This week’s announcement of the 2017 recipients of the Access to Justice (ATJ) Grants Program marks ten years of the program. The ATJ Grants Program was established in 2007 for the purpose of placing attorneys in the poorest and most underserved areas of the District in order to ensure that DC residents, regardless of income, have access to legal assistance.
Since the program’s founding, the availability and accessibility of free legal assistance for low-income DC residents has greatly increased. With the $2.9 million appropriated for the ATJ Grants Program in 2007, the DC Bar Foundation funded 21 projects and placed 32 full-time equivalent attorneys in the community. Since then, the DC Bar Foundation has successfully stewarded close to $37 million in grants to DC legal aid organizations and increased the number of experienced, skilled attorneys helping DC residents by 63 percent.
In 2017, the DC Bar Foundation awarded $4,552,000 to 33 projects. Today, more than 22,000 low-income DC residents receive legal assistance through projects funded by the Initiative, and more than half of these residents live in Wards 7 and 8, the poorest wards of the city. The projects provide legal assistance on a variety of legal issues: from stolen wages and wrongful evictions to civil protection orders and record expungement. Legal aid is critical in leveling the playing field and ensuring that the nearly 110,000 DC residents living in poverty have an equal chance at justice.
Click here to learn more about the DC Bar Foundation’s 2017 Access to Justice Grantees.