Grant Resources for Law Students & Public Interest Lawyers
Last updated April 17, 2014.
Prepared by Mary Whisner, Reference Librarian
See also the companion PowerPoint slideshow.
Read the GFIS blog for announcements.
The GFIS and its staff also:
The UW Libraries subscribe to funding resource databases. [UW Restricted]
- "Funding opportunities range from pure research grants to arts programs, biomedical and health care research, community services programs, children and youth programs, K-12 education funding, international programs, and operating grants for nonprofit organizations."
- You can search by geographic region (state, country), subject area (e.g., Migrant Labor, Legal Reform, Women's Health), Program Type (e.g., Basic Research, Educational Programs, General Operating Support, Scholarships, Service Delivery Programs).
- Each record includes information about the funding organization, a description of the program, and (when available) deadlines, organization's URL, and more.
- Search by keywords, use filters.
- Many of the funding opportunities are academic or focused on research (e.g., the National Science Foundation's grants for Law & Social Sciences)
- Some grants fund legal projects--large (e.g., the Ford Foundation's grants for Reforming Civil and Criminal Justice Systems) and small (e.g., Connecticut Bar Foundation).
Look for articles in news databases on Westlaw and LexisNexis for information about other projects that received grants may give you useful ideas.
This guide was originally developed for students at the University of Washington, so links to resources available to UW students. But what happens after you graduate or if you were never affiliated with the UW?
This guide was developed for students at the University of Washington, so links to resources available to UW students. But happens after you graduate or if you were never affiliated with the UW?
- If you are a student at another university, check out your own library's resources. For instance, the University of Oregon Libraries and the Stanford University Libraries subscribe to Pivot.
- Many of the UW Libraries' databases are available to anyone who comes to a campus library. If you're local, you can come in.
- Check out your local public library's list of databases. For instance, Seattle Public Library, Spokane Public Library, North Central Regional Library, and Yakima Valley Libraries all subscribe to a product called GrantStation. Public libraries also subscribe to databases with newspapers and magazines so you can look for stories about other projects.
- Keep your eye out for deals. For instance a member of the Alliance for Nevada Nonprofits can subscribe to GrantStation at a very low rate.
Grants.gov is a central website with information on over 1,000 federal grant programs and provides access to approximately $500 billion in annual awards. The advanced search feature enables you to search by eligibility (e.g., individuals, 501(c)(3) organizations, governments), category of the activity (e.g., "Law, Justice and Legal Services" or "Housing"), and other variables. Includes email alert service.
Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance "provides a full listing of all Federal programs available to State and local governments (including the District of Columbia); federally-recognized Indian tribal governments; Territories (and possessions) of the United States; domestic public, quasi- public, and private profit and nonprofit organizations and institutions; specialized groups; and individuals."
Foundation Center. Some content is available only to subscribers, but a lot is free, including:
- Guide to Funding Research tutorial
- Foundation Finder—"offers basic information on grantmakers in the U.S. including private foundations, community foundations, grantmaking public charities, and corporate giving programs." Search by grantmaker name, city, state, or ZIP code.
- See also Foundation Directory (annual). AS911.F65, latest edition at Reference Office
- List of forthcoming grant deadlines (with descriptions). Recently spotted: Silicon Valley Community Foundation's call for applications for grants to support legal services for immigrants (deadline: May 9, 2014).
- Grant Seeking page (some free content)
Guidestar has information about nonprofit organizations, drawn from tax returns and other sources. Tip: include "T20" in your search (it's the "NTEE code" for private grant-making foundations). You can find contact information, mission statements, financial data, reviews, and even the organization's IRS 990 forms.
Helton Fellowships. The American Society of International Law annually awards "micro-grants" (12 $2000 grants in 2013) to "law students and young professionals to pursue field work and research on significant issues involving international law, human rights, humanitarian affairs, and related areas." The application period is generally during late fall and early winter.
The Impact Fund "awards grants to non-profit legal firms, private attorneys and/or small law firms who seek to advance social justice in the areas of civil and human rights, environmental justice, and/or poverty law." In 2012-13, grants have been awarded to the Western Center on Law and Poverty, the Center for Accessible Technology, the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, Columbia Legal Services, and others.
Legal Services Corporation Legal Aid Grants fund "those qualified attorneys, organizations and entities that will most effectively and efficiently provide high quality legal representation to eligible clients within a comprehensive, statewide integrated delivery system."
One area of interest for the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation is ensuring access to comprehensive reproductive health information and services. Recent grant recipients include the ACLU Foundation Reproductive Freedom Project, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and the National Women's Law Center.
Skoll Foundation. The Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship "provide multi-year, core support to help organizations expand their programs and capacity to deliver impact at broader regional, national or global levels. They are not intended for new or early-stage programs or initiatives. Applicants must have a track record of no fewer than three years with documented results."
|detail from image in British Library's Flickr photostream
Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation awards start-up grants to new non-profits. "We believe that dedicated, talented leadership is the essence of social change. To this end, we provide funding and business mentoring to social entrepreneurs as they begin their non-profit organizations." Grants are typically $300,000 for three years.
Echoing Green Foundation. Fellowship program provides "seed funding to social entrepreneurs launching bold new organizations to generate positive systemic change." The selection cycle begins in December of each year, for fellowships to being in July.
Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition (GSEC), University of Washington Foster School of Business. "GSEC is an international student social business plan competition that challenges university-level students worldwide to use business principles to create sustainable, positive solutions to some of the world’s most challenging issues—poverty, health and development. Semi-finalist student teams from around the globe are invited to Seattle to present their ideas to coaches, mentors and judges and compete to win prizes."
- Alaska Bar Foundation—grants to non-profit providers of legal services throughout the state.
- Alaska Community Foundation Competitive Grants
- California Bar Foundation "funds projects that further its mission to champion full and equal access to the justice system, invest in the next generation of California’s lawyers, educate Californians about their rights and responsibilities under the law, and promote philanthropy throughout the legal community."
- Ca.gov grants page
- State Bar of California Legal Aid Grants—"nonprofit organizations that provide free civil legal services to low-income Californians."
- California Endowment. Mission is "expanding access to affordable, quality health care to underserved communities and improving the overall health of all Californians." Grant Finder lets you find previous recipients. Law-related organizations include Western Center on Law and Poverty (lead poisoning prevention project) and Juvenile Law Center (health screening for girls in detention).
- California Wellness. Focuses on diversity in the health professions,environmental health, healthy aging, mental health, teenage pregnancy prevention, violence prevention, women’s health, and work and health. Law-related grantees (from 2011 annual report) include California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, California Rural Legal Assistance, and Youth Law Center.
- Idaho Law Foundation—grants for low-income legal services, law-related public education, scholarships, improving the administration of justice.
- Fund for Idaho—"a grant-making foundation dedicated to building a civil, just, and sustainable Idaho"; supports community-based organizations. Priorities are human rights and environmental health.
- Montana Justice Foundation—grants to legal aid organizations and access to justice initiatives.
- Women's Foundation of Montana—"supports economic self-sufficiency of women and a brighter future of girls."
- Montana Community Foundation—does not accept unsolicited grant applications; posts competitive grant opportunities. Also funds Women's Foundation of Montana
- Nevada Law Foundation awards grants to organizations that provide legal services to the poor, to victims of domestic violence, and to children protected by or in need of protection of the juvenile court. Some funds go to provide law-related educational programs for members of the public.
- Senator Harry Reid, Private Foundation Guide (foundations in or serving Nevada).
- Alliance for Nevada Nonprofits
- Nevada Grant Professionals Association
- Oregon Law Foundation—grants to "programs that provide civil legal services to people of lesser means helping to create greater access to justice in Oregon."
- Oregon Community Foundation—"OCF recipients are as diverse as the communities we serve. Our broad focus and flexible approach bring opportunities for change to local communities." 2012 grant recipients included St. Andrew Legal Clinic (Portland) and Legal Aid Services of Portland.
- Legal Foundation of Washington "supports programs that provide meaningful access to justice for low-income and vulnerable individuals in Washington."
- Access Washington offers a grants index linking to state agency grant programs (generally for local government or organizations).
- Municipal Research Services Center, Grant Resources for Washington Local Governments. Includes links to information on grant writing and grants administration.
Foundation Directory (annual). AS911.F65, latest edition at Reference Office
- Fellowship Opportunities in Law
- Sample Searches for Networking and Informational Interviews
- Public Service Careers: Research Tips
This guide was originally prepared for Where the Money Is and How to Get It: A Workshop on Fellowships and Grants for Public Service Law Practice, sponsored by Career Planning & Public Service, UW Law Student Bar Association, and the Gates Public Service Law Scholarship Program (April 2007). It was expanded for the Trina Grillo Retreat at UW Law: Social Justice Lawyering—Innovation, Creativity, Entrepreneurship, March 23-24, 2013.