Colorado bar foundation


The Colorado Bar Foundation has been providing grants to Colorado nonprofits for 70 years.  Since 1953 the Foundation has awarded more than $2.5 million in grants. 

Foundation grants support statewide, regional, or local projects with demonstrated community need.  Established programs and new or innovative projects are encouraged to apply. We fund programs, projects, and organizations that: 

  • assist in the provision or improved delivery of legal services to the disadvantaged 

  • promote law-related education, and/or  

  • improve the administration of justice 

In 2023, the Foundation awarded $305,475 to 70 grantees throughout Colorado with an average grant size of $4,364. Please review our Annual Report for additional details on our 2023 funding cycle. If you know of an organization or program that could benefit from the Foundation’s grants, please encourage them to apply. 


The Evaluation Process and Criteria 

Each year, the Board of Trustees meets to review applications to determine the current year’s awards.  In particular, the Board of Trustees strives to identify a pool of grantees that are diverse in terms of geographical location, subject-matter emphasis, and need. To increase efficiency for Foundation applicants, the grant application has been streamlined to eliminate several requirements, especially within the financial portion of the application. 

Please note that the Foundation prefers to fund specific program expenses rather than general operating funds.  Exceptions are made for organizations whose missions strongly and wholly align with the three funding areas noted above.  Additionally, in its grant-review process, the Foundation generally considers the availability of other grant funds when allocating grant resources.  The size of each grant award is dependent upon the amount requested, the size of the organization, and the total grant funds available for the year. Small organizations and organizations located in rural areas of the state are encouraged to apply. 


During its evaluation process, the Board of Trustees places specific emphasis on the following factors: 

  • alignment with the three funding areas 

  • clarity of application and sufficiency of information provided 

  • financial stability of the organization or program 

  • financial needs of the organization or program 

  • community need and impact 

  • geographic impact 

  • ability and likelihood of success of the organization or program 


Please note that the Colorado Bar Foundation will not provide funding for the following excluded activities: 

  • grant making organizations except COLTAF 

  • political campaigns or activities 

  • endowments, fundraising benefits or solicitations; 

  • programs that are wholly or significantly funded by government grants or funds 

  • organizations that have or will receive funding through the COLTAF bar-sponsored pro bono block grant for the current fiscal year (see below) 

  • non-501(c) (3) entities unless the entity is considered a related entity to the Colorado Bar Foundation as classified by the IRS. Charitable organizations without 501(c) (3) status are encouraged to apply using a fiscal sponsor. Please contact [email protected] for guidance on fiscally sponsored applications. 

  • individual scholarships 

  • non-charitable programs and organizations, including law firms and other for-profit businesses 


COLTAF Pro Bono Grants 

Each year, the Colorado Bar Foundation provides funding to the COLTAF pro bono grants program. This funding is used to bolster the amount of available grants made to bar-sponsored pro bono organizations and goes directly to the selected grantees. With this community partnership, grantees receive funding benefits from both the Colorado Bar Foundation and COLTAF while only needing to complete a single application. Bar-sponsored pro bono organizations interested in funding are encouraged to apply directly to COLTAF. Organizations outside of this specific block grant remain eligible to apply to the Colorado Bar Foundation. 


Reporting Requirements 

All Colorado Bar Foundation grant recipients are required to submit a report describing their use of grant funds, permit an annual site visit, and provide public acknowledgment of the award in a prominent manner including information about the Colorado Bar Foundation. The final report will be due upon re-application and is built directly into the application portal, and the module will become visible when the prior-year funding question is answered. If you wish to submit a final report but are not planning to re-apply for funds, please contact [email protected] for alternate arrangements. 


How to Apply 

Grant applications will be accepted from March 1 through May 24 at 11:59 p.m. MDT. Applicants are highly encouraged to submit their completed applications early. This will provide additional time to work with the Foundation Manager Elizabeth Akalin on any requested follow-up, clarification, or additions. Limited time will be allotted for follow-up requested by the Foundation Manager, but all such post-submission edits must be completed by May 31. If you do not receive a follow-up request from the Foundation Manager after submission, your application is complete. Late applications and late follow-up requests will not be accepted. 

We recommend that prospective grantees review the current Annual Report for detailed information on the average grant award size, funding priorities, and previous grantees. Please note that the Foundation Manager is unable to provide guidance on specific funding request amounts. We encourage applicants to apply for funds based upon the needs of their individual programming and the general range indicated in the Annual Report. 

For more information about the Foundation’s grant process, please contact Elizabeth Akalin at [email protected] or (303) 824-5329.