Sometimes, funders are like this: They have a couple of interest areas, they give reliably and regularly, and there’s absolutely no mystery about why a particular outfit received a particular gift. Such funders largely stick to beaten-path initiatives; they like big players, not random little projects, and they usually have deep pockets.
The Steven A. and Alexandra M. Cohen Foundation is like this. The Cohens give to arts, and to education, but by and large their biggest area of interest is healthcare. Specifically hospitals. Specifically children’s hospitals. That’s why it didn’t surprise us to read they’d recently given $15 million to the Stamford Hospital Foundation, for the establishment of the Cohen Children’s Institute.
Basically, the gift will snowball all the hospital’s children’s services into one centralized location. That includes the Cohen Children’s Specialty Center, which was created with a $5 million Cohen gift way back in 2006.
Overall, the Cohens’ most notable donations have been large sums to hospitals in the NYC/Connecticut area, and the primary focus is generally on pediatric care. In 2010, the Cohens pledged $50 million to North Shore University Hospital to build the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center. The medical center includes a pediatric emergency center, an intensive care unit and a surgery center. It seems almost as if they’re modeling this latest gift off of that 2010 one.
But the foundation has also given to NYU Langone Medical Center, where it established a new veterans’ mental health research center to study post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury. And St. Jude's Children' s Research Hospital, New York Presbyterian has also received support. In 2011, a $50 million gift established the Alexandra and Steven Cohen Pediatric Emergency Department at New York-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center. The center is located in the very same Washington Heights neighborhood where Alexandra was born and raised.
Indeed, everywhere you look in the Cohens’ giving history, there’s some big, noteworthy gift to a hospital. The Cohens do have healthcare interests apart from pediatric care—cancer, AIDS, mental health, neurodegenerative diseases—and with over $10 billion still in assets for Steve Cohen, and nearly $300 million in the foundation’s coffers (as of the end of 2012), we wonder if we’ll begin seeing ambitious gifts made to hospitals and health centers addressing any of these other maladies. We’d say it’s a definite possibility.
And so it goes with super-rich donors: Many are predictable, until they do something new and different. Keep watching this couple.