Impact Fund Grants

The Impact Fund

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Grant amount: US $1,000 - US $50,000

Next deadline: Nov 5, 2019 (Full proposal)

Later deadlines: Jan 14, 2020 (Letter of inquiry), Feb 11, 2020 (Full proposal), Apr 7, 2020 (Letter of inquiry), May 5, 2020 (Full proposal), Jul 14, 2020 (Letter of inquiry), Aug 11, 2020 (Full proposal), Oct 6, 2020 (Letter of inquiry)

Applicant type: For-Profit Business Nonprofit Working Professional

Funding uses: Project / Program

Location of project: United States

Location of residency: United States

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About this funder:

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Overview:

The Impact Fund

Our mission is to provide grants, advocacy and education to support impact litigation on behalf of marginalized communities 

Grants

The Impact Fund awards grants to legal services nonprofits, private attorneys, and/or small law firms who seek to advance justice in the areas of civil and human rights, environmental justice, and/or poverty law. 

Every year, we make grants to legal services nonprofit organizations seeking to advance and/or defend justice in the areas of civil and human rights, environmental justice, and to fight poverty.

In the past 25 years, the Impact Fund has granted more than $6 million in general and donor-advised grants. We award grants four times per year, most within the range of US$10,000 to US$25,000. 

The Impact Fund makes grants to lawyers, law firms, and nonprofit organizations involved in impact litigation. Most of our grants are for one particular case, but occasionally we fund a series of cases bound by a common strategy. We fund civil rights, human rights, anti-poverty, and environmental justice cases that will affect a marginalized group. Most of our grants are for class actions, but we also fund multi-plaintiff and environmental justice cases that aim to significantly affect a larger system. Impact Fund grants may be used for out-of-pocket litigation expenses such as expert fees and discovery costs, but not for attorney's fees, staff, or other overhead.

Funding Sectors

Social Justice

The Impact Fund provides grants and legal support to assist in human and civil rights cases. We have helped to change dozens of laws and win cases to improve the rights of thousands.

The cases we are funding allege that:

  • In California, police used excessive force against #BlackLivesMatter protesters.
  • In Colorado, female police officers face losing their careers because they can’t do enough push-ups and sit-ups.
  • In Ohio and New York, a gun manufacturer knowingly sells to dealers that arm criminals.
  • In Massachusetts, prisoners with Hepatitis C are going untreated.
  • In North Dakota, Native Americans can’t vote because of a recent voter suppression law.
  • In Florida, prisoners who request mental health services are abused and, when they complain, the abuse gets worse.

Environmental Justice

The Impact Fund provides grants to support local litigation for environmental justice, with a focus on marginalized comunities. These are often cases no one else will support. 

The cases we are funding are to stop:

  • Proposed mining in the Superior National Forest that would contaminate groundwater, damage wetlands, and destroy the local Native American wild-rice economy.
  • Unwanted development, after a community garden in New York was bulldozed in the middle of the night.
  • Pollution from a lighter fluid factory in New Jersey that is causing illness to residents in a low-income neighborhood.
  • Clear-cut logging that is threatening the health and livelihood of the local indigenous community in Ontario.
  • Spraying pesticides at will in California.
  • A new highway bridge that is the latest in a long history of environmental hazards heaped upon an African American and Latino neighborhood in Corpus Christi, severing it from the rest of the city.

Economic Justice

The Impact Fund provides financial and other forms of support to cases fighting for economic justice. From workers' rights to consumer protection for vulnerable populations, impact litigation is a powerful tool to hold corporations accountable. 

The cases we are funding allege that:

  • In Texas, people with unpaid tickets are sent to “debtors’ prison.”
  • In California, landlords lose their insurance when they accept Section 8 vouchers from low-income tenants.
  • In Idaho, homeless people are jailed for sleeping outdoors, even when there are no shelters to take them in.

Additional Considerations

Is your case set up for success?

No one can guarantee a victory. That's why we look for a coherent strategy and a legal team with sufficient experience and resources to give the case the best chance of success.

Have you collaborated with anyone else?

Legal work can be all-encompassing. But taking the time to talk with others who have argued (or are currently arguing) similar cases can make a huge difference in the long run.

Do you need the money?

You probably wouldn't be reading this if you didn't need financial support, but just in case: We prioritize requests from applicants who need funding to keep their case moving forward.

Have you estimated what your case will cost?

Litigation costs can be hard to predict, but we’ve found there is value in planning. Once you run the numbers, you might move securing co-counsel to the top of your list. (We can help.)

Have we funded your case before?

Occasionally we will fund a case more than once. In these situations, the case has lasted several years and has a new set of challenges and expenses.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.

Eligibility:

  • To be eligible to apply for an Impact Fund grant, all of the following must be true: 
    • You are a lawyer, or work for a law form or a nonprofit legal organization
    • You are looking for funding for a specific case
    • Your case targets social, economic, or environmental justice
    • Your case is a class action, or it will have a systemic impact in another way
    • You are seeking funding for out-of-pocket litigation expenses
    • You are willing to repay your grant if you recover fees/costs at the end of your case

Preferences:

  • We prefer to fund cases that have been filed or are about to be filed. You get extra credit if you’ve passed a motion to dismiss.

Ineligibility:

  • Our grants do not fund attorney or staff time or organizational overhead.
  • Cases brought by non-lawyers who are representing themselves (also known as pro se litigants) are not eligible for Impact Fund grants.