How often do you consider grant requests?
The board meets four times a year to review grant requests.
What do you mean by “direct legal services”?
Examples of direct legal services are organizations that have attorneys on staff who provide legal aid to their clients. The breadth of services includes but is not limited to helping an individual or family with immigration problems, landlord/tenant issues, family law/domestic violence, juvenile dependency, senior/end of life issues, accessing federal benefits, or representing victims of predatory lenders, housing discrimination, wage exploitation etc.
What is the mission of the Foundation?
The Foundation’s mission is to promote social justice in Northern California through legal services and advocacy.
Why legal services?
Some problems require a legal remedy but many low income residents do not have access to civil justice. Employment, housing, residency status, benefits etc. may be blocked unless or until a legal issue is resolved. The Foundation sees legal aid as a bridge to social justice, without which people cannot move forward with their lives.
How to Apply
Can I email our proposal?
No, all applications must be submitted online through our Online Grants Manager System.
Can I mail our proposal?
No, all applications must be submitted online through our Online Grants Manager System.
Can I upload more than one file in one upload field?
No, Applicants can only upload a single document in response to an upload question. If an applicant has more than one file they need to upload, they need to combine the files either electronically or via scanning.
There are two methods applicants can use:
- If the files to be uploaded are in a format that is editable (such as Word or Excel), the applicant may take multiple Word documents or Excel sheets and combine them into one file.
- If the files are not easily edited (PDF or physical copies), they may be combined by utilizing the Fax-to-File tool. For example, sending two resumes in a fax would result in one PDF file containing both resumes.
How do I delete a file that I’ve uploaded to the application?
There are two ways to remove an uploaded file from an application. 1) Once the file has been uploaded, a delete button will appear below the file name. Clicking Delete will remove the file. 2) A file can be deleted and replaced by uploading a new file. Simply upload the correct document to the question and the old one will be erased.
How do I upload files to the application?
For application questions that request an uploaded attachment, click the Browse button and then choose the desired document from your computer. The file name of the uploaded file will be indicated under the Browse button. Then save your application (button at the bottom of page). Pay attention to your file names – remove extra periods or replace them with a dash or underscore character. You may only upload one document per question.
How do I use the Fax to File tool?
Using the fax tool is simple:
- To start, click the Fax to File link on the left hand side of the screen.
- Then click the Request a Fax # button and you will be presented with a toll-free fax number. You have this number for 20 minutes before it expires.
- Fax your document to the number provided. Send a separate fax for each document and do not include a cover sheet. All faxed documents will be automatically converted to .pdf format.
- After you have faxed each separate document click the Finished Faxing button to see your list of files.
- Download your converted documents to your computer and save them.
- Upload the documents to the appropriate questions on the online form.
How do we print out a hard copy of our proposal?
Applicants have the ability to create a pdf of the completed application. Just click on the Application Packet button at the top of the page and this can be saved as a pdf and/or printed.
What browser do you recommend I use?
For the best user experience when applying for a grant, we recommend using the most current version of one of the following browsers: Google Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or Safari. It is fine to use Internet Explorer, but you may encounter some minor technical issues.
What do we do if the staff person who had the log on credentials has left our organization?
- If the new person knows the previous person’s log on credentials, then the new person can log on as the previous person and then change the information to themselves. NOTE: This will completely erase the previous person. or
- If the new person does not know the previous person’s or the organization’s log on credentials, please contact Angela Hom, Administrative Assistant, at email@example.com or 415-512-0500, or contact Heidi Emmel, Online Grants Consultant, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 415-512-0576 for assistance.
What is the maximum allowable file upload size?
The file size limit is noted next to the Browse button and the system will not accept files greater than this limit. Some users have trouble with appropriate settings on a scanner and end up with larger file sizes. If these documents are converted using the Fax to File tool, the file size can be dramatically decreased.
Where can I find the grant application form?
Application forms are made available online one month prior to the grant deadlines listed above. If it is more than one month before the deadline, the application form for that deadline will not be viewable yet. The Foundation only reviews applications submitted through our Online Grants Manager System. To access an application form, you will need to log into the Online Grants Manager System. Click on the green “Apply” button at the top of our homepage to get started. For more information, you can read our Online Grants Manager guide.
Why am I having trouble uploading a file?
There a few different reasons one may experience file upload issues. 1) File names: Remove extra periods or replace them with a dash or underscore character. 2) File size: Files that exceed the maximum file size limit will cause an error. Compress the files or use Fax to File to create a smaller file.
Why can’t I find the application form?
Once you are logged into the Online Grants Manager, click on the “Apply” button on the top toolbar. You will see a list of application forms available to fill out. Application forms are only made available online one month prior to grant deadlines. If it is more than one month before the deadline, the application form for that deadline will not be viewable yet. If it is within one month of the deadline and you still cannot access the form, please contact Foundation staff for assistance.
After you Apply
I have a question about my application. Whom should I contact?
If you are calling to check on the status of your application, you can contact Angela Hom, Administrative Assistant, at email@example.com or 415-512-0500. If you have a question that relates to your request, you can contact Nancy Wiltsek, Executive Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (415) 512-0577. If you have a question about the Online Grants Manager System, you can contact Heidi Emmel, Online Grants Consultant, by email at email@example.com
I submitted my completed application by the deadline; when will it be reviewed?
We will do our best to have your proposal ready for board review at the next regularly scheduled board meeting. However, sometimes additional due diligence is required or unforeseen circumstances arise that result in our having to move proposals to future dockets. If this happens, we would let you know as soon as possible.
What are the deadlines to apply for a grant?
- For Winter 2022, the deadline is 11:59pm on January 14, 2022 (April Board Review).
- For Spring 2022, the deadline is 11:59pm on March 4, 2022 (June Board Review).
- For Summer 2022, the deadline is 11:59pm on June 3, 2022 (September Board Review).
- For Fall 2022, the deadline is 11:59pm on September 16, 2022 (December Board Review).
Will you review all applications that are submitted by the deadline?
Yes. However, in some instances, additional due diligence is required or unforeseen circumstances arise that result in our having to move certain proposals to a future docket. If your proposal is delayed, we will let you know and keep you updated.
What we fund
Can we submit a request for $50,000 for our systemic anti-racism work?
We welcome all requests to address systemic racism that are in the legal services/legal advocacy sphere but please note that the $50,000 grants awarded in July 2020 were one-time grants to a select group of organizations (those with BIPOC leadership and a long standing relationship with the Foundation).
Do I need a fiscal sponsor?
Our grants must be paid to a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit or to a public entity, such as a county or state agency. All others will need to use a fiscal sponsor. If you have a fiscal sponsor, be sure to provide both the information requested about the fiscal sponsor’s organization and information about your work/proposed project including revenue, expenses, and leadership.
Do you fund national or statewide organizations?
Yes, if the organization has an office and/or staff on the ground running a program/project in Northern California.
Has the Foundation changed its area of focus or priorities as a result of COVID-19?
The Foundation’s focus remains on legal services and social justice in Northern California. However, we are prioritizing organizations with which we have an existing relationship at this time. If you are new to the Foundation, you may apply but it is highly unlikely that your request will result in a grant.
How does the Foundation define Northern California?
We consider Northern California to include Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, Stanislaus, Tuolumne, and Alpine Counties and all counties north of these five counties.
I noticed the Foundation has made larger grants in the $50,000-$100,000 range; how can I apply for a large grant?
We do not accept unsolicited requests for large grants; all large grants are initiated by the Foundation.
Our project does not have its own 501(c)(3) status but works under a fiscal sponsor. Are we eligible for a grant?
Yes. If the project is within guidelines you are eligible to apply for funding; we would need the fiscal sponsor’s organizational budget, revenue source list, board list and tax exempt letter. In addition, we will need the budget, revenue source list, and information about the leadership of the fiscally sponsored project as part of your completed application packet.
Our work is conducted through a fiscal sponsor; what information is needed from them to apply?
If you have a fiscal sponsor, be sure to provide both the information requested about the fiscal sponsor’s organization and information about your work/proposed project including revenue, expenses, and leadership.
There are organizations on your grants list that don’t seem to be legally related; why is that?
When the Foundation made the decision to focus its grantmaking almost exclusively on legal services beginning in 2015, it was clear a number of long time grantee organizations would no longer be eligible under the new guidelines. Those organizations received either final grants or two year “phase out” grants.
What size grant should we ask for?
The majority of grants are in the $7,500 – $30,000 range, however, it is unusual for an organization to receive more than $15,000 for a first-time grant. Also, please note that larger grants ($50,000 and above) are initiated by the Foundation. Please look at the Foundation’s Grants List for more information or contact the Foundation for guidance.
What types of organizations does the Foundation fund in service to its mission?
Except for remote counties in the far north where the Foundation supports Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) programs, the Board focuses exclusively on organizations that provide direct legal services and legal and/or policy advocacy.