FirstEnergy Foundation: Grants for Visual Arts

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 initiatives, and arts and culture in the communities in which it has offices and provides services. The foundation’s visual arts programming 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 visual arts programs 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 visual arts organizations.

The FirstEnergy Foundation funds modestly, typically arts and culture amounts range from $500 to $2,500. However, depending on grant seekers’ 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.

Though the FirstEnergy Foundation typically will not be a visual arts program’s sole funder, it does provide support for a wide variety of endeavors. Past visual arts funding includes the Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg, PA; the Akron Art Museum in Akron, OH; GoggleWorks Center for the Arts in Reading, PA;  the Green Arts Council in Green, OH;  the Ashtabula Arts Center in Ashtabula, OH; and the Toledo Museum of Art in Toledo, OH. The foundation prefers grant seekers that have created additional partnerships and cultivated other funding resources to assure their arts 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 does encourage grant seekers 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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