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About ABE

2018 American Bar Endowment Opportunity Grants Program

For the second year, the American Bar Endowment (the ABE) is making Opportunity Grants available to support smaller, innovative programs and projects by eligible grantees that fit within the mission of the ABE. Opportunity Grants are intended to be one-time awards to start or enhance a program of law-related research, education, or public service projects. The ABE will consider grant applications from 501(c)(3) entities for projects that meet the focus requirements set out in the Program Goal. Applications from entities previously supported by an ABE grant are eligible for consideration. Grants under this program to entities previously supported during ABE's regular annual grant cycle are to be considered independent of that cycle. It is expected that a program or project receiving an Opportunity Grant will become self-sustaining. The application process is streamlined to encourage proposals from a broad range of organizations. Prospective applicants are encouraged to contact Joanne Martin in the ABE office for more information and assistance.

The ABE is a tax-exempt charitable organization that was established in 1942 for purposes including, particularly, "to advance legal study and research and to promote the administration of justice and uniformity of judicial decision throughout the United States.” The ABE carries out this purpose by sponsoring quality, affordable insurance plans, primarily for American Bar Association members, which provide the insureds the opportunity to make a charitable donation to the ABE of their policy dividends or other financial return. These donated amounts are then used, along with funds in the ABE's Legal Legacy Fund, to make grants in support of legal study and research, educational and public service law related projects. Over the past 65 years plus, through the beneficence of ABE insured members and prudent management of the Legal Legacy Fund, the ABE has made grants of more than $277 million.

Program Goal

The goal of the Opportunity Grants program is to assist eligible grantees in the development or enhancement of innovative programs and projects that address issues of immediate and critical interest to the public and members of the legal profession. Examples of areas of focus include rule of law initiatives, access to justice initiatives, civics education on the American legal/justice system, and legal services initiatives.

During the past year, which was the first cycle of the ABE Opportunity Grants Program, 15 grants totaling over $340,000 were made. The grants were typically for $20,000, although several were for larger amounts based on programmatic need. For a listing of the grantees, go to http://www.abendowment.org/givingback/opportunity_grants.asp .

Grant Uses

ABE Opportunity Grants are intended to support specific programs and projects that address urgent needs and emerging opportunities and/or that might not otherwise be able to obtain funding from alternative sources in a short period of time. Typically, the use of these grant funds will be of short duration (e.g., 12 months). Opportunity Grants will not be made to programs or projects that are intended to influence legislation, or to government regulatory agencies. It is the preference of the ABE that grant funds not be used for the salaries of existing staff; capital expenditures; administrative overhead; services that may be duplicative of or overlap with the same type of activities carried on by another organization or organizations in the immediate geographic area of the applicant; events and sponsorships that are not a direct part of carrying on the actual program or project function; or to address operating deficits.

Eligible Grantees

An eligible grantee is an organization currently determined to be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and classified as a public charity under section 509 (a) of the Internal Revenue Code. Examples of potential grantees include from state and local bar associations and foundations; law school legal clinic programs; legal aid/pro bono legal services organizations; juvenile justice organizations; domestic violence shelters providing legal assistance; and veterans' legal assistance organizations.

Grant Application Information

Grant applications are available on the ABE's website (abendowment.org) or by contacting Joanne Martin at the ABE's office. Grant applications must be submitted to the ABE by October 31, 2018 for consideration and announcement of the grant awards by February 28, 2019. Funding of the grants will take place by April 1, 2019. An applicant with a proposal that has time-sensitive needs and/or limited opportunities may request that the ABE consider the application prior to February 28, 2019. We encourage prospective applicants to contact the ABE directly to discuss any urgent grant request. The successful grant applicants have periodic report obligations related to the use of the grant funds. A final report presenting the results of the program or project must be made within three (3)months of the close of the period over which the grant funds are used.

ABE Contact

To obtain an application form, click here. Grant applications must be submitted to the ABE by October 31, 2018 for consideration and announcement of the grant awards by February 28, 2019.

Additional guidance may be requested from the ABE at:
American Bar Endowment
321 North Clark Street, 14th Floor
Chicago, Illinois 60654-7648
Attention: Opportunity Grants
800-621-8981, ext. 6408 or 312-988-6408


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