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 Approved – August 2020

El Centro de las Americas: $10,000,
operating support
El Centro has been providing services for over 35 years in the areas of education, family support, youth empowerment, health, and resource navigation. Latinx families, served by El Centro, have been the hardest-hit by the pandemic. Due to COVID-19, the staff have seen opportunities to increase services via online and remote options. 

Jewish Federation of Omaha-Institute for Holocaust Education: $7,500, operating support
The Institute for Holocaust Education (IHE) provides educational resources, workshops, survivor testimony, and integrated arts programming to students, educators, and the public. Since March, IHE has worked to redefine and redesign all programing and educational opportunities to serve its educators and thousands of students virtually. 

Lincoln Arts Council: $5,000,
operating support
As a result of COVID-19, the Lincoln Arts Council (LAC) has found alternative ways to help the arts community in Lincoln. LAC acts as a conduit between artists and schools, and they are expanding to place artists with community groups for programs and projects, including community-building neighborhood arts programs to use the arts as a tool to foster resilience and to uplift social inclusion.

Lincoln Childrens Zoo: $10,000, program support
Due to the pandemic, the Lincoln Children’s Zoo closed for 80 days but running the facilities and caring for the animals continued. The Zoo reopened to introduce the Wildlife Walk and safely welcome guests back. This adventure will take guests on a one-way route throughout the Zoo to see the many beloved animals.

Lincoln Lancaster County Habitat for Humanity: $5,000, operating support
For more than 30 years Habitat for Humanity of Lincoln has built or repaired more than 162 local homes; housing more than 750 men, women and children. The pandemic has delayed some activities but helped to accelerate others as they move forward. After they closed ReStore, their recycled building goods store, they were able to launch an online e-store and app.

Nebraska Children and Families Foundation: $10,000, program support
Nebraska Children and Families Foundation works with community collaboratives to provide one-stop access to resources, and continues to adapt and streamline its model to meet the needs of communities across Nebraska. It is working to help develop rapid response plans, coordinate activities across the public/private sectors, and address emergent needs. In a direct response to COVID-19, NC provided devices and virtual activities for students to stay connected.

Nebraska Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence:
$5,000, operating support
The Nebraska Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence is a statewide network of 20 member organizations which offers a range of services to adult and child victims of sexual and domestic violence. During the pandemic, the Coalition has consulted with national partners to align a more unified approach and invested in additional software to continue its assessment of members, training registration, and data collection.

YWCA Lincoln: $10,000, operating support
In response to COVID-19, YWCA Lincoln immediately pivoted to provide support for program participants, families, and others in need. They have provided housing and transportation assistance, medical supplies, delivery and distribution of care packages, educational supports, and personal necessities. They also continue advocacy efforts to promote the 2020 Census, voting, and civic engagement.


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
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