2011 Request for Proposals

Request For Proposals For One-Year Public Interest Law Projects

Starting In 2011


October 1, 2010


The Berkeley Law Foundation (BLF) is now soliciting proposals for one-year public interest

legal projects to begin in 2011.  To be considered, proposals must be received electronically by 11:59

p.m. on Friday, January 14, 2011.


BLF traditionally awards one to two grants per year to individuals undertaking public interest law

projects that will serve legally disadvantaged or politically under-represented groups and promote

systemic change.  We view our grants as seed money for innovative projects that will immediately

provide sorely needed legal services and will continue providing such services for years to come.


This document consists of a request for proposals and grant application instructions.  For a list of our

previous grantees, their project titles and their sponsoring organizations, please visit the Past Fellows

page of our website.  Although many of our grantees have been located in the San

Francisco Bay Area, we fund projects throughout the country.  Past projects have been located in New

York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Southern California, Central Valley, Florida, Washington,

and Arizona, among other locales.


Each year’s grant amount depends on the availability of funds. Proposals received by January 14, 2011

will be reviewed over several weeks.  Finalists will be selected in March 2011 and interviewed via

teleconference or Skype videoconference in early April 2011.  BLF will select its 2011-2012 grantees by

May 1, 2011.


The end of this document includes contact information for queries and instructions on how to submit

your proposal, which we look forward to receiving.


Arthur Liou and Blake Thompson

BLF Grants Co-Chairs






Mission Statement

The mission of the Berkeley Law Foundation (BLF) is to fund new lawyers and innovative

public interest law projects that serve disadvantaged people.  BLF members invest directly in the public

interest work of our peers, emphasizing a shared-income approach to social change.  We make this

choice because we recognize that lawyers have a personal and professional responsibility to dismantle

inequalities and to improve access to justice.  Recognizing that the responsibility to challenge systemic

inequality applies equally to the structure of our organization, BLF incorporates diversity as a core value.


Our approach to funding public interest law, first established by BLF in 1976, empowers lawyers

to pursue careers in the public interest, launches creative public interest projects and organizations,

provides legal services to thousands of disadvantaged people, and deploys the power of the law in the

service of social justice.


How To Apply For A Grant

BLF now invites applications for grants for the 2011-2012 funding year.  After reviewing the

funding criteria described below, please email your proposal in the format specified to:


Berkeley Law Foundation

Email: blfgrants@gmail.com



Criteria For Funding

1. What BLF Will Fund

BLF seeks to fund projects that include the following components: legal advocacy, community

education, and/or policy change in areas affecting groups of people who generally lack access to the

legal system.


Because grants are for one year only, proposed projects must be designed so that they can

achieve results within that time and can either demonstrate the capacity to become self-supporting or

can develop other funding sources after the grant year.  BLF prefers to make grants that provide seed

money for new projects rather than assist established, ongoing projects.  While we understand that

primarily or exclusively targeted toward administrative or overhead costs.  Factors also considered in

awarding grants include:

  • need for the proposed project
  • impact of the proposed project
  • availability or lack of other funding sources
  • level of existing legal services that address the project’s identified problem
  • quality of the proposal
  • applicant’s connection to the community served
  • diversity of applicant
  • stability of sponsoring organization
  • date of graduation
  • applicant’s demonstrated commitment to community service
  • qualifications of the applicant

Visit our Past Fellows page for a list of programs that BLF has previously funded.

BLF encourages proposals that address needs and issues not addressed by previous BLF projects.


2. International Projects

BLF has never before funded an international project, but if you wish to propose an international

project, please address these following considerations:

How is your proposed project a legal project?

How is a U.S. legal education necessary to your project?

How will your work on the project be supervised adequately?

Where does the project require you to be licensed?  Will you be filing lawsuits in U.S. courts

or international tribunals?  How long will you reside outside of the U.S.?


3. The Applicant

BLF seeks to fund original projects developed by individual applicants, not organizations.  The

applicant must have a leadership role in developing, writing and submitting the grant proposal.  Current

3Ls or recent law school graduates (less than five years out of law school) may apply.


Grantees may work independently, but BLF strongly favors affiliation with a preexisting public

interest group.  At an earlier historic moment, BLF funded individuals who established organizations

that have since changed the face of legal services, e.g., the East Bay Community Law Center, the

Homeless Action Center, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, the National Center for Lesbian

Rights, and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project.


However, at this moment in time, BLF prefers funding projects that will be affiliated with an

established organization.  Association with a public interest group helps grantees secure supplemental

funding (either financial or in-kind) to cover the full cost of the project, establish connections with the

client community, and obtain supervision from more experienced attorneys.  However, BLF is funding

the grantee and project set forth in the application, not the regular work of the sponsoring organization.


If BLF has enough funds to offer more than one fellowship, BLF will exercise a preference for a

University of California, Berkeley Law School graduate for one of the fellowships.  If there is enough

funding only for one fellowship, no preference will be used.


4. How Much BLF Will Fund

In 2011, BLF expects to award one to two grants for full-time work for twelve months.  For the

last several funding cycles, our full-time grant has been approximately $35,000, depending on available



The Selection Process

Committees made up of BLF directors and members initially review the proposals and then

propose finalists to the BLF Board of Directors, which selects the finalists after consulting with the BLF

membership.  Finalists are notified in mid-March and invited to interview with the Board of Directors.

For the last two years we have interviewed all of our finalists via Skype videoconference, and we

anticipate doing the same this year.


The announcement of new grantees can be expected by May 1, 2011.  New grantees generally

begin their projects in the fall although contracts are negotiated individually to accommodate the

specific needs of the grantees and their projects.


Further Information

Examples of successful grant proposals are available from the BLF office.  If you have questions

regarding the submission of a proposal, the criteria for funding, or related matters, please contact our

current Grants Co-Chairs, Arthur Liou, and Blake Thompson, whom you may email at



Format For Grant Proposals

Proposals shall be submitted electronically.  DOC and PDF formats are preferred.  Please send a

single email before 11:59 p.m. on Friday, January 14, 2011 to blfgrants@gmail.com, attaching the

various documents described below.


The proposal shall include the following components:


1. The cover or title page, including the name, address, phone number, and email address,

the title of the project, and the amount of funding requested.


2.  A one page summary of the application

(a) the name of the applicant

(b) project title

(c ) brief description of the applicant and sponsoring organization, if any

(d summary of the problem

(e) overall objectives

(f) the steps the project proposes to take to address the problem

(g)  amount requested


NOTE:  Your one-page summary should be able to stand on its own and give a complete description

of you and your project.  While every project proposal is thoroughly reviewed by the committees

(described above), subsequent BLF directors who were not on a particular committee will rely

heavily on your one-page summary in determining finalists.


3. A description of the project (4 to 6 double-spaced pages) should address the following points:

(a) The need or problem the project addresses.  Include a discussion of what, if any, has already been done

in the area of need and by whom, why past efforts have been inadequate, the target group, the

geographical focus of the project, and other problems shared by the target group.

(b) Project Goals.  Define and discuss the goals of your project, including a discussion of the intended

impact of the project on the identified problem.

(c) Proposed Action Steps. Discuss how the project will meet the goals identified above.  Please

include a timetable for the accomplishment of these steps.


4. A description of the applicant (up to 2 double spaced pages).  Please describe your prior

community service experience, your connection to the community that you propose to serve, how

you would contribute to the diversity of the public interest legal profession, and any other reasons

you are qualified to undertake your proposed project. 


One of the goals of BLF is to diversify the legal profession.  This portion of the application offers

diversifying the legal

gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender/queer;; economically disadvantaged;; mentally, developmentally or

physically disabled;; immigrants;; non-native English speakers;; and members of other disadvantaged



According to the State Bar of California in its Report & Recommendations from the Diversity Pipeline

Task Force (August 2006), in 2001, racial minority individuals constituted 17% of the bar and 53.3% of

the populace, with Caucasians constituting the other 83% of the bar and 46.7% of the populace.

(African Americans were 2.4% and 6.7% respectively;; Asian Pacific islanders were 6% and 11.2%;;

Latinas/os were 3.7% and 32.4%;; other minorities were 4.9% and 3%.)  LGBT individuals were

2.4% of the bar and 2.1% of the populace, and people with disabilities were 4% of the bar and

17.4% of the populace.


5. Material supporting your proposal including:

(a) If there is a sponsoring organization, a description of the organization and how it can

contribute to the success of the project.

(b) A list of the people involved in the project, including respective roles and relevant experience.

(c) resume.

(d) One letter of support from your sponsoring organization, if there is one.

(e) Two letters of recommendation. Submit letters only from those who either know your work

well or are very familiar with the proposed project.  Letters from persons involved in the

ently serving on

the BLF Board of Directors to write letters of recommendation.

(f) Overall Budget.

expenses, including details on how you will cover salary, benefits (if any), payroll taxes and

office overhead.  Further details about project expenses such as travel, copying, translation, etc.

should also be provided.

(g) Other Funding. Please mention any other sources that you have approached for funding. For

each source of support, state whether the proposed project has a commitment from that source

and/or if there are contingencies on such support.  Please include a discussion of potential

future sources of support. 


Email Instructions

The proposal, including all letters of support and other supporting materials, must be emailed as

one document in DOC or PDF format.  Letters of recommendation and materials about the sponsoring

organization should be scanned and emailed as PDFs.


Please attach your proposal and supporting documents in one email, and use the following file

naming conventions:


Last Name, First Name, Document type, and number


E.g., González, Marc-Tizoc Proposal,

González, Marc-Tizoc Recommendation 1,

González, Marc-Tizoc Recommendation 2,

González, Marc-Tizoc  Map of Oakland, CA

González, Marc-Tizoc  Homeless Action Center Promotional Material


The subject of your email should include your name and the name of your project, e.g., Marc-Tizoc

González, Multidimensional Social Justice Advocacy: Transformative Community Lawyering in

Oakland, CA.



Your complete proposal, including all letters of support and other supporting materials, must be

received by 11:59 p.m. on  Friday January 14, 2011.  Late proposals will not be considered.


Good luck!  We look forward to reviewing your proposals.


Arthur Liou and Blake Thompson,

BLF Grants Co-Chairs