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.

Grants Approved – June 2021

Blixt Locally Grown: $5,000
To support the inaugural year of the Blixt Fellowship program for emerging playwrights. 

Center for Legal Immigration Assistance: $20,000
For general operating support.

Conservation Nebraska: $15,000
To expand the Conservation Nebraska’s Common Ground Program in Southeast Nebraska.

Flatwater Shakespeare Company: $14,000
Toward general operating focused on supporting their educational programming and outreach.

Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska: $7,500
In support of the Lincoln Outreach Program for Lincoln area girls in grades K-12.

Lincoln Crossroads Music Festival: $15,000
To help underwrite fees and expenses of local touring musicians for the 2021 Lincoln Crossroads Music Festival (July 31-August 8).

Lincoln/Lancaster County Habitat for Humanity: $15,000
Towards a software program that will better track all housing work, including new houses and the home repair program. 

Lincoln Police Department $15,000
To fund the Clutch Mentor program to reduce gang membership by partnering at-risk youth on probation with an adult mentor and incentive programming.

Nebraska Cultural Endowment: $15,000
For general operating support.

Nebraska Transition College: $7,500
To support the creation of a social, living, and work-ready skills development curriculum for individuals with disabilities.

Prairie Loft Center for Agriculture & Outdoor Education, Hastings, NE: $15,000
To support experiential learning programming and build capacity to assess education and community engagement efforts with families and schools. 

St. Monica’s: $20,000
To purchase and update security and technology for their facilities and programs.

The Bridge Behaviorial Health: $20,000
To replace The Bridge’s outdated HVAC unit.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Honors Program: $18,000
Toward Cooper Connections at the University Honors Program, including Cooper Conversations that bring students and community leaders together for ciritical dialogue, and Cooper Community Scholars, an experiential learning scholarship to engage Honors students with local organizations, elected officials, and community programs.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln, E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues: $250,000
To support the Thompson Forum on World Issues series for 2022 – 2026. The Thompson Forum is Nebraska’s premiere lecture series, established in 1988 with the purpose of bringing a diversity of viewpoints on international and public policy issues to the University and the people of Nebraska to promote understanding of global issues that face us all. The Thompson Forum is a collaborative program of the Cooper Foundation, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lied Center for Performing Arts, and is presented by the University of Honors Program.


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.

moments of reckoning

After a painful year of protest and a global pandemic, the world is reemerging with a clearer understanding of the broad and complex picture of systemic racism and the need for action. The 2021-2022 season events highlight historical and contemporary cases of discrimination and recognize efforts to dismantle oppression in the quest for justice.

2021 – 2022 Forum Season Schedule
UNL Faculty Discussion “GLOBAL AND HISTORICAL MOMENTS OF RECKONING” 9.1.2021 – 7:00 PM – Kimball Hall Featuring Diedre Cooper Owens, Margaret Jacobs, Will Thomas and Ng’ang’a Wahu-Mũchiri
Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia “FACING IMMIGRANT EXCLUSION: THEN AND NOW” 11.2.2021 – 7:00 PM – Lied Center for Performing Arts Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Penn State Law
Anna Deavere Smith “A CONVERSATION ON RACE AND THE ARTS” – Moderated by Sandra Washington 2.9.2022 – 4:00 PM – Lied Center for Performing Arts World-renowned playwright, actress, author, journalist, and educator
Forum Youth Panel “PERFORMATIVE ACTIVISM: YOUTHS RECKONING WITH RACIAL JUSTICE 3.22.2022 – 7:00 PM – The Bay – 2005 Y Street Activists within the UNL and Lincoln communities come together to discuss racial justice
Walter Echo-Hawk “RECKONING AND RECONCILIATION ON THE GREAT PLAINS” 4.6.2022 – 7:00 PM – Lied Center for Performing Arts Native American attorney, Tribal judge, author, activist, and law professor
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