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Recognizing that children have special legal needs, and that those needs were going largely unmet, The Florida Bar Foundation began funding grants for legal assistance to children in the early 1990s.
The mission of the Children’s Legal Services Initiative is to provide legal assistance to needy children in critical areas which affect their safety, well being and future development. This mission is promoted through an annual competitive grant program centering on, but not limited to, legal assistance to foster care children, children seeking and in need of health benefits and children needing special educational assistance.
Grants are awarded to children’s legal services programs throughout Florida, both statewide and local. Through this grant program, the Foundation also seeks to engage private volunteer attorneys in the provision of legal assistance to needy children by the funding of pro bono programs. The funding criteria established by the Foundation for these grants are designed to encourage local matching funds and collaboration with other agencies providing services to children and among children’s legal services grantees.
Grant amounts vary based on available funding. For the most recent grant cycle, the minimum grant award was $25,000 and the maximum grant award was $200,000.
Grant applications are available each January and due in February. Grants are awarded in March and distributed in April. The funding period is April 1 – March 31.
The Foundation shall make grants to organizations, not individuals. Qualified grant applicants must:
- Be non-profit entities, tax-exempt and qualified to receive charitable donations within the meaning of the Internal Revenue Code;
- Operate within the state of Florida;
- Have an audit mechanism that provides accountability of Foundation funds;
- Agree to satisfy all the Foundation’s reporting requirements, including the submission of audited financial statements;
- Have a primary purpose of providing legal services to low-income Floridians; or a primary purpose that advances the administration of justice in Florida
- Be staffed by at least one full-time attorney or have access to one attorney on a full-time basis or equivalent, licensed to practice in the Florida
- Register and submit applications at: https://www.grantinterface.com/Home/Logon?urlkey=fbf
Additional eligibility requirements are included in the application.
In addition to funds from Florida’s Interest on Trust Accounts program, gifts from lawyers to the Foundation from the Children’s Legal Services campaign on the annual Florida Bar fee statement help support these grants, along with proceeds from the Kids Deserve Justice license plate initiative.