Freshman Fresh Start has been awarded a grant from the Cummings Foundation! Check out News and Updates for the full story.

Latest News and Updates from The Freshman Fresh Start

2022: Our Annual Spring Fundraiser!

March 21, 2022

Dear Friends,

Imagine what it would be like for your child – perhaps the first in your family – to be

accepted to college with a full financial aid package, only to discover that you cannot

afford the substantial cost of essential dorm room and school supplies which are not

included in the financial aid award? This issue is rarely acknowledged even though the

additional financial burden on many families may be the difference between their child

being able to attend college or not. And this is precisely the problem that Freshman

Fresh Start (“FFS”) has been addressing, benefitting over 750 students since 2011.

An FFS package provides incoming college students with a “fresh start”. Like their peers,

our students arrive on campus to find their packages of brand-new dorm room and

school necessities, lessening the social and emotional burden of starting their college

experience at a tremendous disadvantage.

We are thrilled to report the following exciting FFS developments during 2021:

• FFS was able to send 142 financially disadvantaged, high-performing students to

colleges and universities across the nation with their dorm room essentials and school

supplies. This includes several students who experienced homelessness during high

school and 11 students from 2020 who were finally permitted to move on campus.

• FFS received a highly-selective six-year grant from the Cummings Foundation! As a

result of this infusion of funds – and the continued generosity of our donors – FFS was

able to increase the number of students we served in 2021 by almost 24%!

• We are delighted to share that our successful and transformational model is being

replicated to help students. With our mentorship, two women from Houston, TX

launched “Freshman Beginnings” in November 2021.

Please consider participating in our annual spring fundraiser so we can sponsor as many

students as possible next fall. The need continues to grow, however, the number of

students we can support is based entirely upon the amount of funds we raise each year.

We anticipate the cost of an FFS package to be $700, which will provide one student with all

of the items listed below.

Please visit our website at to learn more about our

work and to contribute online. Or, you can send a check to:

Freshman Fresh Start,

P.O. Box 81126, Wellesley Hills, MA 02481-0001.

With deepest gratitude from us and the students of the Class of 2026,

Susan Tofias


Ruth Weinstein


Nancy Casper


Rebecca Kannam



While many needy students receive financial aid, the cost of dorm supplies is not included. These are by no means luxuries; they are necessities of campus life.

What’s included in a Freshman Fresh Start package:

• Sheets

• Pillows

• Mattress Pad

• Blanket

• Comforter

• Towels

• Robe

• Shower Caddy

• Hangers

• Surge Protector

• Phone Docking Station

• Storage Containers

• Laundry Bag

• Backpack

• School Supplies

Recipients can choose the color of their comforter, sheet sets and towels from a number of options. Being awarded a Freshman Fresh Start package is considered a great honor. At graduation ceremonies, several high schools announce recipients of a Freshman Fresh Start package along with Merit Scholarship winners and other awards.

Freshman Fresh Start awarded $100,000 Cummings grant

May 24, 2021


Contact: Ruth Weinstein, Freshman Fresh Start, 617-320-1200,

Contact: Alison Harding, Cummings Foundation, 781-932-7093,

Freshman Fresh Start awarded $100,000 Cummings grant

Wellesley, MA nonprofit receives 6 years of funding from Cummings Foundation

Wellesley, May 25, 2021 – Freshman Fresh Start is one of 140 local nonprofits to receive grants of $100,000 to $500,000 each through Cummings Foundation’s $25 Million Grant Program. The Wellesley-based organization was chosen from a total of 590 applicants during a competitive review process. It will receive $16,666 over 6 years.

Freshman Fresh Start provides low-income, high-achieving, college-bound high school seniors with the dorm room essentials and school supplies needed to live on campus.  These are among the biggest hidden costs of living at college.  These supplies allow students to begin school with dignity and a little less stress.  Receiving the Cummings Foundation grant will allow Freshman Fresh Start to provide goods to an additional 28 students per year.

The Cummings $25 Million Grant Program supports Massachusetts nonprofits that are based in and primarily serve Middlesex, Essex, and Suffolk counties. 

Through this place-based initiative, Cummings Foundation aims to give back in the area where it owns commercial buildings, all of which are managed, at no cost to the Foundation, by its affiliate, Cummings Properties. This Woburn-based commercial real estate firm leases and manages 10 million square feet of debt-free space, the majority of which exclusively benefits the Foundation.

“We aim to help meet the needs of people in all segments of our local community,” said Cummings Foundation executive director Joel Swets. “It is the incredible organizations we fund, however, that do the actual daily work to empower our neighbors, educate our children, fight for equity, and so much more.”

With the help of about 80 volunteers, the Foundation first identified 140 organizations to receive grants of at least $100,000 each. Among the winners were first-time recipients as well as nonprofits that had previously received Cummings Foundation grants. Forty of this latter group of repeat recipients were then selected to have their grants elevated to 10-year awards ranging from $200,000 to $500,000 each.

“We have adopted a democratic approach to philanthropy, which empowers an impressive roster of dedicated volunteers to decide more than half of all our grant winners each year,” said Swets. “We benefit from their diverse backgrounds and perspectives; they benefit from a meaningful and fulfilling experience; and the nonprofits often benefit from increased exposure and new advocates.”

This year’s grant recipients represent a wide variety of causes, including social justice, homelessness prevention, affordable housing, education, violence prevention, and food insecurity. The nonprofits are spread across 43 different cities and towns.

The complete list of 140 grant winners, plus more than 800 previous recipients, is available at

Cummings Foundation has now awarded more than $300 million to greater Boston nonprofits.

About Freshman Fresh Start 

Wellesley-based Freshman Fresh Start provides essential dorm and school supplies to low-income, high-achieving, college-bound college freshmen, helping to lessen family financial burdens and ease the transition to campus life.  Over the past 10 years, Freshman Fresh Start has supported over 600 students.  For more information, please visit

About Cummings Foundation

Woburn-based Cummings Foundation, Inc. was established in 1986 by Joyce and Bill Cummings and has grown to be one of the three largest private foundations in New England. The Foundation directly operates its own charitable subsidiaries, including New Horizons retirement communities in Marlborough and Woburn, and Veterinary School at Tufts, LLC in North Grafton. Additional information is available at

2021 is Freshman Fresh Start’s 10-year anniversary!

March 25, 2021

2021 is Freshman Fresh Start’s 10-year anniversary!

Our work for the Class of 2024

July 22, 2020

Despite the challenges this year is presenting, Freshman Fresh Start has spots for 90 students who are planning on attending college and living on campus.  Perhaps now more than ever, our package of dorm and school supplies will help alleviate some stress for these deserving students.

Backpacks arrive with help from Axis Promotions, Burlington, MA and Hope and Comfort, a non-profit based in Needham, MA provides soaps, toothbrushes and toothpaste for our students.

Backpacks from Axis Promotions

Oral care from Hope & Comfort

Packing up 101 boxes of school supplies for our fall 2019 college bound students

July 23, 2019

Packing up 101 boxes of school supplies for our fall 2019 college bound students.



Our Spring 2019 Fundraising Letter

April 23, 2019

Ready for the start of the Fall semester

August 27, 2018

Students have begun arriving at school and setting up their dorm rooms with supplies

from the Freshman Fifteen Boston. 

We hope all of our 97 recipients have a successful start to the school year.

We’re sending 97 students off to college this year!

August 6, 2018

Thanks to the support of our generous donors, we are sending 97 students off to college this year!

New additions to our packages of dorm essentials and school supplies are

personal hygiene items donated from Hope and Comfort in Newton, MA

and WallPops! donated from Brewster Fabrics in Randolph, MA.


Here we are on packing day:  Judy Mirel, Nancy Casper, Jackie Weinstein and Susan Tofias.  Photos by Ruth Weinstein




The Freshman Fifteen Boston and The Boston Globe GRANT program

March 25, 2018

Last year, The Freshman Fifteen Boston (FFB) asked our supporters to participate in The Boston Globe’s GRANT program by entering FFB as their charity of choice. We had a terrific response and came in 219 out of the 3,646 charities that participated. This entitles FFB to a free ad that is scheduled to run in the main news section of The Boston Globe on Monday, March 26th.


Off to a good start!

September 14, 2017

The Freshman Fifteen Boston just finished shipping dorm room and school supplies to 86 students going to 35 different colleges.

Take a look at two dorm room photos we received.