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 is an avid supporter of music organizations and programming.
PROFILE: The FirstEnergy Foundation is the philanthropic offshoot of FirstEnergy, a “diversified 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 music programming 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.
But the focus of its arts and culture giving—and therefore its support of music—lies in that phrase “vitality of our communities.” Community is the watchword here. 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 will also support music programming where it has additional business operations in Illinois and Michigan.
The FirstEnergy Foundation supports these communities by funding nonprofit, community-driven programming. This foundation has no interest in national or international level programming, which is great news for locally operated music organizations.
The FirstEnergy Foundation gives modest amounts, typically ranging from $500 to $2,500 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.
Though the FirstEnergy Foundation’s funding won’t be your music organization’s sole provider for the most part, the great news is that it’s interested in supporting a wide variety of endeavors. Recent music funding includes:
- $250,000 to the Musical Arts Association in Cleveland, OH;
- $13,800 to the Maryland Symphony Orchestra in Hagerstown, MD;
- $1,000 to the Akron Symphony Orchestra in Akron, OH;
- $750 to Oakwood Community Concerts in Oakwood Village, OH;
- $500 to the Toledo Opera in Toledo, OH;
- $500 to the Summit Choral Society in Akron, OH;
- $400 to the Edgewood Symphony Orchestra in Pittsburgh, PA;
- $100 to Berks Classical Children’s Chorus in Reading, PA.
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 music 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 FirstEnergy 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. (Do this using the Safari platform; the download of this Microsoft Word document does not seem to work in Firefox.)
- Charles E. Jones, President and Chief Executive Officer