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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:

08/23/19 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. For this funding round, applications will be accepted for projects that either support a shared legal services interpreter bank or address underserved areas and housing in the District. The purpose of this program is to increase the number of residents with access to legal assistance.

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.

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.

For a list of qualities of a strong proposal, see:

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 23, 2019, proposals will be funded only for underserved areas, housing, 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 will run from January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Qualified recipients must:
1. Be a not-for-profit DC corporation;
2. Have tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code;
3. Operate primarily within the District of Columbia;
4. Be located within the District of Columbia; and,
5. Have as a primary purpose the provision of civil legal services to low-income residents of DC. An organization meets the primary purpose test if the majority of its total organizational resources and/or legal services department or project are spent on the delivery of civil legal services to low-income District residents without charge.

“Civil legal services” must include the individual representation of District residents. It may also include the following:
a. The supervision of such representation;
b. Appellate advocacy on behalf of District residents; and,
c. Policy advocacy in the District that is associated with the representation of individual clients

“Low-income” is calculated by using the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) income limits that determine the eligibility for District residents for HUD’s assisted housing programs.

“Underserved” is defined as those residents of the District of Columbia who share a common neighborhood, geographic area, language, culture, ethnicity, religion, life situation, or lack of adequate and affordable access to legal services.

“District resident” is defined as any individual with a residential address in the District of Columbia. DCBF may accept an organization’s reasonable functional alternatives to this definition to the extent that DCBF determines such functional alternatives are consistent with the goal of increasing access to justice in the District for special populations, including but not limited to individuals in correctional facilities, individuals living in or fleeing from violence, and homeless individuals.

Pre-proposal Conference:

The 2020 Grants Information Session will be held on July 30, 2019 from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Sidley Austin LLP
1501 K Street, N.W.
Concourse Level C1-C2
Washington, DC 20005

RSVP here:

Pre-Application Information:

The application for the 2020 Access to Justice (ATJ) Grants Program under the categories of Underserved Areas, Housing-Related Matters, and Shared Legal Services Interpreter Bank is due August 23, 2019 at 12 p.m. EST.

There is an application for the category of underserved areas or housing, and a different application for the category of shared legal services interpreter bank.

- Monday, July 1, 2019: Application released
- Tuesday, July 30, 2019 : Information session regarding 2019 ATJ and Private funding
- Friday, August 23, 2019: Application due by 12:00 pm EST
- Week of September 23, 2019: Interviews for new applicants and new projects
- December 2019: Awards announced
- Friday, December 13, 2019: Revised project budgets (if applicable)
- Friday, December 20, 2019: Signed grant agreements due
- Monday, January 1, 2020: 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.

Apply online:

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

DC Bar Foundation
80 M Street SE, Suite 100
Washington, DC 20003
Tel. 202.467.3750
Fax. 202.467.3753

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Washington, DC