To: Potential Applicants for IOLTA Grant Funds

From: Barri Bernstein, Executive Director

Date: August 16, 2017

RE: 2018 Application Process


Application materials for a 2014 IOLTA (Interest On Lawyers’ Trust Accounts) grant, for activities carried out within the state of Tennessee, are available below. Completed applications must be submitted in hardcopy, by United States mail, postmarked no later than Friday, September 13, 2013. NO awards will be made for 2014 to organizations new to the IOLTA grant program. If there is any question regarding that status, contact Foundation staff.


The IOLTA awards program is made possible from the interest earned on the pooled trust checking accounts of participating lawyers. The dollar amount available to grant varies based on several ungovernable factors, including the business cycle and interest rates.

During the last fiscal year, the interest rates paid on balances in Tennessee lawyer accounts continued to decline. However, past action by the Board of Trustees of the Tennessee Bar Foundation (administrator of the IOLTA program by designation of the Tennessee Supreme Court), did create a reserve fund of IOLTA monies. To make up the 2014 grant awards, a portion of that reserve will be used to supplement the interest earned during the last fiscal year. Due to the continued, projected, long-term nature of current rates, the Foundation must maintain the rest of the dwindling reserve for future years. Therefore, be aware that the total amount available to grant for 2014 will be approximately $102,000 less than that of 2013.

As always, there is no assurance that a repeat applicant will receive continued IOLTA funding, or that an individual grant award will equal that of the past year. Keep this in mind as your organization determines whether to submit an application and the amount of funds to request.

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

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

· 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, lack of indication of at least efforts to secure other support).

· Request an amount of funds that far exceeds grant awards to similar organizations (see the list of 2013 awards on this site as examples).

Applicants most 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.

· Employ a strong staff.

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


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

I – Improve the Administration of Justice
Organizations tangential to the legal system that 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 that employ staff lawyers to provide free civil legal assistance to the indigent and that coordinate the services of lawyers in private practice who provide pro bono service to the indigent.
Instructions & Forms - II
Application Questions - II
III – Provide Legal Services (Staff Attorney Model)*
Organizations that 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 that coordinate the services of lawyers in private practice who provide pro bono service to the indigent.
Instructions & Forms - IV
Application Questions - IV


*Additional information regarding the types of organizations that may “Provide Legal Services” is available here.