OVERVIEW: The FirstEnergy Foundation is the charitable arm of FirstEnergy, a U.S.-based “diversified energy company.” The foundation focuses on arts and culture, civic projects, and education through its support of community-driven programs.
IP TAKE: The FirstEnergy Foundation gives modest amounts to a long list of organizations, so while this funder won’t cover all of your needs, it will pay attention. If you’re operating in a community that receives FirstEnergy services (and it’s a healthy list), the FirstEnergy Foundation might support your dance organization, though in recent years it has been less active in this category than other realms of the performing arts.
PROFILE: The FirstEnergy Foundation is the philanthropic offshoot of FirstEnergy, an energy company headquartered in Akron, OH. The foundation seeks to support and improve life in the communities in which it has offices and provides services, and does this by giving to civic and economic development, education initiatives, and arts and culture.
Technically speaking, the FirstEnergy Foundation’s support of dance programs and organizations falls within its self-structured category of “vitality of our communities.” This is the box you will check off in your application to the foundation when you hit that stage of the game (more on that below).
The FirstEnergy Foundation’s support of dance-specific organizations has been limited in recent years, but the potential is there, because the foundation's commitment to the arts as an aspect of “vitality” is not just lip service. Every year on its 990, there are over 60 organizations that it has donated to within “Arts & Culture.” This is a true focus of giving for the FirstEnergy Foundation.
In terms of geography, the foundation’s main interests are the communities to which its corporate arm provides services. This includes substantial swaths Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and New Jersey, as well as portions of Maryland and Virginia. The foundation also supports music programming where it has additional business operations in Illinois and Michigan.
The FirstEnergy Foundation supports these communities by funding non-profit, community-driven programming. This foundation has no interest in national or international level programming, which is great news for locally operated dance organizations.
The FirstEnergy Foundation gives modest amounts, typically ranging from $500 to $2500, in the arts and culture realm. But depending on your needs and your ask, it’s game to provide you with just that extra $50 you need—or on much rarer occasions, that $250,000 that will catapult you to the next level.
The FirstEnergy Foundation’s funding won’t be your dance organization’s sole provider, but the foundation's recent giving shows a great range of organizations it has supported, including some in the dance realm:
- GoggleWorks Center for the Arts in Reading, PA;
- Cuyahoga Valley Youth Ballet in Cuyahoga Falls, OH;
- Ashtabula Arts Center in Ashtabula, OH;
- Great Lakes Youth Ballet Company in Cleveland, OH.
Because it generally doesn’t give huge amounts, the FirstEnergy Foundation likes to know that you’ve created additional partnerships and have cultivated other funding resources to assure your dance program’s financial health. The foundation asks you to discuss these partnerships and funding sources on your grant application.
And about that grant application: the foundation does not formally accept unsolicited ones. Do not let this deter you. The foundation encourages you to make contact with local FirstEnergy management (again, it’s about community). The foundation also encourages you to reach out to the staff of its Community Involvement Department (see below).
While you’re making those inroads, you can also take a look at the grant application you will eventually fill out.