Request for Proposals: More than $5 Million Available for Civil Legal Aid in the District of Columbia

The DC Bar Foundation (DCBF) is currently accepting applications from nonprofit organizations, located in the District, requesting funding for civil legal aid projects and general support. There is more than $4.5 million available for project-based funding through the Access to Justice (ATJ) Grants Program, and $600,000 available for general support funding through the Private Grants Program.

Funded by a grant from the District of Columbia Office of Victim Services Justice Grants, the ATJ Grants Program funds projects in three categories: (a) underserved areas; (b) housing-related matters; and (c) a shared legal interpreter bank. The Private Grants Program is funded by the support of firms and individuals, as well as the interest accrued on eligible client funds held in trust by attorneys in DC as part of the Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts program.

The instructions, guidelines, and applications for the 2018 grant programs are available online, under the respective subpage here: https://dcbarfoundation.org/grants/. DCBF will hold an information session for all interested applicants from 10:30 am to 12:00 pm on Thursday, August 24, 2017. Please email grants@dcbarfoundation.org to RSVP for the information session.

Applications are due online by 3:00 pm on Thursday, September 28, 2017. Incomplete and late applications will not be accepted. Decisions will be announced mid-December 2017, and the grant year will begin January 1, 2018 and end December 31, 2018.

Contact Director of Programs Imoni Washington at washington@dcbarfoundation.org or 202-853-9023 for more information.

Over $900,000 Awarded to Prevent Foreclosures and Redevelop DC Communities

Washington, DC – The DC Bar Foundation announced the recipients of the third distribution of the Foreclosure Prevention and Community Redevelopment Legal Assistance Grants Program. A total of $939,000 was awarded to projects that will increase access to justice by:

  • Representing low-income and elderly residents in foreclosure cases at DC Superior Court;
  • Ensuring that affordable housing properties in DC transition to market rate in a way that avoids displacement of low-income DC tenants;
  • Combatting the causes of affordable housing loss due to significant rent increases, sale of properties, termination of government subsidies, and unsafe conditions; and,
  • Assisting tenant groups with the establishment and maintenance of their affordable housing limited equity cooperatives to prevent them from converting to market rate housing.

The Foundation has awarded over $2.2 million in the area of foreclosure prevention and community redevelopment in the past two years. Grantees are currently working with more than 16 affordable housing properties under redevelopment, primarily in Wards 1, 5, 7, and 8. Approximately 7,500 low-income DC residents have received free legal assistance and more than 80 foreclosures have been prevented so far. With the influx of an additional $939,000 over the next three years, the Foundation will help thousands more low-income DC residents and prevent hundreds more foreclosures.

These grants were funded by a 2014 settlement on mortgage-related litigation between the U.S. Department of Justice and Bank of America Corporation. The settlement provided that every Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program receive funds for legal aid organizations in its jurisdiction for foreclosure prevention legal assistance and community redevelopment legal assistance. IOLTA exists in every state, as well as the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands. The DC Bar Foundation is the administrator of the DC IOLTA program.

The complete list of grantees and projects is below and available on the DC Bar Foundation’s website (https://dcbarfoundation.org/grants/our-grantees/).

The DC Bar Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization established in 1977, is the largest funder of civil legal services in the District. The Foundation’s mission is to fund, support, and improve legal representation of the poor, vulnerable, and otherwise disadvantaged in the District of Columbia, and it is committed to the vision that residents of the District have equal access to justice, regardless of income. The Foundation provides grants, training, and technical assistance to local non-profit legal services organizations and awards loans to DC poverty lawyers to help with their educational debts.

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THE RECIPIENTS OF THE THIRD ROUND OF FORECLOSURE
PREVENTION AND COMMUNITY REDEVELOPMENT GRANTS

 

FORECLOSURE PREVENTION LEGAL ASSISTANCE PROJECTS

LAS Foreclosure Prevention Project ($200,000)

Legal Aid Society of DC provides same-day representation to low-income DC residents in foreclosure cases at DC Superior Court. Their attorneys are present in court every week for the call of the judicial foreclosure calendar to provide information and legal assistance to homeowners facing foreclosure.

LCE Foreclosure Prevention Project ($224,000)

Legal Counsel for the Elderly’s (LCE) Foreclosure Prevention Project attorneys staff the judicial foreclosure calendar at DC Superior Court every week. LCE attorneys provide information, legal assistance and full representation to low-income DC homeowners facing foreclosure, with a particular focus on elderly homeowners.

 

COMMUNITY REDEVELOPMENT LEGAL ASSISTANCE PROJECTS

Affordable Housing Initiative ($150,000)

Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless represents tenant associations through the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act and zoning processes in order to preserve affordable housing and ensure that the zoning process leads to maximum number of truly affordable units for low-income residents. The attorneys also represent individual tenants in housing conditions-related cases.

Community Preservation Project ($215,000)

Through their Community Preservation Project, Bread for the City and Legal Aid Society of DC combat the causes of affordable housing loss due to significant rent increases, termination of government subsidies, sale of properties, conversion to condominiums, and unsafe conditions. The two organizations are able to work in tandem with one property: while one organization represents the property’s tenant association, the other organization represents individual tenants in other landlord-tenant issues such as housing conditions and wrongful evictions.

Housing Cooperative Preservation Initiative ($150,000)

Through its Housing Cooperative Preservation Initiative Project, Neighborhood Legal Services Program preserves tenant-owned limited equity cooperatives (LECs). The project’s attorneys assist tenant groups develop and maintain their LEC’s administrative infrastructure and governance, advise on regulatory compliance, and provide on-going education and legal advice to LEC board of directors. The project’s goal is to prevent problems that may cause these affordable housing cooperatives to convert to market rate housing.

YOUNG LAWYERS NETWORK LEADERSHIP COUNCIL CALLS FOR APPLICATIONS

Washington, DC – The Young Lawyers Network Leadership Council (YLN LC) offers younger attorneys an opportunity to further the goal of access to justice in our community by working with the DC Bar Foundation—the leading private funder of civil legal aid for the District’s poor and underserved. Members of the YLN LC serve as ambassadors who promote the Foundation’s mission and programs by engaging in regular meetings, grantee site visits, and quarterly networking dinners. The group is also actively involved in the organization’s fundraising efforts, through hosting an annual event that provides critical support to low-income DC residents in need of legal representation.

The DC Bar Foundation will add several new Young Lawyers Network Leadership Council members for a two-year term expiring September 30, 2019. Applications are due by 5:00 p.m. on August 8, 2017.

To qualify for consideration, individuals must be members of the District of Columbia Bar in good standing, under the age of 40 at the start of their term, either live or work in the District of Columbia, and commit to carrying out the responsibilities of the YLN LC. Staff of LRAP-eligible employers, or of organizations eligible to receive funding from the DC Bar Foundation, are ineligible for membership.

Interested applicants should submit a completed application form, résumé, letter of interest, and up to two letters of support that speak to their commitment to advance the District’s civil legal services network. Please send all materials to David Stone, Development Officer, at stone@dcbarfoundation.org. It is also important to include “Young Lawyers Network Leadership Council, [Your Full Name]” in the subject line of the email. Additional information about the YLN LC is available on the Foundation’s website at www.dcbarfoundation.org.

Click here to download application materials.

The DC Bar Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization established in 1977, is the largest funder of civil legal aid in the District of Columbia. Its mission is to fund, support, and improve legal representation of the poor, vulnerable, and otherwise disadvantaged in DC, and is committed to the vision that residents have equal access to justice, regardless of income. The Foundation provides grants and training and technical assistance to local nonprofit legal services organizations and awards loans to public interest attorneys to help with their educational debt.

More than $4.5 Million Awarded to Increase Access to Justice in the District of Columbia

Washington, DC – The DC Bar Foundation announced the 2017 recipients of the Access to Justice (ATJ) Grants Program, which awards grants to DC-based legal aid organizations that provide free legal help to low-income DC residents. A total of $4,552,000 was awarded to 33 projects throughout the District.

“The DC Bar Foundation is proud to be a community partner in the pursuit of access to justice for the citizens of the District of Columbia. Whether an individual needs help recovering wages or assistance with a wrongful eviction, our grants help to ensure that the income one earns does not dictate the outcome of a civil legal issue,” stated Vonya McCann, Senior Vice President Government Affairs at Sprint Corporation. Ms. McCann is a member of the DC Bar Foundation’s Board of Directors and Chair of the Grants and Technical Assistance Committee.

Funded by a grant from the District of Columbia Office of Victim Services Justice Grants, the ATJ Grants Program funds projects in three categories: (a) underserved areas; (b) housing-related matters; and (c) a shared legal interpreter bank. DCBF awarded 28 grants in the underserved areas category, totaling $3,083,000; four grants in the housing-related matters category, totaling $1,149,500; and one $319,500 grant to a shared legal interpreter bank.

Now in its tenth year, the ATJ Grants Program has been instrumental in increasing access to justice for low-income DC residents, in every ward of the District, by providing free legal assistance on array of civil legal issues. One of the ATJ Grants Program’s main goals is to place attorneys in the poorest and most underserved areas of the District in order to ensure that every resident, regardless of income, has access to legal assistance. Of the nearly 23,000 DC residents served through the grants program last year, 52 percent were residents of Wards 7 and 8, the two poorest wards of the city.

Through the ATJ Grants Program, the DC Bar Foundation also seeks to increase the availability of critical legal assistance for legal matters that create significant challenges in the lives of low-income DC residents. For example, one new project will assist low-income residents of Wards 1 and 7 who are suffering from debt collection practices that may have disastrous consequences on their employment, housing and financial stability. Another new project will add more lawyers in the effort to preserve affordable housing in diverse communities in DC.

The complete list of 2017 ATJ Grants Program grantees and projects is attached and available on the DC Bar Foundation’s website (https://dcbarfoundation.org/grants/our-grantees/).

The DC Bar Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization established in 1977, is the largest funder of civil legal services in the District. The Foundation’s mission is to fund, support, and improve legal representation of the poor, vulnerable, and otherwise disadvantaged in the District of Columbia, and it is committed to the vision that residents of the District have equal access to justice, regardless of income. The Foundation provides grants, training, and technical assistance to local non-profit legal services organizations and awards loans to DC poverty lawyers to help with their educational debts.

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Rochanda Hiligh-Thomas of Advocates for Justice and Education to Receive Annual Scoutt Prize

Washington, DC – The District of Columbia Bar Foundation (DCBF) has selected Rochanda Hiligh-Thomas as the recipient of the 2017 Jerrold Scoutt Prize. Ms. Hiligh-Thomas is the Interim Executive Director at Advocates for Justice and Education (AJE).

The Scoutt Prize is awarded annually to an attorney who has worked for a significant portion of his or her career at a nonprofit organization providing direct, hands-on legal services to poor or disadvantaged persons in the District of Columbia, has demonstrated compassionate concern for his or her clients, and has exhibited a high degree of skill on their behalf.

During her tenure as Legal Services Director at AJE, Ms. Hiligh-Thomas worked to bring justice and education to low-income clients. In his nomination, Timothy Riveria, a former staff attorney with AJE, said of Rochanda: “Since the start of her career, Rochanda’s service to DC has led to the preservation of educational opportunities for thousands of children.” Mr. Riveria also referred to Ms. Hiligh-Thomas as “a pillar of the public interest community and a pioneer in education law in DC.”

Ms. Hiligh-Thomas has worked in DC’s legal aid community for over 20 years. Prior to her 12 years with AJE, Ms. Hiligh-Thomas worked with Neighborhood Legal Services Program for eight years, serving as Assistant Director of Legal Operations from 2002 to 2004. She is a graduate of Tuskegee University and the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law.

The Scoutt Prize, endowed by the Washington, DC firm of Zuckert, Scoutt, & Rasenberger LLP, is named in honor of Jerrold Scoutt, Jr., a founding partner of the firm, in recognition of Mr. Scoutt’s and the firm’s long-term support of legal services. The DC Bar Foundation’s Scoutt Prize Committee is chaired by DCBF Advisory Committee member Seth A. Rosenthal of Venable LLP. The DC Bar Foundation will present the 2017 Jerrold Scoutt Prize during the DC Bar’s Judicial Reception on Friday, April 7, 2017.

The DC Bar Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization established in 1977, is the largest funder of civil legal services in the District. The Foundation’s mission is to fund, support, and improve legal representation of the poor, vulnerable, and otherwise disadvantaged in the District of Columbia, and it is committed to the vision that residents of the District have equal access to justice, regardless of income. The Foundation provides grants, training, and technical assistance to local non-profit legal services organizations and awards loans to DC poverty lawyers to help with their educational debts.

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DC Bar Foundation Seeks Nominations for 2017 Scoutt Prize

WASHINGTON, DC – The DC Bar Foundation is seeking nominations for the 2017 Jerrold Scoutt Prize, which is awarded annually to an exceptional legal services attorney in the District of Columbia. Nominations will be accepted until November 11, 2016.

The Scoutt Prize recognizes outstanding lawyers who work full time, or have spent much of their careers working full time, at DC nonprofits that provide direct, hands-on legal services to the poor or disadvantaged in our community. We encourage you to nominate attorneys who have not only demonstrated a high degree of skill in representing their clients, but who have also demonstrated a high degree of compassion.

Zuckert, Scoutt & Rasenberger LLP established the Scoutt Prize in 1993 in honor of founding partner Jerrold Scoutt Jr. The firm continues to provide an award of $2,500 annually, and since its creation, 27 outstanding public interest attorneys have been recognized. In 2016, Jennifer L. Berger, a Supervisory Attorney at Legal Counsel for the Elderly, was honored for her exceptional work and dedication to community advocacy.

The 2017 Scoutt Prize will be presented during the DC Bar Judicial Reception on Friday, April 7, 2017.

How to submit your nomination:

Nominations must include the nominee’s curriculum vitae. Supporting materials, like articles of interest or letters of support, are highly encouraged.

Please send nominations and supporting materials by 5:00 p.m. on November 11, 2016 to: info@dcbarfoundation.org.

About the DC Bar Foundation: For DC residents in poverty, we make strategic investments to strengthen and expand our civil legal aid network, addressing critical needs and improving our community. As the largest funder of civil legal aid in the District, we are a steadfast community partner, committed to protecting access to justice in life’s most pivotal moments.

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DCBF to Participate in the 2016 Combined Federal Campaign (Designation Code: 87057)

CFC NCA Logo

         Designation Code: 87507

The DC Bar Foundation will proudly participate in the 2016 Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), which is scheduled to run from September 1st to December 15th. The CFC is the official workplace giving campaign of the federal government. Its mission is to promote and support philanthropy among federal employees and give them the opportunity to improve the quality of life for all.
We hope that you will include the DC Bar Foundation in your annual giving plans. Your support makes access to justice possible for District residents in desperate need of legal representation. Be sure to use our designation code 87057 so your donation can be counted.

For more information about the CFC and how to make a gift, click here. To learn more about the Foundation’s participation in the program, please contact David Stone, Development Officer, at stone@dcbarfoundation.org or (202) 853-9025.

DC Bar Foundation Awards $950,000 to Prevent Foreclosures and Redevelop Communities

WASHINGTON, DC — The DC Bar Foundation (DCBF) awarded $950,000 in grants to five two-year projects focused on foreclosure prevention and community redevelopment. Lawyers funded by these grants will provide free civil legal assistance to DC residents living in poverty and who are facing situations including foreclosures, wrongful evictions, poor housing conditions, and expiring housing subsidies.

“From representing elderly individuals who are fighting to remain in their lifelong homes to assisting tenants in negotiating fair building purchase prices, the lawyers funded by our grants will ensure that the most vulnerable in our community have access to justice,” said Kirra L. Jarratt, Executive Director of the DC Bar Foundation. “We believe that over the next two years, this infusion of nearly one million dollars will strengthen DC’s communities, prevent hundreds of foreclosures, and help to preserve affordable housing units for those who are most in need.”

DC Bar Foundation Awards $900,000 in Grants to Expand Access to Justice

WASHINGTON, DC — Between July 2016 and December 2017, the DC Bar Foundation (DCBF) will award $900,000 to 22 organizations that provide direct civil legal assistance to underserved and low-income DC residents. These grants are funded by private donations to DCBF and by the DC Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program, which DCBF administers. The organizations receiving grants provide legal help in many areas of civil law, including housing, employment, domestic violence, immigration, education, health, and disability rights. (See a complete list of grantees below.)

“The IOLTA program and the generosity of our donors allows us to advance the ideal of justice for all, not just for those who can afford it. We are proud to support our grantees, who provide exceptional legal representation to DC residents facing challenges to their families, homes, health and livelihoods,” said Kirra L. Jarratt, Executive Director of the DC Bar Foundation. “Donors and IOLTA participants contribute to the important work of leveling the civil legal playing field here in DC, and we thank them for their ongoing support.”

Since 1978, DCBF has awarded nearly $25 million in private grants to DC civil legal services providers. To make these grants, the Foundation depends on the support of firms and individuals, as well as the interest accrued on eligible client funds held in trust by attorneys in DC as part of the IOLTA program. DC’s IOLTA Program was created in 1985 by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, and the program became mandatory in 2010. All attorneys barred in the District must place eligible client funds—those that are nominal in amount or will be held for only a short period of time—in a DC IOLTA account offered by an approved financial institution. The interest generated on these accounts is pooled to help provide civil legal aid in DC.