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.  Both established programs as well as 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

During 2022, the Foundation awarded $202,332 to 42 grantees throughout Colorado.  The average grant was $4,817! In 2022 the Foundation received a generous estate gift from Ben Aisenberg. We are happy to report these funds will become available on a rolling basis over the next four years, with total available grant funds increasing moderately each year during this time. View our recent grants page here.

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. In an effort to increase efficiencies 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

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. For more information on the final report, contact [email protected].

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 ea[email protected] for guidance on fiscally sponsored applications.
  • individual scholarships
  • non-charitable programs and organizations


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 by June 30. Organizations outside of this specific block grant remain eligible to apply to the Colorado Bar Foundation. For a list of organizations included in this block grant, please note the COLTAF Partnership Pro Bono Grantees section located at the bottom of our recent grantees listing.


How to Apply

The application period for 2023 has concluded, and the 2024 application cycle will be announced in the spring of that year. We recommend that prospective applicants review the current Annual Report for detailed information on the average grant award size, funding priorities, and previous grantees. We further recommend that organizations submit their applications early. This will provide additional opportunities for processing any needed corrections or requests for additional information.

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