Breakthrough Initiative Grants

Breakthrough Initiative Grants from Woods Charitable Fund support promising and groundbreaking new programs, collaborations and/or organizational best practices in Lincoln, Nebraska.

In 2020, these competitive grants ranging from $150,000 to $500,000 per year will be awarded to one or more selected projects, with multi-year funding possible. Applying for a Breakthrough grant will not exclude a nonprofit organization from also applying for WCF’s traditional funding awards during its regular grant cycles in May and November.

Funded projects could address challenges or needs of broad relevance to Lincoln or a very significant challenge affecting a small but unique and vulnerable population in Lincoln. A proposed project could test a specific, innovative new response to an identified problem with a commitment to make the findings widely and openly accessible.

Those applying may propose activities or approaches that involve risk-taking, as long as the risk is balanced by the significant potential for improvement for the nonprofits and the populations they serve.

Woods Charitable Fund awarded Breakthrough Initiative Grants in 2017 and 2018 and did not offer a Breakthrough Initiative Grant opportunity in 2019.


Nonprofit organizations with a 501(c)(3) status located in Lincoln, Nebraska, or with a proposal directly benefiting Lincoln are eligible to apply. If the project is a collaboration, partnering organizations must submit evidence of support. University or government entities may collaborate as partners on a project but cannot serve as the project’s lead agency.

The proposed project must fit within WCF’s traditional funding interest areas: Arts & Culture, Civic & Community, Education and Human Services.

More information on our:

  • Funding Interests is available here.
  • Grant-making considerations is available here.
  • Projects and areas ineligible for funding is available here.

How to Apply

Nonprofits interested in applying for a Breakthrough grant must first contact WCF to discuss the proposal, and then be invited to complete an electronic Letter of Intent (LOI). To discuss the proposal idea, please call Woods Charitable Fund at (402) 436-5971 or email information about the proposal to The completed electronic LOI will include:

  • a summary of the need, problem or opportunity to be addressed, supported by local data;
  • a proposed plan detailing project goals and the activities the grant would fund to achieve them;
  • an explanation of how the project qualifies as innovative;
  • a list of project partners and their roles, if applicable; and
  • an estimated one-year project budget.

WCF staff will notify organizations if they may proceed with a full proposal for a Breakthrough grant, and finalists will be expected to present information about their proposal to the WCF staff and board of directors.

Request for Proposals Announced August 1, 2019
Letter of Intent Due September 16, 2019
Notice Inviting or Declining Full Proposal October 1, 2019
Full Proposal Submission Due January 15, 2020
Notify Finalists January 31, 2020
Proposal Presentation by Finalists Late February 2020 (date TBD)
Award(s) Announcement mid-late May 2020