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 Education, Human Services, Arts, Humanities, Environment, and Community Improvement. 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.

Grants Approved – December 2019

Lincoln Orchestra Association: $2,500
Operating support.

CEDARS Youth Services: $30,000
To support a staff therapist position for the youth emergency shelter.

Center for People in Need: $20,000
General operating support. 

Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools: $15,000
To support scholarships for the Spark Summer Learning program.

Groundwater Foundation: $12,500
General operating support.

HoChunk Community Development Corporation: (Winnebago, NE) $15,000
Support for HoChunk Harvest, a major food sovereignty initiative led by the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska reservation. Created in response to pervasive nutrition-related health problems and poor access to food.

Humanities Nebraska: $2,500
Program support. 

Lauritzen Gardens: (Omaha, NE) $10,000
To support the seed bank conservation program to save endangered plants in Nebraska and the Great Plains. 

Lincoln Housing Authority: $10,000
In support of the Student-build House program in partnership with Lincoln Northeast High School and Lincoln Public Schools.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Center for Great Plains Studies: $10,000
In support of the April 2020 symposium on, “Climate Change & Culture in the Great Plains.”

University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Honors Program: $4,000
To pilot five monthly Cooper Conversations for students, community stakeholders, and faculty to discuss issues of local and global importance as it relates to community building and civic engagement.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Jazz in June: $5,000
Toward the 29th year of Jazz in June in the summer of 2020.


University of Nebraska-Lincoln, International Quilty Study Center & Museum: $15,000
To support an Education Coordinator staff position. 

University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lied Center for Performing Arts: $10,000
General operating support for education programming and residency activities for the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company performance.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Platte Basin Timelapse: $50,000
Operating support for 2020 and 2021 for ongoing data collection and multimedia content creation for the Platte Basin Timelapse project.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln, E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues: $20,553
Support for the 2020-2021 series from the Thompson Family Fund, established at the Cooper Foundation in 1999 by E.N. “Jack” and Katie Thompson to support the Thompson Forum.



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, Lied Center for Performing Arts, and University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

2019 Forum Schedule
Nadia Murad
September 17, 2019 – 6:00 P.M.
Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Yazidi human rights activist, advocate for survivors of genocide and sexual violence.
Leymah Gbowee
October 1, 2019 – 6:00 P.M.
Nobel Peace Prize recipent, Liberian peace activist and women’s rights advocate.
Farah Pandith
October 8, 2019 – 6:00 P.M.
Foreign policy strategist, former diplomat and world-leading expert in countering violent extremism. 
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