Your Giving CP Header Image

The Kelley Family

Making a Way to Give

“Our father started the Kelley Family Foundation in 1996,” explained Barbara Kelley. “When he passed away, my brother Bruce (Kelley), sister Kathy (Huwaldt), and I worked hard to maintain the giving as he would have liked,” she added with a sigh. “But it was very difficult. We were working so hard at going through all the grant proposals that we really didn’t feel we were doing everything we could to be the best stewards of the foundation."

This was before the Kelleys sought assistance from The Denver Foundation.

Barbara recounts the advice of Lee Schlessman and Susan Duncan, encouraging her and her siblings to make an appointment with Foundation CEO David Miller. She says the longtime family friends and trustees of the Schlessman Family Foundation were always the ones whom she called with questions about philanthropy. “They really encouraged us to look at The Denver Foundation as a vehicle for our grantmaking,” she remembers.

It took a number of years for them to make that appointment with David. When they did, it was because they were inundated with paperwork. “We told David that we wanted all of our money to go to nonprofits, but we don’t have the time to do all the site visits ourselves," she stated. "David said The Denver Foundation could help us."

The creation of The Rollie R. Kelley Family Fund and the partnership with The Denver Foundation has far exceeded the family’s expectations. “We meet at the Foundation office each month and we always learn something new when we're there," she said. “Christiano and Justin from the Programs Department have given us invaluable advice on how to review potential grantee organizations. Rachel is great and goes through the proposals. She sends a letter to any that don’t match our focus areas. Lori has been so patient with us and Sarah makes great suggestions on nonprofits that fit our interests.”

Because Barbara, Bruce, and Kathy have diverse philanthropic interests and also wish to respect their father’s philanthropic intentions, they have found the need to limit the focus areas of their giving--something The Denver Foundation helped them do. The Kelleys focus primarily on at-risk youth, health, and education programs.

The Kelleys maintain their family foundation and utilize it only for a specific few organizations with which they have a longstanding history. The rest of their giving is accomplished through the donor-advised fund. “We feel we are better stewards of the money entrusted to us now.”

Read more family stories