What We Fund

The Philadelphia Bar Foundation provides grants, technical assistance, and other services in support of quality legal aid addressing unmet needs in the Philadelphia region and beyond. 
Grantmaking by the Bar Foundation is a fundamental part of our mission, promoting access to justice for all people in the community, particularly those struggling with poverty, abuse and discrimination.
In December 2016, the Philadelphia Bar Foundation was proud to provide $433,050 in grants to 38 nonprofit legal aid organizations. 
Grants are awarded to nonprofit legal aid organizations performing the following general areas of work: 
  • Offer free or low-cost legal services via staff-based legal assistance. The Bar Foundation places a high priority on those applicants providing direct delivery of legal services to residents of the Philadelphia region.
  • Recruit, train, and support volunteer attorneys.
  • Promote equal access to justice by providing education on matters in the public interest.
Applicants must qualify as a tax-exempt nonprofit organization pursuant to Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. 
Three Kinds of Grants:
General Operating Support: The Bar Foundation prides itself on being one of the few sources of unrestricted operating funds for legal services agencies. By providing general operating support, the Bar Foundation enables these organizations to pursue an array of strategies in order to best serve the direct needs of their clients. In addition, such flexibility allows legal aid leaders to respond to changing circumstances and pressing needs.
Project Support: The Bar Foundation also provides support for specific projects that (1) address emerging issues; (2) address gaps in the legal aid delivery system; or (3) uniquely promote access to justice.
Special Circumstances: When possible, the Bar Foundation provides special support to assist a current grantee take a proactive stance in addressing a particularly pressing issue critical to its mission. Special circumstances grants may also be used to enable a current grantee to respond to a financial situation not previously known or not reasonably foreseeable. 
Grantmaking Factors:
1. Does the applicant advance the Bar Foundation’s mission to promote equal access to justice?
2. Is the applicant effective, including: (i) achieving measurable results; (ii) pursuing an array of strategies and programs to advance its mission; (iii) attaining a demonstrated reputation for substantive excellence; and (iv) coordinating services with related organizations? 
3. Is the applicant well-managed, including: implementation of strategic, business and development plans; use of effective metrics to measure operational and programmatic success; engagement of a strong, supportive board; employment of highly qualified staff; and sound financial reporting?