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 – September 2021

Bright Lights: $7,500
Towards the 2022 summer camp programming. 

CenterPointe: $30,000
Toward client and staffing support.

Civic Nebraska: $15,000
Support for civic health education through the Capitol Experience Day Program.

Down Syndrome Association for Families of Nebraska: $12,000
Support for staffing.

HopeSpoke: $20,000
Support for outpatient therapy programs.

Legacy of the Plains Museum (Gering, NE): $10,000
Towards the Japanese Hall and History project.


Legal Aid of Nebraska, (Omaha, NE): $10,000
Toward the UPLIFT project that brings legal services to low-income clients in Lincoln.

Lincoln Children’s Museum: $25,000
Support for exhibits.

Meadowlark Music Festival: $15,000
To support the Festival’s 20th anniversary season.

MENTOR Nebraska, (Omaha, NE): $20,000
To support mentoring programs and organizations in Lincoln.

Nebraska Indian Child Welfare Coalition, (Bloomfield, NE): $30,000
To support a staff position.

NeighborWorks Lincoln: $30,000
To support the program design and implementation of a citywide Community Land Trust.

South of Downtown Community Development Organization: $10,000
Toward the South of Downtown Redevelopment & Strategic Plan.

United Way of Lincoln and Lancaster County: $21,000
Towards the 2021 campaign.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Nebraska Repertory Theatre: $15,000
Support for the 2021-2022 season.

Voices of Hope: $15,000
For general operating support.


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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