Cox Trust Closes after 35 years of Philanthropy


Family Trust Closes with Early-Stage Investments

The Jessie B. Cox Trust, a 35-year charitable lead trust focused on New England, closed at the end of 2017. The family-led Trust has made over $107million in grants, funding efforts predominantly in education, environment, health, and the development of community foundations across the region.

“Having a limited lifespan has challenged us to find ways to leave an enduring legacy,” says Mike Hill, the Trust’s chair. “The Trust has a long history of catalyzing social innovation. In our closing grants, we have tried to identify movements that are likely to grow dramatically over time and positively impact New England communities.” 

Known for its embrace of innovative approaches, the Trust narrowed its focus in its final years to back three nascent movements where early-stage investment has the potential to yield exponential results. As it closes, the Trust would like to draw attention to the promise that these three movements hold for future generations:

Universal early childhood education

Universal early childhood education, or universal PreK, will improve educational outcomes for children across the state of Vermont and the City of Boston. Recent grant recipients include The Permanent Fund for Vermont’s Children, United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, and Action for Boston Community Development.

“Together with the Cox Trust we have jump-started a movement with reverberations across New England and beyond. We are proud that all of Vermont’s young children now have access to publicly-funded prekindergarten education through the historic Act 166 law.” – Janet McLaughlin, Executive Director, Vermont Birth to Five initiative of The Permanent Fund for Vermont’s Children

Regional Conservation Partnerships

Regional Conservation partnerships (RCPs) are networks of land trusts and conservation organizations that will accelerate the permanent preservation of forestland on a large scale in New England. Recent grant recipients include the MassConn Sustainable Forest Partnership (via Opacum Land Trust) and Maine High Peaks Initiative (via Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust).

Our partnership with the Cox Trust sparked a new level of peer learning and engagement by multi-player Regional Conservation Partnerships (RCPs) in identifying and conserving high priority wildlife habitat and forestland throughout New England. The Trust-funded programs strengthened and diversified the tools RCPs use to help individuals and families permanently conserve their land. This strategic approach to collaboration is inspiring a new era of community-based conservation, and paves the way for future innovation in land protection.“- Bill Labich, Senior Conservationist, Highstead Foundation

Access to health care for underserved populations

Access to quality health care for all will be increased through targeted innovations undertaken by community health centers. Recent grant recipients include Community Health Center, Inc., Family Health Center of Worcester, and Thundermist Health Center.

credit: Community Health Center, Inc. CT

“Funding from the Cox Trust helped us develop and implement a disruptive innovation that uses technology to improve access to specialty care expertise. This approach, known as eConsults, allows primary care providers in underserved areas to send consult questions electronically to a specialist and receive a detailed response within two days. Our work has shown that eConsults can reduce health inequality by helping to ensure that all patients get access to the best care quickly and efficiently.”– Daren Anderson MD, Director of the Weitzman Institute and VP/Chief Quality Officer of Community Health Center, Inc.

Inspiration for these closing investments is rooted in the Trust’s early success in seed-funding the spread of community foundations, including those in Maine, Vermont, Western Massachusetts, and Cape Cod. Startup grants in the 1980s and 1990s totaling $2.9 million have yielded remarkable results. Today, the current combined assets of these vital community foundations approaches $1 billion, with a reported payout of $74 million in 2015.

The Jessie B. Cox Charitable Lead Trust was established in 1982 by Jessie Bancroft Cox, one of the Bancroft family members who owned Dow Jones, publisher of The Wall Street Journal and other publications and electronic information.

Since 2008, the Trust has been led by a family grants committee of Leslie, Mike, and Tom Hill, and Bill Cox III and staffed by GMA Foundations, a full-service philanthropy firm. In its last ten years, the Trust made its grants as a donor-advised fund of The Boston Foundation.

Find Generations of Impact, the Jessie B. Cox Charitable Trust’s 35-year retrospective report at or contact Phil Hall or Mike Hill for more information.