FirstEnergy Foundation: Grants for Journalism

OVERVIEW: The FirstEnergy Foundation is the charitable arm of FirstEnergy, a U.S.-based “diversified energy company.” The foundation prioritizes 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 will not cover all funding needs, it will pay attention. The FirstEnergy Foundation is an avid supporter of music organizations and programming in communities that receive FirstEnergy services.

PROFILE: The FirstEnergy Foundation is the philanthropic offshoot of FirstEnergy, a “diversified energy company” headquartered in Akron, OH. The foundation seeks to contribute “to local nonprofit organizations” to “help strengthen the social and economic fabric of our communities.” It does this by giving to civic and economic development, education, arts, and culture in the communities in which it has offices and provides services. The foundation’s journalism and media support falls within its “vitality of our communities” category.

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 journalism and media where it has additional business operations in Illinois and Michigan.

The FirstEnergy Foundation supports these communities by funding nonprofit, community-driven programming. This foundation is uninterested in national or international level programming, which is great news for locally operated journalistic organizations.

The FirstEnergy Foundation funds modestly, typically arts and culture amounts range from $500 to $2,500. However, depending on grantseekers’ needs, the foundation is open to increasing that amount an extra $50 or, on much rarer occasions, an extra $250,000 to help a project reach the next level. Past journalism and media funding include ideastream, Northeastern Educational Television of Ohio, the Public Broadcasting Foundation of NW Ohio; and Berks Community Television in Reading, PA.

The foundation prefers grantseekers that have created additional partnerships and cultivated other funding resources to assure their music program’s financial health. The foundation asks applicants to discuss these partnerships and funding sources on the grant application.

The FirstEnergy Foundation does not formally accept unsolicited grant applications. However, the foundation encourages grantseekers to make contact with local FirstEnergy management and to reach out to the staff of its Community Involvement Department. Meanwhile, grantseekers should familiarize themselves with the grant application they will eventually fill out.


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