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Washington, DC – The DC Bar Foundation awarded more than $6.7 million to 27 DC legal aid organizations providing free legal assistance to low-income DC residents in a wide array of civil legal issues in 2018.

“The funding we provide to these legal aid organizations is vital to ensuring justice for all DC residents, regardless of income,” stated Paul Smith, Board President of the DC Bar Foundation. “A startling 90% of legal needs in DC go unmet, and a lawyer can mean the difference between keeping families together and breaking families apart or having a roof over your head and being homeless.”

A majority of these funds provide legal assistance to DC residents living in the poorest and most underserved areas of the city, specifically Wards 5, 7, and 8. The funds maintain community-based offices, which make legal services more accessible to those living in those wards, as well as projects that are heavily supported by pro bono attorneys, multiplying funds through volunteers.

The Foundation’s grants provide critical support to projects and organizations working in a spectrum of civil legal issues, including immigration, domestic violence, and public benefits and consumer, housing, employment, family, and health and disability law. The Foundation is proud to support innovative projects such as medical-legal partnerships, a shared legal interpreter bank, and projects serving vulnerable populations, such as youth involved in the justice system and people with disabilities.

The $6.7 million is comprised of three funding streams: (1) $3.6 million from the Access to Justice (ATJ) Grants Program, established by the Council of the District of Columbia through the Access to Justice Act of 2007; (2) $2.5 million from the Civil Legal Counsel Projects Program, a new program for eviction defense projects created under the leadership of Councilmembers Kenyan McDuffie and Charles Allen by the Expanding Access to Justice Act of 2017; and (3) $600,000 from the Private Grants Program, which has provided over $26 million in general operating support to DC legal aid organizations since 1978.

The ATJ Grants Program and the Civil Legal Counsel Projects Program are funded by a grant from the Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants. The Private Grants Program is funded by private fundraising and revenue from the DC Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Account Program, which is administered by the Foundation. All attorneys barred in the District must place eligible client funds—those that are nominal in amount or will be held for only a short period of time—in a DC IOLTA account offered by an approved financial institution. The interest generated on these accounts is pooled to help fund civil legal aid in DC.

To view a full list of grantees, please visit

About the DC Bar Foundation: For DC residents in poverty, we make strategic investments to strengthen and expand our civil legal aid network, addressing critical needs and improving our community. As the largest funder of civil legal aid in the District, we are a steadfast community partner, committed to protecting access to justice in life’s most pivotal moments.


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