Law Foundation opens call for grant applications

The Law Foundation of Ontario’s Responsive Grants Program is accepting applications from non-profit groups interested in improving access to justice.

Each year, the Responsive Grants Program includes one round of major grants (up to $100,000) and two rounds of small grants (up to $15,000). The next deadline for both small and major grants applications is March 31.

“We really leave it to the community and to the organizations that know the legal needs of the communities to tell us what needs to happen and what projects are beneficial to the community,” says Kirsti Mathers McHenry, director, policy and programs with The Law Foundation of Ontario.

Responsive Grants aim to encourage new ideas, innovations, approaches and relationships that can help address emerging needs and connect more people to legal information and supports, especially people who are not currently being reached.

Organizations based outside Ontario can apply to the foundation for a grant if the proposed project offers a benefit to the people of Ontario.

The grants have provided seed money for hundreds of innovative projects across Ontario. For example, past grants have provided legal information support for street youth, funded a theatrical production to educate Thunder Bay high school students about restorative justice and funded the pilot of “That’s Not Fair!”— an animated series of videos, online games and lesson plans to introduce children to critical thinking about democracy.

Organizations that are interested in applying are encouraged to review the foundation’s full listing of grants made and to contact one of its grants officers with any questions or ideas they may have.

“We do see timely projects like LifeLine Syria’s application that respond to emerging and current needs,” says Mathers McHenry.

Some applications come from lawyers or non-profit organizations run by lawyers.

“There are also a lot of community agencies that know there is a legal need among the population they are trying to serve and they can connect to a lawyer and bring the expertise in to the organization temporarily for the project,” she says.

In some cases, the applications seek to develop an app or deliver information through a web portal or site.

“We see a lot of interesting ideas around technology and access to justice. We do a lot of work training front-line workers and we fund training to support those front-line workers,” she says.

The Law Foundation’s board of trustees makes the decisions on who receives the grant funding. The current chairwoman is Linda Rothstein of Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP.

“They are thoughtful, accomplished leaders in the justice sector and they make all the decisions about what gets funded,” says Mathers McHenry.

For full details and funding criteria, go to lawfoundation.on.ca.

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