Philanthropy Blog: Celebrating a Family Legacy

March 23, 2023

Jane B. Cook and her giving has transcended generations.

Before Mrs. Cook died in 2002, she envisioned a charitable trust – Jane’s Trust – that would be shaped by her three daughters and support causes she cared about – the environment, arts, health and welfare, and education – in locations important to her and her family – Massachusetts, Florida, Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire. Over the course of 18 years, Jane’s Trust awarded 1,215 grants totaling nearly $180 million. A recently released report details the evolution of Jane’s Trust and the impact of its legacy. The report also highlights the incredible work of its grantee partners to support communities in Boston, MA, Sarasota, FL, and Northern New England.

During her lifetime, Mrs. Cook supported many nonprofit organizations that provide support to under-resourced youth and young people. Her daughters and grandchildren are imbued with that same passion today – and across the family’s charitable giving, there is a focus on supporting youth and young people. One Boston-based organization that Mrs. Cook supported personally, and during the organization’s nascent stage in the early 1990s, was Artists for Humanity (AFH), an organization that provides under-resourced teens with the keys to self-sufficiency through paid employment in art and design. Jane’s Trust went on to make five grants to AFH, providing capital, capacity building, and general operating support. And to come full circle, AFH teens designed the Jane’s Trust legacy report referenced above. For over 30 years, AFH has been, and will continue to be, a place where teens can explore and express their creative abilities, all areas of interest to Mrs. Cook and her family.

In an effort to carry on her legacy, Mrs. Cook’s family has gone on to seed the creation of new family philanthropy vehicles (including Jane’s Trust Foundation) to continue to support issues they care about and to ensure that future generations are engaged in community- and equity-focused philanthropy. It takes time to articulate and pursue charitable goals in order to create a family legacy. And while it takes planning and continued attention to engage in multi-generational philanthropy, the impacts can be felt for generations.

Jane’s Trust: A Lasting Legacy

Jane’s Trust, was created through the beneficence of Jane Bancroft Cook, who died in 2002. Mrs. Cook was known in the communities where she lived as a down-to-earth woman who was generous to the core. The Trust continued in that spirit of generosity from its founding in 2003 until its last grants in 2021. Over nearly two decades, Jane’s Trust awarded 1,215 grants totaling nearly $180 million to nonprofit organizations in greater Boston, northern New England, and Florida focused in the areas of arts and culture, education, the environment, and health and welfare. The culminating report provides an overview of the evolution of Jane’s Trust and highlights a handful of the many incredible nonprofit partners that are working to strengthen diverse communities.

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