monetary gift

Cooperman Family Donates Largest Gift in History of Jespy House

JESPY House, a South Orange-based non-profit organization that supports adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, has announced the largest gift in its history: a $13.25 million matching gift from The Leon and Toby Cooperman Family Foundation. The gift will be commemorated through the establishment of The Cooperman Family Campus at JESPY.

The Leon and Toby Cooperman Family Foundation, established in 1981, supports the arts, education, health organizations and medical research, human services, and Jewish organizations. As an example, it has made numerous gifts to Barnabas Health – now RWJBarnabas Health – throughout the years.

The Cooperman gift will position JESPY to implement its vision for sustainability and future growth. This includes a significant increase of existing residential facilities, development of affordably-priced housing; expansion of client services through increased programming, state-of-the-art technology, and administration space; and improved client diversity in its programs.

“We were deeply moved and inspired by the work being done by JESPY House,” said Leon Cooperman. “This is an organization that is emphatically making life better for hundreds of clients each year. That alone warrants our support. But beyond that, JESPY House has a thoughtful, achievable vision and a strong entrepreneurial sense. This is exactly the type of organization we like to support. It has an impressive history of being an effective partner with its clients, local businesses, other social service organizations and the community at large. Now it is working strategically to build on its achievements and secure the future. It works smart, with heart. And the dignity, affirmation, and independence it teaches its clients is priceless. We are honored to be able to provide this historic gift and hope it will inspire other philanthropists to help JESPY expand its meaningful work.”

“This is a turning point in our history,” said Dr. Ahadi Bugg-Levine, president of the JESPY House Board of Trustees, “and will undoubtedly galvanize other funders to support JESPY’s work in providing independence-based services for adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.”

“Working with the Coopermans was like a master class in smart, focused philanthropy,” Bugg-Levine added. “As a former member of JESPY’s board, Toby already had a passion for our mission. When we approached them with our proposal, they understood our aspirations and quickly became thought partners. We made our case, responded to challenging and thoughtful questions, and worked with the Coopermans to structure the gift in a way that positions JESPY to turn their generosity into sustained impact for our clients. Their compassionate and strategic approach to giving has inspired me personally and affirms the powerful work being done at JESPY.”

“This is nothing short of earth-shattering for JESPY,” said Audrey Winkler, executive director of JESPY House. “Leon and Toby Cooperman have given us the opportunity to take a monumental step forward as we continue to provide thoughtful, compassionate, and strong programs and services for our clients. The need is real, urgent, and cannot be overstated. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t get stopped by one or more of our clients who want to know if today is the day they can get off our long waiting lists to finally develop the skills they need to live on their own or to move into our aging-in-place house. It has been devastating to not have an answer for them. This gift moves us so much closer to turning our clients’ dreams into realities. We are deeply grateful.”

A formal announcement of the organization’s capital campaign, GO BIG FOR JESPY, is anticipated in the fall. Among the campaign’s components will be new residential units; community spaces for client socialization, increased education and training facilities, a new library and technology center providing enhanced skills and training programs for work readiness and employment engagement; and expanded health and recreational facilities for wellness, clinical, and behavioral support programs.

JESPY House provides support to some 300 clients, age 18 and up, who are on their journey to independence and leading fulfilling lives. JESPY’s philosophy is to promote self-direction, choice, and independent community living. Clients come from across the country and from 11 counties in New Jersey to build lives in a community they can call their own.

JESPY’s services and programs include Day Habilitation and Engagement & Enrichment programs, Young Adult Transitions services, Clinical & Behavioral Support Services, Athletics & Fitness, Case Management, Community-Based Supports, Residential options, Aging in Place, and Work Readiness & Employment Engagement services.

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