Irene Cooper-Basch
Irene Cooper-Basch

Urban Education


Work Position
Executive Officer


In June 2006, Irene Cooper-Basch became the third Executive Officer and Secretary of the Board for Victoria Foundation, a private grantmaking institution founded in 1924, with current assets totaling $200 million. Prior to this appointment, she served as a Program Officer at the Victoria Foundation and the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey for 10 years. Both foundations have a strong grant-making focus on the city of Newark.

Irene has spent the past 25 years working in the nonprofit sector, beginning with a Peace Corps stint in Botswana, where she taught English, math, and drama to middle school children. Irene currently serves as a trustee of the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers, the Newark Education Trust, and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. She is also the founder and co-chair of the Newark Funders Group.

Irene holds a bachelor’s degree from New York University, a master’s degree from Drew University.

Title of the Dissertation

The Intersection of Victoria Foundation and the City of Newark, New Jersey from 1965 to 2005

Dissertation Proposal Abstract

With an endowment of $200 million, Victoria Foundation is considered to be a mid-sized private foundation. It was founded in 1924 by Hendon Chubb, principal of the Chubb Insurance Company, who named the philanthropy after his mother, Victoria Eddis Chubb. In 2010, the 14 member board of trustees is comprised of two grandchildren and a spouse, three great grandchildren, and eight non-family members. The Foundation has always been based in northern New Jersey and has limited its giving to New Jersey. However, starting in the mid-1960s, and following on the heels of the civil disturbances in Newark, New Jersey, Victoria Foundation focused its grantmaking almost exclusively on nonprofit agencies serving the children and families that live in Newark.  Choosing the path of ‘place-based’ giving is the subject of this dissertation. The goal is to determine the challenges and opportunities that have taken place over four decades of focused attention to one urban area, and to measure the impact, if possible, that Victoria Foundation has had on improving the quality of life for the inhabitants of Newark from 1965 through 2005.

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