The DC Bar Foundation is gearing up to award more than $5 million in grants this December, to increase access to justice for DC’s most under-served communities. As the stewards of public funding, private contributions, and interest from certain trust accounts, we pride ourselves in the integrity of our grant-making and our commitment to addressing the most pressing civil legal needs of DC’s vulnerable residents.
Our goal in awarding grants is to close the access to justice gap in DC, where 90 percent of civil legal needs go unmet. We have high standards for the organizations that we fund, ensuring low-income DC residents have access to quality legal services, free of charge. Our grantees have systems in place that align with widely accepted industry standards for promoting quality, efficiency, and effectiveness in the delivery of civil legal aid. These standards guarantee that we fund organizations that properly supervise and assess their lawyers, increase services by involving pro bono attorneys, engage and collaborate with stakeholders, and have a high likelihood of sustainability.
In an effort to close the access to justice gap in DC, we fund projects that serve a significant number of low-income DC residents and make legal services more accessible to these residents. We prioritize projects that conduct outreach and legal education trainings for the community, as well as those that avoid duplication of services being provided in the District. Over the next three months, we will assess proposals on the basis of these standards and priorities. We look forward to see how low-income DC residents and our community will benefit from these funds. We are reminded that this would not be possible without the generosity of our leaders, volunteers, and donors.