Grant Criteria

A review of the Foundation’s successful past grant awards and its Mission Statement provide insight as to the matters that interest the Foundation. Generally, the Foundation funds litigation matters that are consistent with our namesake Barbara McDowell’s past legal efforts and her beliefs regarding social justice.

The Foundation seeks to award grants for cases litigating social justice issues meeting the following criteria:

1. Cases which will significantly improve the well-being, social conditions, and/or civil liberties of a large number of disadvantaged persons and groups throughout the United States. 

2. Systemic cases which will significantly impact a specific area of the law or legal issue through the establishment of a legal precedent. 

3. Cases falling within the Foundation’s focused Issue Areas, including:

Access to Benefits - Children’s Rights - Disability Rights – Discrimination - Domestic Violence – Environmental Justice – Healthcare – Homelessness – Housing - Native American Rights - Prisoners' Rights - Refugee and Immigration Rights - Voting Rights - Veteran's Rights

4. The grant application must be for a specific case. Grants will be awarded for a currently active case or a case which will be filed with reasonable certainty within 60 days of the date the grant application being submitted.

5. The Foundation does not support cases where the relief sought is for an individual except if it would involve an important legal precedent addressing a systemic issue. 

6. The Foundation does not support criminal cases where an individual is charged with a crime or the filing of an amicus brief.

7. The Foundation will not award a grant where an organization is seeking general support for its mission. 

8. Successful past grant applicants can be considered for grants in subsequent years based upon the results of the grantee’s efforts in prior year(s).


All grant applications should be submitted using the online form. Interested applicants should review the Application Overview, Grant Criteria (above), Application Scoring Criteria, and Reporting and Grant Terms pages of the website before completing and submitting the online application. This information, including the online application, can be accessed using the buttons below.

Application OverviewGrant CriteriaApplication Scoring Criteria

Reporting and Grant TermsOnline Grant Application