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The Foundation accepts applications for its grants each year beginning June 1st and applications must be submitted by August 1st for grants to be awarded for the following fiscal year of the Foundation which is October 1st to September 30th.

Interested applicants should review the following Grant Criteria then scroll below to complete and submit the online grant application. Applicants may also consider completing and submitting by email their application via a Word document, which can be found here.


1. A review of successful past grant awards and the Foundation’s Mission Statement provides 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.

2. The Foundation seeks to award grants for social justice litigation meeting the following criteria:

a. 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. 

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

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

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

d. 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 within 60 days of the date the grant application is submitted.

e. 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. 

f. The Foundation does not support criminal cases where an individual is charged with a crime. 

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

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

3. Consideration of grants will be rated and based upon (1) Alignment with the Foundation's Mission, (2) Quality of the Proposed Project, (3) Capacity of the Organization to Carry Out the Proposed Project, (4) Urgency of the Proposed Project, and (5) Financial Health and Stability of the Applicant Organization.

Using the above-stated five criteria the Foundation has established a rating system to evaluate grant applications. The rating criteria were developed by the Foundation's Board in conjunction with an industrial psychologist. A detailed description of the rating criteria can be found here.


Grant applicants to the Barbara McDowell Foundation are encouraged to submit their applications via the online form, below.