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2019 Access to Justice (ATJ) Grants Program - Underserved Areas and Shared Legal Services Interpreter Bank

Grants to Washington, DC Nonprofits to Provide
Free Legal Assistance to Low-Income Residents

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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DC Bar Foundation (DCBF)

Conf. Date:


Deadline Date:

08/24/18 12:00 PM EST


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Grants to Washington, DC nonprofit legal aid providers to provide free civil legal services to low-income residents. The purpose of this program is to increase the number of residents with access to legal assistance. For this funding round, applications will be accepted for projects that either support a shared legal services interpreter bank or address underserved areas in the District.

About the Foundation:

Since 1978, the DC Bar Foundation has funneled more than $64 million into DC’s legal aid network to ensure that every District resident, regardless of income, has access to justice. The Foundation makes strategic investments in legal aid providers and the critical issues facing District residents in order to strengthen and expand the civil legal aid network and improve the community. As the largest funder of civil legal aid in the District, the Foundation is a steadfast community partner, committed to protecting access to justice in life’s most pivotal moments.

In addition to the grant programs, the Foundation administers loan repayment assistance programs for attorneys working at DC legal aid organizations and provides training and technical assistance to these organizations.

Overview of the Access to Justice Grants Program:

The DC Bar Foundation (DCBF) is pleased to announce that it will award at least $3,400,000 to nonprofit legal aid providers located in the District of Columbia to fund civil legal services in the categories of underserved areas and shared legal services interpreter bank through the 2019 Access to Justice (ATJ) Grants Program.

Organizations may apply for funding for one project, multiple projects, and/or joint projects, by submitting one project per application.

Principles to Guide Allocation of Funds:

The primary purpose of the ATJ Grants Program is to fund civil legal services to low-income and underserved District residents. Thus, funding will be provided:

1. ONLY for free civil legal services;
2. ONLY for services to low-income District residents; and,
3. ONLY for projects that address underserved areas in the District or support a shared legal services interpreter bank.

The Foundation’s Standards for Funding:

1. Standards for Organizations

Funding will be provided to civil legal aid organizations that have systems in place that align with widely accepted industry standards for promoting quality, efficiency, and effectiveness in the delivery of civil legal aid, including methods for self-assessment to provide feedback regarding the extent to which those systems are achieving their desired purpose.

A strong proposal will demonstrate that the applying organization:
a. Seeks to identify and respond to the most pressing civil legal needs of the low- income people it serves;
b. Has systems in place to ensure appropriate supervision, training, and development of its staff, applies feedback obtained from stakeholders and clients to evaluate and improve organization effectiveness and quality;
c. Integrates pro bono attorneys and others to supplement and increase the effectiveness of its representation and other services;
d. Provides other services designed to increase accessibility of legal services to low-income DC residents, such as assistance with self-help strategies, legal information through its website or other channels, community legal education; and,
e. Engages with other important stakeholders working on behalf of or serving its targeted client population, such as the judiciary, government agencies, and social services agencies.

2. Standards for Projects:

Funding will be provided only to projects that measure and report to DCBF their performance against stated goals with respect to legal services to be delivered, outreach and training, pro bono development, and any other activities to be funded under the requested grant.

A strong proposal will demonstrate that the project:

a. Has ambitious yet realistic goals for delivering significant amounts of legal services, as measured by the volume and type of legal services to be provided, the number of DC residents to be assisted, the number of cases to be accepted, the DC wards from which the majority of clients are anticipated, and other measures.

b. Seeks to increase access to services to residents in underserved areas of the District, as measured by the percentage of the total proposed legal services that will be provided in areas containing the greatest concentrations of low-income residents.

c. Has high goals for providing significant amounts of outreach and training, as measured by the number of outreach efforts and/or trainings that will be conducted, the number of individuals to whom outreach will be conducted, the number of trainings to be held, the number of DC residents who will attend, the volume of materials distributed (literature, website accesses, etc.), and other relevant measures.

d. Seeks to increase engagement of pro bono attorneys and law firms in the provision of legal services to low-income DC residents, as measured by the number of pro bono attorneys recruited, the number of attorneys trained, growth in the total number of attorneys and firms participating, and other relevant measures.

e. Has adequate capacity for delivering the services that are proposed, as indicated by experience in providing services similar to those being proposed, related current work that will be supported or enhanced by the proposed services, and other factors.

f. Has a high likelihood of sustainability, taking into account such factors as potential funding sources beyond DCBF, a track record of successful fundraising, a longer-term service delivery strategy, and other factors.

The Foundation’s Priorities for Funding:

Additionally, in allocating available funding, the Foundation will give priority to proposals that seek to address the most pressing legal needs of the District’s low-income residents and make legal services accessible to this population.

Proposals that address one or more of the following criteria will be given priority (all other factors being equal):

1. Addresses underserved areas in the District, OR addresses housing-related matters, OR supports a shared legal services interpreter bank (for this grant application due on August 24, 2018, the Foundation will only fund proposals for underserved areas and shared legal services interpreter bank).
2. Is likely to expand the number of DC residents who are provided legal assistance.
3. Seeks to avoid duplication of services being provided in the District, in the same issue area, or to the same special population segments as those being proposed.
4. Is likely to make legal assistance more accessible to DC residents.
5. Is likely to expand pro bono participation by recruiting, training, and supervising law firm attorneys to help deliver free legal assistance to DC residents.
6. Is likely to leverage DCBF resources by applying them strategically to expand efforts by other service providers and/or provide services that could NOT potentially be supported by other funding sources.
7. Will test innovative approaches for achieving the above priorities.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 177289

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Term of Contract:

The grant year runs from January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Grants are made to nonprofit legal aid providers located in the District of Columbia.

Pre-proposal Conference:

A joint information session for organizations interested in submitting proposals for the 2019 ATJ Underserved Areas and Interpreter Bank Grants Program and/or the 2019 Private Grants Program will be held on Wednesday, July 25 from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm.

RSVPs are required. Please email the name(s), title(s), and email address(es) of individual(s) attending to the contact listed below by Monday, July 23 to register.

Pre-Application Information:

Applications are due by 12:00 pm EST on Friday, August 24, 2018. Awards will be announced in mid-December 2018.

For this grant application due on August 24, 2018, the Foundation will only consider requests for Underserved Areas and Shared Legal Services Interpreter Bank categories. The application for 2019 ATJ Housing-Related Matters was due April 2, 2018. The application for 2020 will open summer 2019.

-Thursday, July 5, 2018: Application released
-Wednesday, July 25, 2018: Information session regarding 2019 ATJ and Private funding
-Friday, August 24, 2018: Application due by 12:00 pm EST
-Week of September 24, 2018: Interviews for new applicants and new projects
-Mid-December 2018: Awards announced
-Friday, December 14, 2018: Revised project budgets and performance measures due
-Friday, December 21, 2018: Signed grant agreements due
-Monday, January 1, 2019: Grant year begins

Technical Assistance for Online Application Portal:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Underserved Areas Application:

Shared Legal Services Interpreter Bank Application:

If you have any questions regarding the ATJ and evaluation processes, please contact:


URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Washington, DC