GRANTS

The DC Bar Foundation awards grants to DC-based 501(c)3 non-profit organizations that provide free civil legal aid to low-income DC residents. DCBF has three annual grant programs – General Support, Access to Justice, and Civil Legal Counsel Projects Program Grants.

GENERAL SUPPORT GRANTS:

  • Awarded annually since 1978

  • Source of funding: private contributions and IOLTA revenue

  • Application opens: August

  • Awards announced: mid-December

  • Grant year: January 1 to December 31

The General Support Grants Program, which began in 1978 when DCBF was founded, has provided over $30 million in critical operating support to DC legal service providers. Private grants provide unrestricted funds support to help cover overhead costs, such as rent and client record databases, which are not always covered by other grants these organizations receive. These grants are funded by private contributions and revenue received through the IOLTA program.

ACCESS TO JUSTICE GRANTS PROGRAM:

  • Awarded annually since 2007

  • Source of funding: public funding from a grant from the District

  • Application opens: August

  • Awards announced: mid-December

  • Grant year: January 1 to December 31

 

In 2007, DCBF began awarding grants under the Access to Justice Grants Program (ATJ Grants) when the Council of the District of Columbia designated DCBF as the administrator of these funds. ATJ Grants support organizations that provide legal assistance in three areas: (a) underserved areas in DC; (b) housing-related matters; and (c) to support a shared legal services interpreter bank. Since 2007, over $65 million has been awarded to provide critical legal assistance to DC’s poor and underserved.

 

CIVIL LEGAL COUNSEL PROJECTS PROGRAM:

  • Legislation passed in late June 2017

  • Source of funding: public funding from a grant from the District

  • Application opens: August

  • Awards announced: mid-December

  • Grant year: January 1 to December 31

The Civil Legal Counsel Projects Program was established by the Council of the District of Columbia through the Expanding Access to Justice Amendment Act of 2017. The legislation designates the DC Bar Foundation to administer this grant program. Since 2018, over $15 million has been awarded to DC legal aid organizations providing representation in eviction defense proceedings for low-income District residents.

COVID-19 EMERGENCY RESPONSE GRANTS:

In June of 2020, DCBF awarded over $100,000 in emergency response grants to help the District’s civil legal aid community adapt and respond to the emergent needs of DC workers and families who are most vulnerable to the health and economic repercussions of the current pandemic. In this initial round of emergency grants, the Foundation prioritized small nonprofit legal aid organizations that are working with communities of color who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

These grants were made possible through funding from the Foundation's COVID-19 Response Fund, which seeks to mitigate high-priority and short-term emergency civil legal aid needs of the most vulnerable residents in our community.