The DC Bar Foundation is the leading funder of civil legal aid in the District of Columbia. We are committed to the vision that residents of the District have equal access to justice, regardless of income. Our mission is to fund, support, and improve legal representation of people who are financially disenfranchised or who are otherwise underserved in the District of Columbia.
The Bar Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, was established in 1977 to provide a vehicle for lawyers and law firms to contribute to legal services organizations in the District of Columbia. In 1985, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals established the District’s IOLTA program, which the Foundation administers. In 2006, the Council of the District of Columbia appropriated funds for civil legal services grants and a poverty lawyer loan repayment assistance program, designating the DC Bar Foundation as administrator.
The Bar Foundation awards grants to the District’s legal services organizations that provide free civil legal services to low-income and underserved people in the District. Since its inception, the Foundation has awarded more than $123 million in grants.
You can learn more about the Foundation by reading our 2021 Annual Report.
Our work is guided by the following Core Values:
Equitable Justice. The impact of race, class, and gender on systemic injustice is interconnected. We seek equitable justice, which is concerned with transforming systems and must be inclusive and accessible to everyone regardless of race, wealth, gender, or power. It extends beyond the law into other systems and resources.
Community-Centric. We are guided by the voices of those most impacted by our decisions. We are working to ensure the civil legal aid system is accountable and responsive to DC's communities most affected by systemic injustice.
Collaboration and Partnership. Our work is most effective when we collaborate with all stakeholders. We will always ask the questions: Who else should be at this table? Are all voices at the table being heard?
Mutual Trust and Respect. Respecting others' capacities and contributions will foster a community where ideas are heard and problems are solved. We seek and offer mutual trust and respect so that greater progress is made toward our mission of equitable justice.
We Stand Against Anti-Black Racism. We must work within ourselves, our networks, and our institutions to challenge anti-Black racism with each decision we make. We must actively change behaviors, policies, and procedures that perpetuate anti-Black racism. Understanding and addressing anti-Black racism will help reveal solutions to eradicate the manifestation of all forms of bias, racism, and hate.