After seeing a 30 percent drop in grants to civil legal services groups in 2012, the D.C. Bar Foundation announced today that this year’s round of grants will total $700,000, representing a modest increase.
The foundation awarded 20 grants for programs at 19 different organizations ranging from $8,000 to $76,000. The grants are administered by the D.C. Bar Foundation and are funded through the Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts Program and contributions from local law firms.
This year’s grants were up by $15,000 from the previous year. The foundation said the growth was due to “modest increases” in IOLTA revenue, which had dropped during the recession because of low interest rates, and strong contributions from across the bar.
“Continued core funding for legal services in our city is essential during this challenging economic time, as the organizations that the DC Bar Foundation funds provide a lifeline for the most vulnerable in our city,” said Emilio Cividanes, president of the D.C. Bar Foundation, in a statement. “We are grateful for the continued support of our legal community, and the commitment of local financial institutions to securing a baseline of funding for legal services in our city.”
The foundation announced that an additional $7,770 would go to the poverty lawyer loan repayment assistance program, which helps local poverty lawyers pay off school loans.
The largest single grant of $76,000 went to the D.C. Prisoners' Project at the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights & Urban Affairs, which advocates for the rights of incarcerated individuals and works with clients post-incarceration as well.
The Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia received $98,500, the most of any organization. Of those funds, $32,500 will go to the group's appellate litigation project.
There were no new groups added to the list of recipients from last year.
The grants are in addition to annual funding set aside by the D.C. Council for local civil legal services groups, known as Access to Justice grants. This year, more than a dozen local legal services groups received more than $3.17 million in publicly funded grants.