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
BERKELEY LAW FOUNDATION
REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS FOR ONE-YEAR PUBLIC INTEREST LAW GRANTS STARTING IN 2011
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
PROPOSALS MUST BE RECEIVED BY 11:59PM OF JANUARY 14, 2011.
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
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.
(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.
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
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
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