Race Equity Grants

LFW believes that creating fair access to civil justice requires undoing systemic racial oppression.

Our Race Equity Grants provide multiyear funding to advance racial justice in civil legal aid and build power in communities most impacted by structural racism and oppression. We use a participatory grantmaking model designed to center the voices of communities most impacted by grantmaking decisions. An advisory panel of community leaders who have lived experience with the legal aid system, poverty, and racism review grant applications and prioritize the projects that will be most impactful.

The goals of the Race Equity Grant Fund are to:

  • invest in communities most impacted by structural racism and oppression;
  • support community- and client-centered approaches to civil legal aid;
  • increase civil justice for communities of color;
  • build and support anti-racist organizations and leadership; and
  • center those most impacted in the decision making process.

Since the Race Equity Grant program’s inception, 60% of awards went to BIPOC-led organizations and half were first-time grantees with LFW. The program also reflects LFW’s statewide reach: 46% percent of grantees work statewide; 26% focus on Central and Eastern WA; 19% percent serve the Puget Sound region, and 9% cover other areas in WA.

Eligible civil justice projects include direct civil legal aid services, systemic advocacy, policy reform, and tribal issues. You can read about recently funded projects below and view all previous Race Equity Grantees here.

Who can apply: Civil legal aid providers or organizations in partnership with civil legal aid providers are eligible to apply. Grant proposals can be for new or existing projects, including operational expenses, and must be focused on civil legal aid work in Washington State. Eligible civil justice projects include direct civil legal aid services, systemic advocacy, policy reform, and tribal issues. If you have an open Race Equity Grant and have not submitted your final report, you will not be eligible to apply until the funds have been spent and the final report is submitted.

Grant details: Ten $40,000 grants will be awarded in 2023, each with two-year terms.

Deadline for applications: April 15, 2023. View the application here and visit the Current Opportunities page to learn how to apply.

Watch the recording of the Race Equity Grant Webinar to learn more about the grant.   

Questions or feedback? Contact LFW Grants Coordinator Arielle Handforth by email or find a time to schedule a meeting using Calendly.

In 2022, LFW awarded eight $40,000 grants, each with two-year terms. Read more about those projects below. 

2022 Race Equity Grant Recipients

Access to Justice Board (Washington State Bar Association)
Promoting relationships between legal aid and community partners through the Community Advisory Panel, grounding their work with the lived expertise of those who have been harmed by racism within the legal system.

Global Rights Advocacy
Strengthening international human rights advocacy and legal outreach on behalf of asylum-seekers and other detainees at the Northwest Detention Center.

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) – Vancouver
Expanding outreach and capacity to meet the demand for meaningful civil legal aid for the Black Community through advocacy, education, and legal resource referrals to protect the most vulnerable peoples’ civil legal rights.

Nuestra Casa
Offering civic engagement training and providing DOJ-accredited legal services to Latino families in the Yakima Valley through the community-based citizenship program, CARE (Citizenship Access, Resources and Education).

Our Sisters’ House
Providing culturally specific legal advocacy to African American and Black survivors of domestic violence in Pierce County.

Seattle Clemency Project
Extending long-term, individualized support, including civil legal aid, employment assistance, counseling, and education to men and women reentering the community after serving excessively long prison sentences

Tenants Union of Washington State
Empowering tenants through the Tenant Education Program that includes statewide Tenants Rights Hotline, individualized tenant counseling, a comprehensive website, tenant education workshops, and housing justice services in multiple languages.

Washington Low Income Housing Alliance
Building power for people who have experienced housing injustice to change state policy through storytelling, organizing, and civic action through the Resident Action Project.

See all grantees from previous cycles here.

Advisory Panel

Our current panel includes:

Carmen Pacheco-Jones, former Advisory Panel Chair, (pictured below with her daughter and granddaughter) answered a few questions about the panel:

Photo by Deborah Espinosa for Living with Conviction

What is the value of a grant advisory panel?

When you bring multiple voices together, with multiple experiences and different dynamics and stories, you really get the individuals that are stepping up to serve their communities and who are the first responder-types who know what their communities need. So having their voices at the table is so important. They know how to build a program that is going to be meaningful and impactful, and allowing them to have the decision-making capacity gives great value to the programs.

What do you hope to provide to the grantees?

As civil legal aid providers, they are really in the trenches. And through this grant expansion, we’re really interested in communities that have often been excluded to accessing legal aid and looking at what their needs are, and the complexities in communities of color that will help us serve a broader population.

What most excites you about this year’s grants?

We looked at all these different organizations that are doing such impactful work, and thought about how we could share information, learn from one another, partner with one another, through the movement toward equity. I’m most excited about seeing the work that’s going to be done and see the organizations that received these grants really dig in and look at barriers that have inhibited access for communities of color.