Nonprofit organizations play a critical role - healing the sick, feeding the hungry, supporting vulnerable people, educating young people and adults, presenting arts and cultural opportunities, and protecting and enhancing our natural environment. Nonprofits use advocacy as well as direct services to help improve our systems, strengthen our democracy, and encourage public policies that work for the common good.

The term "advocacy" includes education, research, public awareness campaigns, engagement of supporters, and sharing expertise with elected officials and policy makers about important issues. Private foundations, like the Cooper Foundation, can support advocacy related policies, programs, and services, but cannot lobby nor fund lobbying by nonprofits. Cooper Foundation has a long history of funding programming, operations, and advocacy efforts of nonprofit organizations working across all our program areas in Nebraska.

ACLU of Nebraska

"Equality before the law."

ACLU Nebraska map of victories.

The ACLU is our nation's guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the United States Constitution and laws of Nebraska guarantee everyone in the Cornhusker state. These rights include First Amendment rights, the right to equal protection under the law, the right to due process - fair treatment by the government, and the right to privacy.

The ACLU also works to extend rights to segments of our population that have traditionally been denied their rights, including people of color; women; lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people; prisoners; and people with disabilities.

The ACLU of Nebraska carries out their mission through a sophisticated program of strategies that include litigation, negotiation, advocacy, and public education.

Legal Aid of Nebraska

"We make equal justice happen."

Each morning, in homes across Nebraska, proud yet low-income families rise and spend another day struggling to make ends meet, to keep their children safe, to protect what little they have in the world — simply to keep it all together in the face of life’s curveballs and crises. Legal representation with these challenges is often the only thing standing between a family’s efforts to see better days, or suffering a fall into deep poverty and a loss of hope.

For more than 50 years, Legal Aid of Nebraska has provided dignity, hope, self-sufficiency and justice through quality civil legal aid. Legal Aid is a problem solver, standing side by side with low income, diverse Nebraskans – enforcing laws, protecting rights, all the while addressing urgent needs and shining a light on what more can be done. Their charge is to help clients regain their independence by providing legal representation, counseling and advocacy.

Nebraska Appleseed

"Because when you believe in justice – when you believe in your heart in the American Dream – you can’t walk away from the fight."

Since 1996, Nebraska Appleseed has fought for justice and opportunity for all Nebraskans. Appleseed takes a systemic approach to complex issues – such as poverty, child welfare, immigration policy, and affordable health care – wherever they believe they can do the most good, whether in the courthouse, the statehouse, or in the community.

Pamela's Story

Pamela contacted Appleseed after the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) incorrectly closed her public assistance case.  Appleseed provided legal information about the benefit program requirements and helped connect her to resources that could address her specific concerns more directly.  Pamela advocated for herself to state representatives and DHHS quickly restored Pamela’s benefits without requiring her to complete a lengthy administrative hearing process. As a result, Pamela was able to pay her rent and avoid an eviction.

Nebraska Bicycling Alliance

R.O.L.L. stands for Review Our Local Locals and was an initiative to help implement LB 716 in local communities.

"A Nebraska where bicycling is a safe and enjoyable part of the Good Life."

The Nebraska Bicycling Alliance is a membership organization and the only Nebraska organization dedicated to bicycle advocacy on a statewide level. The Alliance works to cultivate a safer, more bicycle friendly Nebraska through partnerships, education and advocacy.

The Alliance has partnered with Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services to provide technical assistance to 9 cities working to improve health through walkability and bikeability.

Through their education efforts they work with communities to update local bicycling laws to make their communities more bike-friendly.

Advocacy efforts played a critical role in getting LB 716 passed in 2016 by the Nebraska legislature by educating state senators and mobilizing advocates. The law now allows people on bicycles the same rights in crosswalks as people walking.

Nebraskans for Civic Reform

"Creating a more modern and robust democracy for all Nebraskans."

Lincoln East students from NCR's Civic Action Project got to hear about the judiciary system from Federal Judge Kopf.

Nebraskans for Civic Reform (NCR) is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening civic education and community engagement, veterans job readiness, and making elections more accessible.

NCR achieves their goals by engaging and connecting Nebraskans and improving political participation in general that enriches the civic culture of the state.

Through their efforts they have established three primary program areas:

(1) K-12 civic engagement programs in urban and rural schools engage youth in their communities and build leadership skills through service learning and student driven experiential learning.

(2) Civic health initiatives across the state in both rural and urban communities strengthen social connectedness, confidence in institutions, community engagement and political involvement in a data based approach created by the first-ever Nebraska Civic Health Index and through the Civic Health Partnership, all managed by NCR.

(3) Non-partisan voting rights protection and Nebraska accessible elections policy and research - once people are engaged in their democracy, NCR protects voting rights through non-partisan litigation, advocacy,  election observation, research, and policy work.

OpenSky Policy Institute

"Clear thinking for a stronger Nebraska."

Presentation on Major State and Local Tax Revenue to the McCook Rotary.

OpenSky Policy Institute is a non-profit and non-partisan fiscal policy agency that helps inform legislators, elected officials, and the public about complex fiscal issues.  They work to improve opportunities for all Nebraskans through data-driven and impartial research, analysis, education, and leadership. In 2008, several Nebraska organizations recognized the need for an organization dedicated to fiscal research and analysis. Encouraged by a feasibility study revealing broad support from advocacy groups, policy makers and educators, a diverse group of funders from across the state provided the start up funds needed to make OpenSky Policy Institute a reality. Their major areas of research include the state budget and budgeting process, revenue, and Nebraska's K-12 public education system and its funding system.

Voices for Children in Nebraska

"Children are our state's greatest resource, and the decisions our leaders make about them impact our collective future."

Voices for Children in Nebraska has a 30 year track record of improving the lives of Nebraska’s children and youth through research, advocacy, and community engagement.

For 23 years, Voices for Children in Nebraska has published the annual Kids Count in Nebraska Report, the state's most comprehensive data resource on the well-being of all children in areas of health, education, safety, and economic stability. The data is important in determining needs, challenges, and opportunities for Nebraska's kids.

Policy victories for Nebraska's children don't just happen by accident. Using thorough research and skilled advocacy, Voices for Children is committed to ensuring that all Nebraska children continue to have a vital, trusted resource and voice in every classroom, courtroom, newsroom, and legislative chamber in the state.