Share this article Tweet about this on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Email this to someone

One of the greatest challenges of philanthropy is how to address the most critical needs, especially in tough economic times. In 1984, donor Kathleen Busse provided the first $50,000 to seed the Basic Human Needs Fund – established at the Trust to address the growing problem of homelessness and hunger in Chicago.

Nearly a decade later, philanthropist Rosaline Cohn decided that partnering with the Trust to support the Basic Human Needs Fund was an ideal way to help Cook County’s most disadvantaged residents. In 1992, Cohn established the Jacob and Rosaline Cohn Fund for Basic Human Needs as a donor advised fund at the Trust. Her daughter, Marcia S. Cohn, helped her mother direct the fund’s grant making with a focus on projects that served the elderly and individuals experiencing homelessness.

The Jacob and Rosaline Cohn Fund continues to contribute to the Basic Human Needs Fund—which to date has provided more than $21 million to nonprofits providing critical emergency housing, food, clothing, and health care needs to Cook County residents. Marcia subsequently left a significant portion of her estate, $27 million, to the Trust as a permanent endowment after her death in 2015, ensuring the family’s commitment to serving those most in need in the region will live on in perpetuity.

Rosaline Cohn (left) and Marcia Cohn © 1998 Brandeis University