Our mission is to achieve social justice

Barbara McDowell
Barbara McDowell

Established in 2009 to honor and continue the work of social justice advocate, Barbara McDowell, the Foundation aims to improve the economic well-being, social conditions, and civil liberties of disadvantaged persons and groups in the United States.

We fulfill our mission by making grants to organizations that undertake systemic, social justice litigation and by coordinating direct, pro bono litigation through our High Impact Litigation Project, both focusing on:

Access to Benefits
Children’s Rights
Disability Rights
Domestic Violence
Environmental Justice
Native American Rights
Prisoners' Rights
Refugee and Immigration Rights
Voting Rights
Veteran's Rights

Click to see the Foundation's grant-funded cases by Year, Issue Area, and updated Case Results.

Since its inception in 2009, the Barbara McDowell Foundation has supported over 60 social justice litigation cases with nearly $1,200,000 in grants to 45 organizations and coordinated some 20 cases and investigations as part of its High Impact Litigation Project

Foundation Highlights

Ribbon Icon

Donate Now

In conjunction with the milestone of celebrating its tenth-year anniversary, the Barbara McDowell Foundation has embarked on its first-ever fundraising campaign. Please join with the Foundation to meet its goal of raising $150,000 so that it can increase the number and amount of its annual grants. Click here to make your donation today!

Ribbon Icon


The Foundation’s work and the efforts of the Board appear on the “News” page, along with updates from our Grantees and High Impact Cases. Read more.

Ribbon Icon

Our Grants

The Board met during September 2019 to discuss grant applications for 2020.  As a result of that discussion, the foundation made grants to a number of organizations.  See our list of 2020 grants. The Board meets every September to choose its grantees for the succeeding year. Read more.

Ribbon Icon

Apply for Grants

The process for applying for grants is explained on our Applications page. The grant application must identify the specific legal matter for which assistance is sought. Only legal matters that address systemic legal problems that will have a high impact on a specific area of the law will be considered. Apply for grants here.