q Denver Immigrant Legal Services Fund (DILSF) - Denver Foundation

Denver Immigrant Legal Services Fund (DILSF)

Increasing legal services for Denver’s immigrant community

The Denver Foundation is pleased to invite qualified nonprofits to apply for funding from the Denver Immigrant Legal Services Fund. The fund is managed by The Denver Foundation in partnership with a community advisory board composed of representatives from the Denver Mayor’s Office, Denver City Council, Colorado Lawyers Committee, immigrant rights groups, and The Denver Foundation. The purpose of the fund is to increase legal services to Denver’s immigrant community by providing qualified nonprofit organizations with grants to:

  1. Offer direct legal representation to immigrants in detention and/or subject to removal proceedings.
  2. Provide affirmative relief to individuals seeking help with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and various visa programs.
  3. Support capacity building or other innovative projects to help organizations increase the pool of pro-bono or low-bono immigration attorneys available to represent immigrants.
  4. Funding to assist in the course of representation, including legal resources and/or scholarships to pay for filing and other representation-related application fees.


  • Your organization must be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization or have a 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor and be in good standing with the IRS and the State of Colorado.
  • Your organization must demonstrate knowledge of the Denver immigrant community, including populations that are most vulnerable to immigration enforcement action (e.g., arrest, detention, and removal).
  • Your organization must have strong working relationships with a diverse network of community-based organizations, legal service providers, and faith-based institutions that have direct contact with immigrants and refugees.
  • Your organization must have previous experience and capacity to collaborate with key partners, such as legal services providers, law firms, bar associations, and private attorneys, to promote greater access to legal services.
  • Your organization must meet the requirements for the different categories below, depending on which category you are applying to.

Funds may only be used to support individuals who meet the following criteria:

  • Are residents of the City and County of Denver (a “resident” is an individual living in the State of Colorado who can verify his or her presence in the City and County of Denver for at least 60 days).
  • Have a household income that does not exceed 200% of the federal poverty guidelines.
  • Present with viable claims, need the advice of counsel, or are offered removal defense representation without an initial screening based on eligibility for relief. Services can also be offered to individuals for affirmative relief or defense from removal.
  • Individuals subject to actual or potential immigration removal proceedings; have been arrested or detained by immigration officials; have a final order of removal; and/or are seeking status-related benefits such as work authorization.
    • “Subject to potential immigration removal proceedings” is broadly interpreted to include immigrants who are not in active removal proceedings but could be removed based on their immigration status (including but not limited to DACA or DREAM Act-related relief, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, asylum, U visas, T visas, Violence Against Women Act, naturalization, and individuals eligible or facing the loss of Temporary Protected Status or other discretional status.

Grant awards given in previous years are no guarantee of future grant awards.

Additional information

The review process is expected to take place within a 4-6 week period. The Denver Foundation will initially screen all proposals for completeness and eligibility. Incomplete applications will not be considered. The Denver Foundation staff may contact applicants to request additional information as needed. The Denver Immigrant Legal Services Advisory Board will recommend final selections.

A short mid-year report is due six months after the award. A final report is due one year after the award. Reports will require a high degree of detail in tracking and documenting clients.

The Denver Immigrant Legal Services Fund Advisory Board established the following funding priorities.

Denver Immigrant Legal Services Fund Funding Priorities




Removal defense for individuals who are detained at the Aurora Detention Facility and those released from the facility who have cases pending in Denver Immigration Court.

Defense includes high-quality representation at all stages of immigration court proceedings, including master calendar hearings and bond hearings, detained removal, non-detained removal after release, Board and Immigrations Appeals (BIA), remands from the BIA, and state court proceedings related to immigration relief, transfer of venue proceedings for transfer to Denver Immigration Court, collateral proceedings incident to removal defense, and any costs associated with defense.


Affirmative relief and removal defense for and people not in detention.

Affirmative relief includes legal screening, consultation, and representation for individuals seeking assistance with DACA, Special Immigrant Juvenile (SJIS), asylum, U visas, and T visas, Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) protections, family and labor petitions, and naturalization. Support can also be used for consultations for individuals whose Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is being terminated to determine if they are eligible for a different type of relief, or, to defend TPS revocation in Immigration Court.


Building capacity for direct legal representation.

– Expanding the pool of pro-bono immigration attorneys
– Expanding the pool of “low-bono” immigration attorneys
– The use of law school clinics and law students to provide assistance to immigrants
– Other innovative projects that increase legal representation for immigrants


Filing Fees, Legal Fees.

Funding to assist in the course of representation, including legal resources and/or scholarships to help with filing and other representation-related application fees. Funding requested to be utilized for legal resources, scholarships for legal fees, or other application fees must be proportionate to the cases proposed to be represented. For example, 10 cases = $500 per case for interpretation, filing fees, etc.


  • Demonstrate a strong record of providing high-quality legal representation to immigrants facing removal. 
  • Have licensed attorneys with immigration law expertise on staff or under contract who will directly provide the services described in this application. Demonstrate that all professionals (attorneys, BIA-accredited representatives, social workers, etc.) involved in providing services under this contract have the appropriate professional licenses and are in good standing professionally.
  • Demonstrate the ability to consult with and represent clients in the Aurora Detention Center.


  • Applicants must demonstrate a history of working with the prioritized populations. Organizations with prior experience providing similar services will be given priority.

About the donor

In 2018, The Denver Foundations established the Denver Immigrant Legal Services Fund as a special project fund in partnership with the City and County of Denver. This is following when Mayor Michael B. Hancock signed Executive Order 142, “Standing with Immigrants and Refugees: A Safe and Welcoming City for all of Denver’s People,” on August 31, 2017. The goal of the executive order was to “ensure all community members the rights and liberties that are guaranteed to them by the constitutions of the United States of America and the State of Colorado.” The order directed the creation of a legal services fund to achieve this goal.