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 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 – December 2021

ACLU of Nebraska: $25,000
General operating support to protect and expand civil rights and civil liberties in Nebraska. 

Banister’s Leadership Academy (Omaha, NE): $10,000
To support the Night LIFE (Leadership in a Fun Environment) program at the Malone Community Center for ages 5-18.

Chadron State College (Chadron, NE): $5,000
Support for the Chadron State Theatre Artist in Residence program.

Child Advocacy Center: $25,000
Staffing support for a Case Coordinator position.

Community CROPS: $20,000
Support to expand community-building and intercultural engagement in the Garden Program.

Indian Center, Inc.: $25,000
Support toward the position of Executive Director.

Humanities Nebraska: $20,000
In support of humanities programming including Capitol Forum on America’s Future and Nebraska Warrior Writers.

Lincoln Community Foundation: $2,500
Toward the Barbara Bartle Forever Fund in recognition of Barb Bartle’s leadership and contributions to the Lincoln community.

Lincoln Community Playhouse: $20,000
Staffing support for a full-time community relations, DEI, and education position.

Lincoln Literacy: $15,000
Operating support for Lincoln Literacy and the Bridgeway to a Better Life initiative.

Lincoln Public Schools: $30,000
Support for sustainability features, including interactive education and technology, to enhance two new high school campuses, Northwest High, and Standing Bear High Schools, opening in 2022 and 2023.

Metropolitan Opera/Nebraska Auditions: $1,000
Support for the annual Nebraska auditions of the Metropolitan Opera.

Multicultural Coalition (Grand Island, NE): $10,000
In support of a pilot program to provide immigrant consultation services off-site for parents at Lincoln Elementary School in Grand Island.

TeamMates Mentoring Program: $20,000
Toward general operating support for TeamMates Mentoring of Lincoln.

University of Nebraska State Museum: $12,000
Support for an educator guide and science activity kit to accompany a new traveling exhibit “Hidden Prairie: Exploring Life in One Square Meter.”

University of Nebraska-Lincoln, College of Journalism and Mass Communications: $28,000
Support for a pilot partnership with the Lincoln Public Schools Bay High School Focus Program to engage students with experiential learning opportunities in music, digital media, community storytelling, and college and career exploration.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln, E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues: $27,480
Support from the Thompson Family Fund, established at the Cooper Foundation in 1999 by E.N. “Jack” and Katie Thompson to support the Thompson Forum.

Willard Community Center: $10,000
General operating support for this community center serving southwest Lincoln.


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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