Cooperman Family donates $13.25M to South Orange nonprofit to support adults with disabilities

JESPY House, a South Orange-based nonprofit organization that has supported adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities for 45 years, on Monday announced it received its largest gift in its history: a $13.25 million matching gift from The Leon and Toby Cooperman Family Foundation.

The gift, extraordinary for an organization that serves individuals with intellectual and development disabilities, will be commemorated through the establishment of The Cooperman Family Campus at JESPY.

The gift will position JESPY to implement its vision for sustainability and future growth which 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,” Leon Cooperman said. “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. They have an impressive history of being an effective partner with their clients, local businesses, other social service organizations and the community at large. Now they are working strategically to build on their achievements and secure the future. They work smart, with heart. And the dignity, affirmation, and independence they teach their 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 and will undoubtedly galvanize other funders to support JESPY’s work in providing independence-based services for adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities,” Ahadi Bugg-Levine, president of the JESPY House Board of Trustees said.

“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,” Audrey Winkler, executive director of JESPY House said. “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.”