and first principles by upholding these commitments: 
  • Focusing on what the world needs from NCF, not on what NCF can do for me; 
  • Focusing on wicked problems and making the “impossible” possible;
  • Supporting those who have the least to participate meaningfully in solving the problems that affect them;
  • Using innovation, risk-taking and unorthodox thinking to disrupt conventional definitions and political divides and to generate new possibilities and alliances;
  • Being uncompromising about long-term goals, but remaining flexible with regard to means;
  • Affirming the importance of leadership that is curious, knows when it is stuck, and that is both bold and humble; 
  • Being willing to fail and to learn from our failures;
  • Recognizing the arts, culture and contemplative practice as creative drivers of change;
  • Encouraging resilience through solutions that enable individuals, organizations and communities to participate meaningfully in increasing opportunity, preparing for contingencies, and recovering from setbacks and losses; and
  •  Listening actively, partnering respectfully and affirming a dedication to excellence in all of our practices.