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$1 Million Gift Strengthens Human Rights Education, Awareness

The brutal Rwandan genocide shocked the world in 1994. An estimated 1 million people were killed and millions more displaced because of the horrific crimes against specific ethnic groups and social classes there.

To examine the root causes of this atrocity, Salem State’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies brings 40 students annually on a service trip to Rwanda. There, students strengthen their intercultural empathy and deepen awareness of international human rights abuses.

“In the midst of poverty, struggles and traumatic history, Rwandans were able to find a degree of hope, love and unity,” says Esthefany Fuentes ‘18G, who traveled there last year. “A piece of me will forever remain with the oh-so-beautiful and resilient Rwanda.”

Making these kinds of educational opportunities possible is a $1 million grant by the Cummings Foundation in 2014 to support the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies—both immediately and for generations to come.

Bill and Joyce Cummings generously support organizations that empower individuals and the greater community to combat inequity, ethnic hatred, and mass violence. Bill Cummings has publicly stated, “Never forget when prejudice and intolerance are tolerated, they are as well condoned and encouraged. We urge all of you…to be the force that helps to build bridges, especially for our marginalized neighbors.”

Dan Eshet, PhD, the center’s program director, deeply appreciates the positive impact of such meaningful philanthropy. “Endowed support from visionary donors like the Cummings Foundation gives students concrete, immediate and unique perspectives in the real world that they simply wouldn’t access otherwise,” he says. “Their generosity ensures the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies—including our students, faculty, and staff members—will continue to impact society very far into the future.”

The Cummings Foundation’s support represents one of 221 endowments created by generous individuals and foundations across the university over time. Of these perpetual funds, 158 support scholarships and 63 fuel departmental needs as diverse as the Sophia Gordon Center for Creative and Performing Arts, Wellness U, and Bertolon School of Business.

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