2021 IOLTA Grants

To:                   Potential applicants for IOLTA grant funds

From:               Barri Bernstein, Executive Director

Date:                August 12, 2020

RE:                   2021 IOLTA Grant Application Process


Application materials for a 2021 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 September 9, 2020.  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 factors.  The most important factor is the interest rate paid on participating lawyer trust checking accounts.


As a result of economic conditions brought about by the pandemic, including cuts to the Federal Funds Target Rate, decreased IOLTA income is expected during 2020.  The amount to grant for 2021 will remain close to $500,000, matching that of 2016-2020.  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.

For 2021, the following list of issues should be considered by every applicant: 

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

  • Depict a community with 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 2020 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.  An organization must select and download the materials, described below, that most closely fits 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