$10.5 Million in New Grant Awards Will Provide Legal Aid in 2020

In a record year for grantmaking, the DC Bar Foundation has awarded over $10.5 million in grants to 33 DC legal aid organizations providing free legal assistance to thousands of low-income DC residents.

Our 2020 grant portfolio includes:

Keeping families in their homes: $5.8 million

Protecting people in the marketplace: $2.6 million

Amplifying the voice of those in need: $2.1 million

The majority of funds will help our neighbors in Wards 5, 7, and 8 where a concentration of families of four live on an annual income of less than $25,000. These grants will maintain court-based and community-based offices, both of which serve as critical points of access for low-income DC residents.

We are also proud to support a range of innovative projects including representation for detained immigrants at bond hearings, assistance for seniors navigating the probate process to ensure their estate is properly documented, and a coordinated intake and referral network for eviction defense and housing preservation.

These strategic investments, made possible by your support, go directly into the community. They make a tangible difference in the lives of our neighbors in DC. This year’s increased grant funding will create more accessible services in the community and a fairer legal experience for District residents. For a complete list of our 2020 grantees, please visit our website.

Letter From the CEO

In 2019, our most vulnerable neighbors received more of the skilled, accessible, life-changing legal aid they needed – because of your support.

I am grateful for what we have achieved this year, in solidarity and partnership with you.
 
We are growing an ever-stronger local legal aid community. In tough times for many individuals and families who call the District home, we are addressing a substantial and ever-growing need. Our work helps ensure access to legal services for every District resident, regardless of ability to pay.

Three victories for our low-income neighbors this year were made possible by your support:

  • Awarding a record amount of grants. This will expand accessible services in our community and create a fairer legal experience for every resident.

    For 2020, we have announced $10.5 million in grants to 33 DC legal aid organizations that provide free services to thousands of residents in need. Our funding amplifies and mobilizes these organizations’ collective impact in a way none could achieve on their own.

  • Launching an evaluation of our Civil Legal Counsel Projects Program (CLCPP). This is the Foundation’s first-ever outcomes-based evaluation, which will allow us to better articulate our impact in DC. It will also provide us with data to recommend program changes to both the grantees, and to the DC City Council regarding how and what we can fund, so we can continue to channel our support to where it is needed the most. While this evaluation focuses on our eviction defense funding, the lessons we learn will inform all of our grantmaking.

  • Developing a new strategic plan. We have adopted a bold new guidepost: “To transform the civil legal aid network, working closely with all stakeholders, so District residents have a fair and equal legal experience.”

    This is a major shift from our previous strategic plan goals, which focused on financial growth, program efficiency, and becoming a model nonprofit. . We are now moving toward an externally-focused goal that calls for transforming the legal aid network through increased engagement, greater collaboration, and measuring impact and outcomes.

Though we made critical strides together in 2019, we must continue to address the need in our community. We have much work ahead, to achieve equal access to justice for every District resident.

Thank you for standing with us this year, for our neighbors who depend on a thriving legal aid network in times of dire need. Together we can make 2020 a transformative year for justice and equality in the District.

With gratitude,

Kirra L. Jarratt
Chief Executive Officer

Letter From the CEO

Your support for DC Bar Foundation makes a life-changing difference for neighbors in need of legal aid. And during this season, I feel especially thankful for it. 

When I hear from one of you, I’m reminded how much our work together means to each of us individually and to our community collectively – all year long.

These are the words of Ellen Jakovic:

“When I give to the DC Bar Foundation, I know that my donation will help provide vital legal services to low-income residents in our community – and also training and student loan repayment assistance to legal aid attorneys in the District.

Everyone, regardless of income, deserves access to effective legal assistance. The DC Bar Foundation is working to make this goal a reality.

Ellen is a longtime donor to DCBF. She has also given volunteer service as a Board member since 2014, has served on and led several leadership committees, and has been a dedicated volunteer solicitor for our annual Call to Action. A partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP, Ellen has engaged her firm as a loyal supporter of Call to Action, as well as Go Causal for Justice and Lip Sync for Justice – all of which bring our community together around our common goal: Equal access to justice for every District resident.

I know that you, like Ellen, care deeply about the nearly 110,000 DC residents living in poverty.

Paying for the services of an attorney is often not possible when one of these neighbors needs protection from an abusive partner. Or is about to be evicted from their home. Or is denied disability benefits as a veteran.

Your generosity provides the legal help that protects homes, health, safety, employment, and education for thousands of families and individuals across the District. Without your support, their outcomes would be unthinkable.

With deep gratitude, I wish you and yours a happy and peaceful holiday season.

Sincerely,

Kirra L. Jarratt
Chief Executive Officer

DC Bar Foundation Seeks Nominations for the District of Columbia’s Access to Justice Commission

[District of Columbia, December 6, 2019] – The District of Columbia Bar Foundation seeks nominations for individuals to serve on the DC Access to Justice Commission for a three-year appointment starting in March 2020. Nominations are due by 5:00 PM on Friday, January 3, 2020.

Background

The DC Access to Justice Commission was established in 2005 by the DC Court of Appeals with the responsibility of “assuring high quality access for low- and moderate-income residents and others in the District of Columbia, who suffer disparate access barriers to the civil justice system, and with raising the profile in our community of the need for equal access to justice.” The Foundation is one of several organizations with the honor of nominating individuals to the Commission for three-year terms with responsibilities that include regularly attending Commission meetings, participating in Commission committees, promoting Commission initiatives, and demonstrating commitment to fulfilling the goals of the Commission.

How to Submit A Nomination

To be considered for a nomination by the DC Bar Foundation, please submit the following application materials to nominations@dcbarfoundation.org by 5:00 PM on Friday, January 3, 2020:

  • Your contact information (name, phone number, and email);
  • A copy of your resume or curriculum vitae; and
  • A brief (no more than 1/2 page) statement detailing the experience you will bring to the Access to Justice Commission.

All submissions must include “DC Access to Justice Commission Nominations, [Your Full Name]” in the subject line of the email.

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 leading 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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Over $10.5 Million Awarded for Free Legal Assistance in DC

[District of Columbia, November 26, 2019] – The DC Bar Foundation, in a record year for grantmaking, awarded over $10.5 million to 33 DC legal aid organizations providing free legal assistance to thousands of low-income DC residents.
 
“We are proud to support underserved residents in the District by funding legal projects that help to address their needs” says Kirra Jarratt, Chief Executive Officer of the DC Bar Foundation. “These grants will lay the groundwork in supporting the Foundation’s strategic plan to transform the civil legal aid network and ensure that all DC residents have a fair and equal legal experience regardless of their income.”
 
The DC Bar Foundation’s grants provide critical support to DC legal aid organizations providing a wide spectrum of civil legal services, including housing, employment, immigration, domestic violence, access to public benefits, and consumer law as well as family and disability law. One of the Foundation’s funding priorities is to establish a process that ensures access to counsel for individuals and families facing eviction.
 
The majority of funds will go towards helping our neighbors in Wards 5, 7, and 8 where there’s a concentration of families of four living on an annual income less than $25,000. These grants will maintain court-based and community-based offices, both of which serve as critical points of access for low-income DC residents. The Foundation is also proud to support a range of innovative projects including representation for detained immigrants at bond hearings, assistance for seniors navigating the probate process to ensure their estate is properly documented, and a coordinated intake and referral network for eviction defense and housing preservation.
 
The $10.5 million in grants is comprised of three funding streams. The first stream of funding is from an appropriation from the Council of the District of Columbia through a grant from the Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants which is used for the Access to Justice Grants Program and Civil Legal Counsel Projects Grant Programs. The remaining two funding streams are made up of private fundraising and revenue from the DC Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts Program which make up the Foundation’s General Support Grants Program.
 
To read about the impact the DC Bar Foundation is having across the District, please visit www.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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Partner Profile: Ashley James

Each month we highlight an individual working to make the justice system more accessible to DC residents. This month features Ashley James, Associate General Counsel, Labor & Employment at Facebook, member of the Foundation’s Young Lawyers Network Leadership Council, and Co-Chair of the 2020 Lip Sync for Justice event.

Job/Position

Associate General Counsel, Labor & Employment

Years on the Job

Four

Organization

Facebook

Where did you grow up?

Washington, DC

What brought you to DC?

It’s my hometown!

What was your first job in DC and what did you learn?

A summer internship at a federal agency while in high school. I mostly took away the basics of being a working person – how to conduct myself in a work environment and interact with others, what it meant to go to work every day, how to navigate the metro, etc. It was very helpful in learning how to be more than just a student.

Favorite App

Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp of course!

Favorite Movie

Pretty Woman

Favorite Restaurant

Pearl Dive or Compass Rose

Favorite Vacation Spot

A beach with clear water

Guilty Pleasure

Wendy Williams’ Hot Topics

One Item from your Bucket List

To visit every country – or at least 100

You get to paint a mural on the side of the White House. What do you paint?

“Enjoy the Journey”

Biggest failure and what you learned

Being overwhelmed helped me to say no.

Legal aid is important to me because…

It gives voices to many who are unheard.

The most pressing civil legal aid issue in DC is…

Equal access and knowledge for everyone.

Remembering Donald R. Dunner, Friend of the DC Bar Foundation

Last month, Washington DC’s legal community lost a legend. Donald R. Dunner, partner at Finnegan Henderson Farabow Garrett & Dunner LLP, passed away at age 88.

In addition to his storied and successful career as a renowned patent attorney, Don was a lifelong friend and advisor to the DC Bar Foundation. He served on the Foundation’s Advisory Committee since 1992 and as Chair of the Committee for the past 10 years. Don was also a steadfast financial supporter of the Foundation for more than 25 years.

Paul Smith, former President of the DC Bar Foundation, recently shared these words about Don:

“Don Dunner was two things to me. First, he was the dean of the appellate patent bar, and thus a formidable competitor for us appellate specialists who hoped to gain a slice of the patent appeals heard by the Federal Circuit. Second, he was the single most dedicated fundraising volunteer that we had at the DC Bar Foundation. He was absolutely dedicated to making sure the Foundation had the funds it needed to help fund legal services for the poor in DC. We will miss his cheerful enthusiasm.”

The DC Bar Foundation is extremely grateful for Don’s support of the Foundation and DC’s civil legal aid community, and for his friendship. We offer our condolences to all those who knew him. If you would like to make a gift to the Foundation in Don’s memory, you may do so here. Please include your short tribute to Don in the “Public Posted Comments” section on our donation form.

Funding Critical Needs

General Support grants are critical in supporting nonprofits who serve our neighbors. Grantees often share how much they appreciate our General Support grants, which can be used to cover operating expenses for organizations providing free civil legal services in the District. 

While these grants are small compared to our Access to Justice or Civil Legal Counsel Projects Program awards, they fill critical expense gaps that are otherwise difficult to fund – from rent and utilities, to technology maintenance, or even new office furniture. As we all know, these are vital, practical needs without which organizations cannot sustain their good work.

Funds for our General Support grants come from private fundraising, and the Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program.

Last year, we awarded a first-time General Support grant to a new organization connecting with their community through outreach in local churches. Because this was their first General Support grant from the Foundation, they were thrilled at the possibilities this new funding provided:

“Now we will be able to send staff to a conference they’ve been eager to attend, which we wouldn’t have been able to approve this year. We know that paying for operational expenses doesn’t sound as exciting as providing direct services – but it makes a huge difference to us in our ability to provide those services well.”

We value our partnerships with our grantees and count on their feedback. This year, the DC Bar Foundation reduced midyear reporting requirements, making it even easier for grantees to focus on the real work: providing clients with the critical services that make a difference in their lives.

The DC Bar Foundation Selects Six New Members to Young Lawyers Network Leadership Council

[District of Columbia, October 24, 2019] – The District of Columbia Bar Foundation has selected six new members to its Young Lawyers Network Leadership Council (YLN LC), led by Co-Chairs Meryl Grenadier and Courtney Lindsay.
 
The 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, whose mission is to fund, support, and improve legal representation of the poor, vulnerable, and otherwise disadvantaged in the District of Columbia.
 
Members of the YLN LC serve two-year, renewable terms during which they act 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 an active part of the Foundation’s fundraising efforts, and hosts an annual event, Lip Sync for Justice, that provides critical support to low-income DC residents in need of legal representation.
 
In joining the YLN LC, the following six young lawyers demonstrate their commitment to furthering the Foundation’s vision of access to justice for all:
 
Stephanie Bitto – Trial Attorney at the US Department of Labor
Geoffrey Fehling – Associate at Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP
Ashley James – Associate General Counsel at Facebook
Emily Lagan – Attorney at Regan Zambri Long PLLC
Allison Rochford – Associate at BakerHostetler 
Lori Waichman – Associate at Mooney Green Saindon Murphy & Welch PC

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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The DC Bar Foundation Elects Three New Members to Board of Directors

[District of Columbia, October 17, 2019] – The District of Columbia Bar Foundation has elected three new members to its Board of Directors, who will serve three-year terms from October 1, 2019 – September 30, 2022. In joining the Foundation’s Board, these individuals demonstrate their commitment to ensuring that all District residents have a fair and equal legal experience:

Wayne T. Gibson – Wayne T. Gibson is a Senior Managing Director at FTI Consulting, where he works as a part of their Health Solutions segment. Mr. Gibson has twenty years of experience applying economic and financial modeling, data-intensive analysis, and complex claims analysis across numerous industries and in a variety of operational, dispute, and compliance matters.

Karen A. Lash – Karen A. Lash is a Practitioner-in-Residence and Director of the Justice in Government Project at American University’s School of Public Affairs Justice Programs Office. Prior to working at American University, Ms. Lash served in leadership positions as a political appointee in the Obama Administration at the US Department of Justice’s Office for Access to Justice (ATJ), and as the first Executive Director of the White House Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable (LAIR).

Danielle M. Reyes – Danielle M. Reyes is the Executive Director of the Crimsonbridge Foundation, and has worked in education, philanthropy, and the nonprofit sector for more than twenty-five years. In addition to her extensive experience in the Greater Washington region, Ms. Reyes has worked regionally, nationally, and in the Caribbean as a leader and strategist in innovative and inclusive philanthropy, nonprofit capacity building, leadership and organizational development, and communications.

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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