The Cooper Union Grant Program

The Cooper Union is committed to providing funding for projects that enhance our students’ learning experiences; our faculty’s teaching, scholarship, and practice; new ideas for our future; and opportunities for our community to come together in addressing the critical societal issues of our time through the CU Grant Program.

See the list of 2021 Grant Program Recipients and 2019 Grant Program Recipients

The Cooper Union’s organizational goals and strategic priorities guide the selection process:

Organizational Goals

  • Create an institution of excellence that:
    • Engages students in an academic program that is rigorous, supportive, and dynamic
    • Fosters a culture of curiosity, agency, compassion, and engagement
    • Is tuition-free and financially resilient
  • Prepare students to question and lead in a complex world
  • Develop leading-edge models for higher education that consider the ethical,
  • cultural, and environmental contexts and consequences of technical and creative disciplines
  • Lead by example to promote civil discourse and engagement on important civic issues
  • Advance the fields of Architecture, Art, and Engineering, and foster intersections of study and practice among them

Strategic Priorities

  • Fortify our rigorous professional schools
  • Return Cooper Union to full-tuition scholarships
  • Create opportunities for experimentation at the intersection of disciplines
  • Increase compositional diversity and diversity of thought, background, and experiences
  • Balance budget, build reserves, instill financial discipline
  • Develop programs, activities, and physical space to increase student engagement and improve student, staff, and faculty life
  • Set a leading edge standard for the integration of professional, practice-based education with a humanities and socio-political education
  • Integrate debate, public discourse, and public service orientation into academics, and actively contribute to the betterment of NY
  • Position the Great Hall as a premier forum to advance critical issues of our time

As these goals and priorities were developed, an outpouring of exciting and creative ideas emerged from the faculty, staff, and students of The Cooper Union. Grant support for these ideas will launch or propel vital lessons, discoveries, partnerships, and other creative expressions, while providing important experience from the process. The grants have been made possible by generous donors who value and seek to support the bright and inquisitive minds of Cooper’s faculty, staff, and students.

Grant Application Process

The following provides an overview of eligibility, funding availability, selection criteria, selection process, guidelines for submission, and reporting requirements. If you have any questions, please email them to


Any employee or current student of The Cooper Union can apply for the grant, individually or as part of a team of two or more people. You will be asked to provide the name(s) and affiliation(s) of the person (or people) applying for the grant.

Funding Availability

Applicants may request funds ranging from $500 to $10,000.

Selection Criteria

The only requirement is that the proposal advance Cooper Union’s institutional goals and strategic priorities. Preference will be given to the following types of proposals:

  • Projects and collaborations that further Cooper Union’s work to become an anti-racist and more equitable institution.
  • Proposals for work on decolonization of thought, practice, and scholarship at The Cooper Union.
  • Projects that address the environmental and public health challenges of the current moment.
  • Proposals that involve at least two of our four areas of academic study (architecture, art, engineering, and humanities/social sciences).
  • For course development or events, proposals that result in courses or events that are open to all students, regardless of which school they are in.
  • Proposals that involve a mix of faculty, staff, and students.
  • Proposals that can be implemented within 12 months of the date of the award. Proposals will also be considered for resources to support planning for longer-term projects (provided the planning will be completed within 12 months of the date of the award).
  • Projects and collaborations that are already being explored or implemented but need additional resources to move forward.
  • Projects that address a societal challenge or civic need.

You will be asked to provide:

  • A brief summary of the project/program (250 words or less)
  • Your goals for the project/program (250 words or less)
  • Budget for the entire project, including a basic list of expected expenses
  • Amount you are requesting for funding (which may be the same or less than the budget for the entire project)

Applications for projects during the 2021 calendar year are closed and grants have been awarded. Please look out for details in Fall 2021 for the 2022 application cycle.

Selection Process

A review committee (or committees) of faculty, staff, and students will make recommendations to the president and deans, who will consider the recommendations and make the final selections. Reviewers will be selected after proposals are submitted to avoid conflicts of interest.

Reporting Requirements

If the project is more than six months in length, a brief (100-250 words) update on the project mid-way through. At the end of the project, you will be asked to submit a brief (250 to 500 words) summary or what worked well, what you might do differently next time, the impact that you think the project had, and any next steps that you anticipate or recommend from having completed the project.

If you have questions about the process, send an email to


  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.