2019 IOLTA Grants

To:                   Potential applicants for IOLTA grant funds

From:               Barri Bernstein, Executive Director

Date:                August 15, 2018

RE:                  2019 Application Process



Application materials for a 2019 IOLTA (Interest On Lawyers’ Trust Accounts) grant are available below.  Completed applications must be submitted in hardcopy, by United States mail, postmarked no later than WEDNESDAY, September 12, 2018.  Applications CANNOT be accepted from organizations new to the IOLTA grant program.  If there is any question regarding that status, contact Foundation staff.


IOLTA awards are made possible from the interest earned on lawyers’ pooled trust checking accounts.  The annual dollar amount available to grant varies, based on several ungovernable factors.  The most important factor is the interest rate. While interest rates paid on balances in lawyer accounts are slowly rising, they have not increased for the length of time needed to create a larger pool of grant funds.


To make up the dollar amount of the 2018 awards, a portion of the IOLTA Reserve Fund was used to supplement the interest earned during the last fiscal year.  The remainder of the Reserve Fund’s balance must again be retained for future years, in an effort to offer a consistent level of grant funds for as long as possible.


Be aware that the total amount available to grant for 2019 ($500,000) will equal that of years 2016-2018.  There are no additional funds.  There is also no assurance that a repeat applicant will receive IOLTA funding, or that a grant award will match that of the past year.   Keep this in mind as a determination is made whether to make the effort to apply and, if so, the amount of funds to request.  Organizations that choose not to apply may be confident that future applications/grant awards will not be adversely affected by that decision.


In addition, the following list of issues should be considered by every applicant: 

Applicants more likely to be DENIED a grant award are those that

  • Demonstrate little need for or use of the service offered, no matter how well organized and well thought out the potential service might be
  • Show a poorly structured governing board (few members, numerous members employed in the same industry).
  • Show thin financial resources (IOLTA funds proposed as the sole source of funding, or lack of indication of efforts to secure other support).
  • Request an amount of funds that far exceeds IOLTA grant awards to similar organizations (see the list of 2018 awards on this site as examples).

Applications more likely to RECEIVE a grant award are those that

  • Provide a concise, well-written narrative (all applications should be proof read before submission by someone other than the grant writer).
  • Show a history of success in the field of interest.
  • Show IOLTA funds are not the sole source of support.
  • Meet all the requirements of the format, submission process and informational requests of members of the Grant Review Committee.


Four application formats, keyed to the type of services offered by the organization, are available, each as editable documents in MS Word.  The organization/grant writer must select and download the materials, described below, that most closely fit the organization OR the services the organization proposes to offer.  Grant writers uncertain about the parameters of IOLTA funding or unsure which format to select are urged to call Foundation staff at 800/634.2516 or 615/242.1531.


FOR EASE IN USE, EACH PACKAGE IS SEPARATED INTO TWO PARTS, “INSTRUCTIONS & FORMS” and “APPLICATION QUESTIONS.”  Once the correct format is selected, make sure both parts are read and utilized.


I – Improve the Administration of Justice
Organizations tangential to the legal system which seek to have direct, secondary or eventual beneficial impact on legal processes (generally do not employ lawyers).
Instructions & Forms - I

Application Questions - I

II – Provide Legal Services (LSC–Funded Model)
Organizations partially funded by the Legal Services Corporation which employ staff lawyers to provide free civil legal assistance to the indigent and which coordinate the services of lawyers who provide pro bono service to the indigent.
Instructions & Forms - II

Application Questions - II

III – Provide Legal Services (Staff Attorney Model)
Organizations which employ staff lawyers to provide free civil legal assistance to the indigent.
Instructions & Forms - III

Application Questions - III

IV – Provide Legal Services (Pro Bono Model)
Organizations which coordinate the services of lawyers who provide pro bono service to the indigent.
Instructions & Forms - IV

Application Questions - IV