In September 2019, the DC Bar Foundation committed to this visionary goal:

 To transform the civil legal aid network, working closely with all stakeholders, 
so District residents have a fair and equal legal experience. 

The Foundation seeks to realize this goal using the following five strategies.

quote marks

1. Engage all stakeholders in the work

The DC Bar Foundation will work with existing and identify new partners to support the civil legal aid network by providing data, identifying needs, sharing observations, serving as a sounding board, and developing solutions to meet the community civil legal aid needs.

Recent activity:

  • Convened the DC Legal Aid Transformations Network in June 2021, with 57 participants representing legal aid, social services, and governmental bodies.

  • Collaborated with the Greater Washington Community Foundation in July 2021 to co-convene the DC eviction prevention workgroup that grew out of the White House Summit on Eviction Prevention.

2. Identify the unmet civil legal needs

The civil legal aid needs of District residents are vast. DCBF will identify barriers to accessing services by those who need them most and support the development and launch of a coordinated intake and referral system to improve access to civil legal aid services. DCBF will also work with its stakeholders to use data generated by this system and engage the larger community to identify community priorities.

Recent activity:

  • Offered technical assistance and training in July 2021 to help grantees effectively capture client outcomes and relevant data to showcase the impact and strength of their work and identify gaps in service provision.

3. Infuse racial justice and equity in our work

DCBF will evolve its practices and culture to learn, reflect, unlearn, and change its practices to pursue justice. Initially, DCBF will study best practices to learn about racial justice and equity initiatives. DCBF will also explore local partnerships where there are opportunities to align efforts to develop a plan to integrate racial justice and equity initiatives.

Recent activity:

  • Created an internal Racial Equity Work Group in January 2021 to review the Foundation’s policies, practices, and core values and develop a Racial Equity Roadmap to align the Foundation’s equity priorities with its Strategic Framework.

  • Conducted a grantee diversity survey in April 2021 to collect demographic data on staff, leadership, and board composition.

4. Fund with intention

DCBF will identify and articulate what it wants to achieve through its grantmaking. By working with its stakeholders and piloting a few interventions that address the most significant needs, DCBF will better understand effective strategies and make more strategic grantmaking decisions. DCBF will adapt its investments as additional data and feedback is gathered, and experience dictates what can and should be scaled.

Recent activity:

  • Held two community listening sessions in July and August 2021 to gather community priorities and involve a subset of the participants in a participatory grantmaking project that supports needs identified during the listening sessions.

5. Demonstrate that people who need services are getting them

By integrating evaluation into every aspect of its work, DCBF will position itself to describe how it is changing and improving the lives of District residents and identify areas in need of improvement. DCBF will generate data on program delivery, measure the effectiveness of services, study outcomes, determine the level of impact, and share those findings with our partners and stakeholders.

Recent activity:

  • Implemented a client feedback survey in July 2021 to measure the usability and impact of the shared intake and referral system launched by the Landlord-Tenant Legal Assistance Network in June 2020.