A primary activity of the Institute is to award Coleman Institute Graduate Student Fellowships. Many of these fellowships are tied to federally funded research grants and are awarded as a leveraging match to augment competitive faculty proposals. Dozens of graduate students have been supported by the Coleman Institute through the matching program and Coleman Graduate Fellows are often named as part of a capacity-building commitment.

One key example of this approach is the focused effort to provide critical funding for graduate fellowships to support the establishment of the PhD program in Geropsychology at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) and to ensure its continuing success through an initiative in Aging and Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities. Another example of such funding has been a matching commitment made to the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center at the School of Medicine, Anschutz Medical Campus. Several Coleman Institute Graduate Student Fellows have completed their programs and earned PhD degrees, with others still in various stages of completion.

The Institute currently supports three Coleman Institute Graduate Student Fellows who work directly with the Institute on various projects such as the Coleman Institute Annual Conferences and Pre-Conference Workshops and the State of the States in Developmental Disabilities Project. The Institute's Coleman Fellows are: Jeffery Hoehl and Jonathon Keeney.

Jeffery Hoehl is a doctoral student in computer science at the University of Colorado at Boulder and a Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities graduate fellow. His current research is focused on inclusive design and understanding how incorporating special needs into the design of software can improve the usability and usefulness of web applications for all users. He has previously worked in industry developing customizable and easily expandable web solutions for Department of Defense and federal government clients, military family support organizations, wireless PDA-based point-of-sale systems for fast-paced hospitality environments, and document control systems for the FDA-regulated biotech industry.

Jonathon Keeney graduated from the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado with an honors degree in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology. While pursuing his bachelor’s degree, he studied gene regulatory networks in the African Clawed Frog, Xenopus laevis, under Dr. Michael Klymkowsky. After graduation, he moved to Atlanta, where he worked for Cytogenetics Specialists Inc. There, he used fluorescent, molecular probes to diagnose blood-borne cancers in patient samples sent in from hospitals around the country. Mr. Keeney decided to pursue a career in research and he returned to the University of Colorado, where he worked for Dr. Min Han, studying new genes involved in lipid maintenance in the roundworm, Caenorhabditis elegans. In 2008, he became a graduate student in the Neuroscience Program at the University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical Campus, in Aurora, Colorado, where he is currently a Coleman Fellow. As a graduate student in Jim Sikela’s lab, he studies DUF1220, a novel protein domain that has greatly increased in number in the human lineage. Humans have the highest copy number of these domains, and within humans the number of DUF1220 domains is linked to several cognitive diseases, including microcephaly, macrocephaly, autism, schizophrenia, neuroblastoma, and mental retardation. Mr. Keeney’s research investigates the cellular function of these domains in human cell cultures and in mice that have been transgenically modified to include more copies of DUF1220 domains, hoping to gain insight into the role they may be playing in disease.

In addition to awards for graduate studies, the Institute provides support for Coleman Institute Postdoctoral Fellowships and Coleman Institute Faculty Fellowships in strategic areas of research and development. The Coleman Institute provides contingent, matching funds for graduate fellowships associated with federal research grant applications related to cognitive disability and technology. Applicants must be members of the University of Colorado faculty. The funds are used to support students pursuing an advanced degree at the University of Colorado. Financial commitments by the Coleman Institute for graduate fellowships are contingent on the CU investigator's grant being funded by the federal government.

The Coleman Institute also has a Scientist in Residence Program focused on special technology-related initiatives.