Our mission is to support strong, sustainable organizations, innovative ideas and ventures of significant promise. The Foundation makes grants to non-profit organizations located in and working in Nebraska, primarily Lincoln and Lancaster County.

Grant Eligibility

We provide grants to nonprofit organizations located and working in Nebraska, primarily in our geographic priority area of Lincoln and Lancaster County. We fund programs and operations in the areas of the Arts, Civic and Community Engagement, Education, Environment, Human Services, and Humanities. Organizations must provide strong programming and evidence of sound governance and fiscal management.

Application Process

Organizations interested in applying should review our Eligibility & Funding Priorities. If you think our funding is a good fit for your organization or project, contact us at info@cooperfoundation.org. Include information about your organization, project or program, and budget. 

If our funding is a fit, we wil provide instructions to apply. We have a two-stage application in our online system and make grant decisions quarterly. Learn more about our forms, process, and funding considerations here.

Rapid Response Grants Recap

Learn about the Rapid Response grants awarded in response to the COVID-19 health crisis. Click here for the Recap.

Rapid Response Grants Approved – September 2020

Bridges to Hope: $7,500,
operating support
Bridges to Hope serves as the first point of contact after incarceration to connect vital services, programs and necessities for men and women reentering society. They were forced to close March through May but still served 206 women and men in this period of time.

CEDARS Youth Services: $10,000, operating support
CEDARS is the primary agency that supports homeless and near-homeless youth, and the Youth Opportunity Center is a critical component of those services, providing a place to get meals, do laundry, and connect with community services, mentors and peers in a safe and welcoming environment. They have adapted services to serve youth safely through the pandemic,

Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools: $10,000, operating support
FLPS has continued to secure funding for emergency needs for students and families, including administering federal CARES dollars. They are working with LPS to fill gaps, such as protective gear for music students and funds for coats and winter clothing.

Nebraska Statewide Arboretum, Inc,: $5,000,
operating support
The Nebraska Statewide Arboretum (NSA) is part of a public-private partnership between UNL Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The NSA provides planting guides, landscaping management, and educational resources for all in the community in an effort to support native plants and biodiversity in Nebraska.

Nebraska Writers Collective (Omaha, NE): $7,500, operating support
Nebraska Writers Collective has two important programs in Lincoln – with youth and with those in the Lincoln Correctional Center – that provide creative learning, acceptance, and a sense of belonging. They have worked to move the programming online with success.

Northeast Family Center: $10,000, operating support
The Northeast Family Center (NFC) provides child care and serves as the host agency for the before and after school programming at Brownell and Norwood Park Elementary Schools. In response to the pandemic, NFC  pivoted quickly to offer its own facility to continue programs, and financing solutions for families having difficulties paying for care.

Prairie Loft Center (Hastings, NE): $5,000, operating support
The Prairie Loft Center offers activities centered around agricultural and environmental education to promote healthy connections and community engagement to people of all ages. They remained opened to offer families and schools active outdoor learning, adapting their experiential education program to include home delivered activity packs, virtual field trips and lesson plans.

TADA Productions, Inc.: $7,500, operating support
TADA halted its 20th anniversary season which resulted in the cancellation of all shows. To adapt to limitations, TADA was able to stay connected to patrons to create TADA’s Talent Tonight featuring performances attracting over 5,000 viewers. 

United Way of Lincoln/Lancaster County:
$19,934, operating support
In support of the 2020 annual campaign.

University of Nebraska State Museum: $5,000, operating support
The University of Nebraska State Museum Education Department is in charge of the creation, delivery and outreach for all museum programming at Morrill Hall. It serves an average of 35,000 Pre-K through 12th grade students and teachers, and an additional 65,000 visitors. Due to the pandemic, the Museum closed its doors from March through August and pivoted to provide free, online access to programs and resources. 

Willa Cather Foundation (Red Cloud, NE): $10,000, operating support
The Willa Cather Foundation has been able to adapt their services and activities to an online format with success. The Foundation introduced virtual programming to include four art exhibits, guided site tours, a new National Poetry Month project, a student theater production and hosted their annual Spring Conference virtually. 

Willard Community Center: $10,000, operating support
The Willard Community Center (WCC) is the lead agency for the Before and After school programs at Roper Elementary and Lakeview Elementary Schools, and offers early childhood education, summer learning opportunities, and senior programs. Due to the pandemic, WCC closed for two weeks in March and rapidly responded to update curriculums, safety policies, and staff training to meet new regulations. 


Over the past three decades, the E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues has established itself as one of the preeminent speakers series in higher education. The series brings to Nebraska thought provoking lectures by speakers whose work and ideas impact our changing world.

The Forum is a cooperative project of the Cooper Foundation, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lied Center for Performing Arts, and University Honors Program.

2020-2021 Forum Schedule
Mary Pipher
9.2.2020 – 7:00 PM
Author, Activist, and Clinical Psychologist
Doris Kearns Goodwin
9.22.2020 – 7:30 PM
Presidential Historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning Author
The 25th Annual Governor’s Lecture in the Humanities, presented by Humanities Nebraska
Xiuhtezcatl Martinez
11.4.2020 – 7:00 PM
Indigenous Climate Activist, Hip Hop Artist

Forum Youth Panel
2.24.2021 – 7:00 PM
Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts
Ann Bancroft
3.31.2021 – 7:00 PM
Polar Explorer, Climate Advocate, Philanthropist
Contact Us

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