Billionaire Steven Cohen took a hit when his hedge fund, SAC Capital, pleaded guilty to insider trading and was downsized to manage only Cohen's family fortune. But that fortune is huge, $10.3 billion, and much of it may eventually go to philanthropy.
The Steven A. and Alexandra M. Cohen Foundation has been operating since 2001, and gave out around $43 million in 2012. The Cohens have said that they will continue to increase their charitable givng in future years.
That's good news for grantseekers, especially in the area of education where the couple is quite active.
The Cohens have been strong supporters of Achievement First, where they helped fund the first Achievement First charter school in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The foundation gave more than $5 million to Achievement First between 2011 and 2012 alone. Other outfits receiving money in recent years include Excel Bridgeport, ConnCAN ($290,000 in 2011) and Connecticut Charter School Network ($100,000 in 2011). In New York, Harlem Children's Zone and Harlem RBI have gotten money.
Alexandra, Cohen's wife, seems to be central to the foundation's grantmaking in education. Alexandra was born in the working-class neighborhood of Washington Heights, where her Puerto Rican Catholic parents instilled in her the value of education. She went to Mother Cabrini High School in Washington Heights, an all-girls parochial school, graduating in 1982. Unsurprisingly, Mother Cabrini has received steady sums of money over the years. (As of 2014, however, the school has been closed due to prolonged financial problems.) The Cohens have also supported St Joseph Catholic School and St. Elizabeth School, other Catholic schools in New York.
In addition, the Cohens have been strongly supportive of scholarship outfits such as Prep For Prep, College Summit, Justin T Dimino Scholarship Foundation and the Bradley Marc Ginsburg Scholarship Foundation Corp, to name a few.
In the higher education realm, some of couple's largest gifts have gone to Brown University, which has gotten at least $36 million over the years.
While the foundation clearly has a regional preference focused in New York and Connecticut, some ed gifts have been made outside this area. In 2012, the Cohens made a $1 million gift to StudentsFirst, a California-based education reform group founded by Michelle Rhee.
In the wake of the federal investigation of SAC, Steve Cohen won't be the major player on the hedge fund scene that he used to be. The question now is how big of a player he'll be in the philanthropy world. All signs point to greater giving, and few issues matter more to the Cohens than education.