The American Bar Endowment Addresses Pressing Issues With Most Recent Grants

With generous support from ABE insured lawyer members, ABE grants support vital law-related public service, educational, and research programs and projects at the national and local levels.  These projects and programs, of importance to the public and the legal profession, advance access to justice, improve the justice system and increase civic engagement.

You can find this news release online at ABE News & Updates | American Bar Endowment News (abendowment.org)


In 2020, marred by the COVID-19 pandemic, increased racial tensions, and growing distrust in American democracy, the gap in access to justice for thousands of vulnerable Americans persisted.  Legal service provider organizations across the country are working to address new and growing issues affecting underserved populations in the face of profound challenges.  The American Bar Endowment (ABE), an independent, not-for-profit public charity, has been providing annual grants for almost 60 years to support projects and programs designed to meet these needs. 

Carolyn B. Lamm, the ABE’s President, said, “Making these grants is the cornerstone of the ABE mission.  Our insurance plans for lawyers make the grants possible.  Our deepest thanks go out to the ABE insureds who, by participating in ABE sponsored plans and donating dividends, help make access to justice a reality for many with critical legal needs.” For the 2021 grant cycle, the American Bar Endowment has awarded over $7.2 million in grants.  The ABE awarded two grants of almost $3.5 to the American Bar Foundation (ABF) and the ABA Fund for Justice and Education (FJE) for vital law-related legal service, education, and research programs. 

Joanne Martin, the ABE’s Executive Director, said, “The ABE is proud to be part of efforts across the country to close the justice gap so well documented by, for example, ABF researcher Becky Sandefur.  ABE grants support the stellar ABF research projects that enhance understanding of the law and its impact on society and improve the administration of justice.  The ABE grant supports many of the FJE’s public service initiatives that, for example, help ensure individual’s legal rights and train lawyers in specialty areas of law such as immigration, domestic violence, and veterans benefits.” 

Additionally, for the fifth consecutive year, the ABE awarded fifteen Opportunity Grants totaling over $275,000 for new, innovative, boots-on-the-ground projects across the country that focus on enhancing access to legal assistance and resources in underserved communities.  The 2020 Opportunity Grant recipients are:

Ameelio (CT – national project)  

The Brave House (NY)

Center for Institutional & Social Change (NY)

Choosing Justice Initiative (TN)

End Violence Against Women International (WA – national project)

Free to Thrive (CA – national project)

Georgia State University College of Law (GA)

Justice At Last (CA)

Legal Assistance of Western New York, Inc. (NY)

Lowcountry Legal Volunteers (SC)

Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity (PA)

Public Defender Association (WA project)

Step Up to Justice (AZ)

Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition (TN)

Until We Are All Free (MN)

Ms. Martin added, “With the financial support of our insureds, this year we were able to fund a diverse array of organizations and projects:

  • bringing justice to human trafficking and sexual assault survivors,
  • serving those at risk of losing their homes,
  • safeguarding due process for immigrants and asylum seekers,
  • restoring the rights of and ensuring successful reentry to those recently released from prison, and
  • helping prisoners communicate with their families and organizations who can assist them upon release.”

“Even a modest grant can accomplish so much and truly advance an organization’s work, often serving as the first funding to launch a critical initiative.  With our funding, the ABE meets its mission to help meet the need for legal services and supports.  We are proud to support the ABF, and FJE, and the fifteen impressive organizations who seek to use innovation to solve an urgent legal problem in their community,” said Carolyn Lamm.

For more information on the ABE and its grant-supported programs, visit www.abendowment.org or contact Jackie Casey at jcasey@abenet.org or 312-988-6402.


About the American Bar Endowment (ABE)
Established in 1942, the American Bar Endowment (ABE) is an independent, not-for-profit public charity. The ABE provides ABA lawyer members with a unique way to protect themselves, their families, and their professional endeavors.  Through participation in a range of ABE-sponsored insurance plans underwritten by New York Life.  With the option to seamlessly give any available annual dividends they would otherwise receive to the ABE as a tax-deductible donation, insureds also help achieve the ABE mission. With their support, the ABE makes grants that support critical law-related public service, educational, and research programs and projects. At its core, the ABE is a charitable organization powered by generations of lawyers committed to ensuring equal access to justice for all.