1934—Cooper Foundation founded on December 14.
1935 – The Foundation gave its first grant, $500 to the Boy Scouts for camp improvements.
1938 – The first memorial scholarships at the University of Nebraska Foundation established in honor of deceased trustees J.E. Miller and Charles Stuart.
1942— First grant for the 'Arts' made to the Lincoln Symphony Orchestra.
1942 - The Cooper Board of Trustees extended the life of the corporation from 50 years to “perpetuity,” which would ultimately positively impact the foundation’s investment policy.
1946 – The Board of Trustees began what was to become a decades-long discussion with the IRS to retain the Foundation’s tax exempt status while owning a multi-state theatre business.
1947 – Major grants totaling $61,000 given to the University of Nebraska for campus beautification.
1953 – Trustee J. Lee Rankin resigned to become Assistant United States Attorney General.
1956—Trustees consolidated leadership of the theatre business in Lincoln from Denver, Colorado and appointed Ken Anderson general manager.
1957 – Cooper Theatres offers life and health insurance for employees.
1958 – The Board begins to budget for grants and to consider specific grantmaking objectives.
1961—Cooper’s first Cinerama theatre opened.
1963—Grantmaking was tabled due to lack of funds.
1963 - On New Year’s Eve, E.N. “Jack” Thompson was elected president.
1965 – Cooper Foundation joins the Council on Foundations.
1967 – New Cooper Lincoln theatre opens in “suburban Lincoln.”
1969 – The Tax Reform Act formally defines private foundations and establishes rules on payout requirements, self-dealing, and business ownership.
1970 - $1,000 given to a student-led effort to purchase “Sandy in Defined Space” for the Sheldon Sculpture Garden.
1973 – Cooper Plaza building housing the new Plaza 4 Theatres at 12th & P Streets is completed, and the Foundation moves its headquarters from the Stuart Building.
1974 – The Foundation’s first formal grantmaking policies are adopted.
1975—Cooper funded a grant to equip the new Cedar Point Biological Station at Lake McConaughy.
1977—The Foundation made an initial $100,000 pledge (later increased to $200,000) to increase Merit Scholarships at the University of Nebraska.
1978—At the June board meeting, the Trustees reviewed the largest ever pool of grant applications: 30.
1978 – Kathryn “Tish” Druliner is the first woman elected to the Board of Trustees.
1979 – The Foundation sells the Cooper Theatres business to Commonwealth Theatres of Kansas City.
1980—A $70,000 grant was made toward the planned Clyde Malone Community Center.
1986—Cooper granted $10,000 toward the first barrier-free playground, located in Antelope Park.
1987—A $70,000 grant helped establish Voices for Children.
1988—A $5,000 grant to relocate KUCV from Union College to the NET Commission, paving the way for a statewide public radio and television network.
1988—A grant of $8,500 helped establish Bright Lights.
1989 – The Cooper-UNL Forum on World issues lecture series is created, later renamed for E.N. Thompson.
1990 – Art Thompson was hired as President; E.N. Thompson was elected Chair of the board.
1997—A $25,000 grant was made toward the founding of the Child Advocacy Center.
1997 – The Foundation sold the Cooper Plaza building.
1998—A $25,000 grant to the YMCA helped create a “community wraparound center,” (later renamed Community Learning Center) at Elliot Elementary School.
1999—Jack and Katie Thompson increased the Thompson Family Fund at the Cooper Foundation from $100,000 to $250,000, thereby more than doubling funding for the E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues.
2000 – The Board of Trustees added the ‘Environment’ as a grantmaking priority.
2000—The Board approved $10,000 toward the Meadowlark Music Festival’s inaugural season.
2000 – A grant of $250,000 completed the capital campaign for the Cooper YMCA in Southwest Lincoln.
2001 – The Foundation received $192,387.22, the remainder of a trust set up by Joe Cooper in 1937 for his son – those funds were granted to UNL’s Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center for their new building.
2002—Jack Thompson died on December 7; Jack Campbell was elected chair of the board in early 2003.
2007—The Foundation made a major change in its investment policy, allocating 100 percent of its endowment to equities to maximize appreciation and grants.
2008—The stock market declined, as did the Cooper Foundation’s endowment, which plummeted from $24.9 million to $14.9 million. The board adopted temporary grant guidelines calling for smaller grants that focused on the highest priorities.
2010 – A grant to NET Foundation for Television of $20,000 for equipment helped launch the Platte Basin Time-lapse Project (total funding to date is $165,000).
2013—The Foundation began supporting the Hear Lincoln Summer Concert Series, a joint venture of the Lincoln Chamber Foundation and Hear Nebraska.
2014 – Longtime legal counsel Richard A. “Dick” Knudsen was named an Honorary Trustee.