Our mission is to support strong, sustainable organizations, innovative ideas and ventures of significant promise. The Foundation makes grants to nonprofit 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 an online application process 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 2024

Boys & Girls Club of Lincoln/Lancaster County: $10,000
General operating support to provide safe spaces, caring mentors, and high-impact programs to over 400 youth, ages 11-18 at Park Middle School, Lincoln North Star and Lincoln Northwest High Schools.

Civic Nebraska: $15,000
For Capitol Experience Day programming for the 2024-2025 year, which provides immersive experiences at the Nebraska State Capitol to increase understanding of government processes, and opportunities for firsthand civic engagement for students and adults.

ECHO Collective: $10,000
General operating to support entrepreneurship programs, professional development, and networking to further job opportunities for refugee and immigrant women.

Junior Achievement: $10,000
To support the expansion of Junior Achievement programming into K-3rd grade classrooms in Lincoln Public Schools.

Lincoln Arts Council: $20,000
General operating support for the organization’s efforts to enhance access, engagement, and community development with the arts in Lincoln.    

Meadowlark Music Festival: $10,000
General operating support for the 2024-25 season. Meadowlark Music Festival is Nebraska’s premier international summer chamber music festival, bringing musicians from around the world to Lincoln and surrounding areas for concerts and educational outreach programs.

Nebraska Appleseed: $10,000
To support a community-informed research project focused on improving Nebraska’s Aid to Dependent Children (ADC) program.

Nebraska Civic Engagement Table: $7,500
General operating to support voter education efforts in Lancaster County and communities statewide.

Nebraska Transition College: $7,500
Support to sustain and expand the position of Residential Program Coordinator.

Northeast Family Center: $15,000
General operating support for this neighborhood and childcare center serving northeast Lincoln.

Prairie Loft Center for Outdoor & Agricultural Learning (Hastings, NE): $10,000
General operating support. Prairie Loft Center, located in Hastings, is the region’s only outdoor and agriculture-based learning center.

Solidago Conservancy: $20,000
General operating support for conservation efforts within Lincoln and Lancaster County to protect and enhance natural, recreational, historic, and scenic resources for future generations.  

University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Honors Program: $9,300
Cooper Connections, in partnership with the University Honors Program, to support interns and Cooper Conversations for students and the public in coordination with the E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues.

Willa Cather Foundation (Red Cloud, NE): $20,000
General operating support to expand arts and educational programs for this organization dedicated to one of America’s most important writers. Created in 1955, the Foundation owns and operates the National Willa Cather Center and the nation’s largest collection of nationally designated historic sites dedicated to an American author.


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.

The number of people displaced by conflict, disasters and economic crisis has risen to a new high of over 89 million, including over 30 million refugees and asylum seekers. “Uprooted” shares stories of displaced people in search of hope and home.

2023 – 2024 Forum Season Schedule
“A World on the Move: The Forces Uprooting Us”
9.18.2023 – 7:00-8:00 PM – Lied Center for Performing Arts
Global strategy advisor and bestselling author exploring the future of humanity
“Displacement and Reimangining the American Dream”
11.14.2023 – 6:30-8:00 PM – Wick Alumni Center
Local youth sharing their lived experiences as immigrants and refugees
“Of Love & War: Stories of Tragedy & Resilence” 

3.5.2024 – 7:00-8:00 PM – Lied Center for Performing Arts
Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist covering conflicts, disasters and displacement
“Back Home: Returning Human Rights to Housing”

4.9.2024 – 7:00-8:00 PM – Lied Center for Performing Arts
Global Director of The Shift and former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing

Free tickets at the door or in advance: ENTHOMPSON.UNL.EDU

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