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Application & Funding


Think BIG!!!

The William J. Cooper Foundation Committee will be accepting the first step in applying. Letters of Inquiry (LOI) can be submitted through February 2, 2024 for Cooper and Promise Grants for events proposed in 2024-2025 and 2025-2026.  Please complete the Letter of Inquiry on this form.


Apply to Organize Your Own Event

Students, faculty, and staff of the Swarthmore College community are encouraged to propose an event for any semester in which they are on campus. 

Purpose of Cooper Grants

The William J. Cooper Foundation was established to bring to campus leaders in a broad range of fields and disciplines, including education, politics, the arts and sciences, and business for the benefit of faculty, students, staff, and the College community.

William J. Cooper made a gift through his will in the 1920's to Swarthmore College, “ order that the Faculty, Students, and the College community may be broadened by a closer acquaintance with matters of world interest.” Cooper specified his gift should be used, “ bringing to the college eminent citizens of this and other countries who are leaders in statesmanship, education, the arts, sciences, learned professions, and business.” 

Letter of Inquiry and Application

Applying for a Cooper Grant or a Promise Grant for 2024-25 or 2025-26 begins with submitting a short Letter of Inquiry (LOI). This gives each applicant the opportunity to present a brief, focused summary of topic(s) which the proposed event(s) will engage the Swarthmore College community, and in what way(s) the proposed guest(s) will enrich the academic work of Swarthmore College. Upon acceptance of the LOI, applicants will be invited to submit an application including details on specific activities, space and technical needs, budget requirements, etc. This year’s deadline for a Letter of Inquiry will be February 2, 2024 with full applications due from those selected to apply by March 20, 2024.

Today the Cooper Committee awards three distinct grants:

  • Cooper Grants are made in support of topical events in a future academic year featuring guests who are eminent in their fields.
  • Promise Grants are made in support of topical events in a future academic year featuring guests who show promise of distinguished achievement in their fields.  Some years after the Cooper Foundation was established, an alumnus anonymously established the Promise Fund to bring “...guest speakers and performers in music, film, dance, and theatre that show promise of distinguished achievement.” 
  • Serendipity Grants are made from Cooper funds and are in support of topical events in the current academic year featuring guests who are either eminent in their fields or show promise of distinguished achievement. Only a Serendipity Application is required but must meet the same standards and criteria as Cooper and Promise Grants. Serendipity Grants are typically awarded up to $3000 with occasional awards to a maximum of $5,000.  These are awarded on a rolling basis throughout the year while funds are available.

Note: Student applicants must identify a faculty or staff adviser who agrees to work in the planning and production of the event by meeting regularly and assuring all final details are taken care of.

Criteria for Awards

Speakers or performers must meet criteria established by the donors of the respective funds. When reviewing applications the Committee considers the following:

  1. Does the topic or subject matter of the proposed event address an issue or issues of broad current interest, particularly where a speaker or performer from outside the campus community can help to broaden the community’s awareness and understanding of the issue(s)?
  2. Does the proposed event demonstrate breadth of appeal? Events likely to draw a campus-wide audience are preferred over more specialized programs.
  3. Does the proposed event allow for sustained interaction between the speakers/performers and the campus community?
  4. Will all aspects of the event be open to the wider campus community?
  5. Does the proposed event complement other types of events (e.g. symposia, lectures, performances) and other subject matter funded by Cooper, Promise, and Serendipity grants during the year?