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2018-2019 Access to Justice (ATJ) Housing Grants Program

Grants to Washington, DC Nonprofits to Provide Legal
Services to Underserved Groups for Housing-Related Projects

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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DC Bar Foundation (DCBF)

Conf. Date:


Deadline Date:

04/02/18 3:00 PM


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Grants to Washington, DC nonprofit organizations that provide civil legal services to underserved and low-income populations for projects addressing housing-related issues. Housing-related matters encompass a broad range of issues, such as home ownership tenancies, affordable housing, housing conditions, and homelessness.

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


DCBF defines the following terms for the purpose of determining eligibility for the ATJ Grants Program:

1. “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.

2. “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.

3. “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.

4. “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.

5. “Housing-related matters” is defined to include projects to address a broad range of issues associated with shelter, including tenancies, home ownership, homelessness, housing affordability, and housing conditions.

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, address housing- related matters, or support a shared legal services interpreter bank.*

*For this grant application due on April 2, 2018, the Foundation will only consider requests for housing-related matters. The application for underserved areas and shared legal interpreter bank will be released in summer 2018.

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.

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 interpreter bank (for this grant application due on April 2, 2018, the Foundation will only fund proposals for housing-related matters).
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:

Organizations may apply for a six-month grant (July 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018), 12-month grant (January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019), or an 18-month grant (July 1, 2018 to December 31, 2019).

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.

Pre-proposal Conference:

An information session regarding 2018-2019 ATJ Housing Grants and Civil Legal Counsel Projects Program is scheduled for March 8, 2018.

RSVP is required. Please email the names, organization, titles, and email addresses of those attending by Tuesday, March 6 to register.

Pre-Application Information:

The application is due by 3:00 PM on Monday, April 2, 2018.

For this grant application due on April 2, 2018, the Foundation will only consider requests for housing-related matters. The application for underserved areas and shared legal interpreter bank will be released in summer 2018.

Timeline of Application Process:
-Thursday, February 1, 2018: Application released
-Thursday, March 8, 2018: Information session
-Monday, April 2, 2018: Application due by 3:00 PM
-April 17-20, 2018: Applicant interviews
-Mid-June 2018: Awards announced
-Friday, June 22, 2018: Revised budgets and performance measures due
-Friday, June 29, 2018: Signed grant agreements due
-Sunday, July 1, 2018: Grant year begins

Technical Assistance for Online System

Contact Information:

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

Application Link (use Internet Explorer or Safari):

To attend the March 8 information session, RSVP to:

Christina Lynch, Programs Officer
(202) 853-9021

DC Bar Foundation
80 M Street SE, First Floor P
Washington, DC

P: 202-467-3750
F: 202-467-3753

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Washington, DC