The mission of Cooperman College Scholars is to help highly motivated, academically talented, under-represented students thrive in college. We place students in challenging, well-matched environments with solid support systems, and we eliminate the pressures of insufficient financial aid which can negatively affect student retention and graduation.
The Cooperman College Scholars program is made possible by a grant from the Leon and Toby Cooperman Family Foundation.
Mr. and Mrs. Cooperman both grew up in the South Bronx. The son of Jewish immigrants who fled Poland, Mr. Cooperman was raised with his brother in a tiny, one-bedroom apartment. His father worked as a plumber and died on the job; Mrs. Cooperman’s father sold bed linens.
Mr. Cooperman was the first in his family to go to college, attending Hunter (then called Lehman) College, a City University of New York (CUNY) public institution, where he met his future wife; he studied Chemistry, she History. Mr. Cooperman earned his degree in just three years and entered dental school. Deciding after eight days that it was not the career for him, Mr. Cooperman re-enrolled at CUNY and took 10 economics courses, earning As in every class.
Mr. Cooperman went on to Columbia Business School and from there to Goldman Sachs. Starting out, the young couple faced overwhelming student loan debt (and a negative net worth) while raising a six-month-old son, but Mr. Cooperman, always known for his prodigious work ethic, persevered and founded the asset-management business at Goldman, leaving after 25 years to launch his own hedge fund, Omega Advisors, Inc.
The Coopermans have lived in Essex County for 36 years, raising their two sons there. Mrs. Cooperman is retired from a career in special education at the Early Childhood Learning Center of New Jersey.
They are overjoyed to donate this gift.
Selected Scholars participate in a three-week, pre-college program after 11th grade. Students will gain real-life perspective on life as a college student by taking courses with college faculty and living on campus.
During senior year, Scholars will have access to support for college admissions and the financial-aid process. Financial literacy education regarding college costs, loans, and scholarships will also be available to students and their families.
In addition to the pre-college resources, Scholar support continues throughout college. Through partnerships with top public and private colleges and universities, primarily in New Jersey, Cooperman Scholars will participate in a cohort-based mentoring model facilitated by college faculty and student peers.