DCBF works hand-in-hand with DC’s legal aid community to understand the legal issues facing DC’s poorest residents and how to solve these issues so that every individual, regardless of income, has access to justice. We invest in DC’s proven and emerging legal aid organizations that tackle these issues head-on using innovative means, such as court-based projects and medical-legal partnerships. We provide 360 degrees of support to these organizations by funding their staff attorneys and leadership, evaluating and improving their operations and finances, and creating opportunities for professional development. This support is funneled through three programs: grants, poverty lawyer loan repayment assistance, and training and technical assistance. In addition, the Foundation is honored each year to recognize an outstanding member of DC’s legal aid community with the Jerrold Scoutt Prize.
Read more about our 360-degree approach below.
2020 – 2022 Strategic Plan
We are committed to the vision that residents of the District have equal access to justice, regardless of income. DCBF’s mission is to fund, support, and improve legal representation of people living in poverty and in vulnerable situations, or who are otherwise under served in the District of Columbia. Our goal for over the next three years is to transform the civil legal aid network, working closely with all stakeholders, so District residents have a fair and equal legal experience. Learn more about our three-year strategic plan here.
The DC Bar Foundation awards grants to DC-based 501(c)3 non-profit organizations that provide free civil legal aid to low-income DC residents through three annual grant programs: the Private Grants Program, Access to Justice Grants Program, and the Civil Legal Counsel Projects Program. Through these three programs, DCBF has awarded over $50 million in funding for general and project support to DC legal aid organizations, which provide free legal assistance to more than 30,000 low-income residents each year. Additionally, DCBF has received one-time funding from two bank settlements to support legal assistance in the areas of foreclosure prevention and community redevelopment…Learn more.
Poverty Lawyer Loan Repayment Assistance Program
DCBF runs an annual loan repayment assistance program (LRAP). Attorneys working on behalf of low-income DC residents at an eligible employer can receive LRAP, which is a forgivable, one-year loan to help pay the attorneys’ educational loans. LRAP enables DC legal aid organizations to recruit and retain qualified staff attorneys, who would otherwise be unable to continue their critical work because of six-figure educational debt. Since 2007, DCBF has awarded nearly $4.5 million to 271 public interest lawyers…Learn more.
Training and Technical Assistance
DCBF provides additional support to DC-based civil legal aid organizations through trainings and technical assistance. DCBF not only sponsors multiple trainings for DC’s legal aid organizations every year, but also pays the tuition fee for their staff attorneys to attend select legal skills trainings offered by other organizations in DC. In regards to technical assistance, DCBF provides one-time funding for peer evaluations and consultants when needed by grantees.
Jerrold Scoutt Award
The Foundation administers the prestigious Jerrold Scoutt Award, established by the firm of Zuckert, Scoutt & Rasenberger, in honor of the public interest commitment of one of its founding partners, Jerrold Scoutt, Jr. Given annually, the Scoutt Award recognizes a full-time legal services lawyer who has demonstrated a career-long compassionate concern for his or her clients while exhibiting a high degree of skill representing them…Learn more.