Golden Gate Bridge between San Francisco and Marin Counties


Q: What is the mission of the Foundation?

A: The Foundation’s mission is to promote social justice in Northern California through legal services and advocacy.

Q: What types of organizations does the Foundation fund in service to its mission?

A: Except for remote counties in the far north, the Board focuses exclusively on organizations that provide direct legal services, legal assistance, and/or legal advocacy.

Q: How does the Foundation define Northern California?

A: We consider Northern California to include Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, Stanislaus, Tuolumne, and Mono Counties and all counties north of these five counties.

Q: Do you fund national or statewide organizations?

A: Yes, if the organization has an office and/or staff on the ground running a program/project in Northern California.

Q: How often do you consider grant requests?

A: The board meets four times a year to review grant requests.

Q: What are the deadlines to apply for a grant?

A: For Winter 2020, the deadline is 11:59pm on January 10, 2020
For Spring 2020, the deadline is 11:59pm on March 6, 2020
For Summer 2020, the deadline is 11:59pm on June 19, 2020
For Fall 2020, the deadline is 11:59pm on September 25, 2020

Q: What size grant should we ask for?

A: 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 ($75,000 and above) are initiated by the Foundation. Please look at the Foundation’s Grants List for more information or contact the Foundation for guidance.

Q: I noticed the Foundation has made larger grants in the $75,000-$100,000 range; how can I apply for a large grant?

A: We do not accept unsolicited requests for large grants; all large grants are initiated by the Foundation.

Q: If we were awarded a grant last year but our new request is for a different program or purpose, should we complete the New/Returning application or the Renewal application?

A: You would complete a RENEWAL application because your request will include a report on last year’s grant.

Q: What budgets should we submit?

A: We require two Organizational budgets: one for the year in which the funds will be spent and one for the previous year. Therefore organizational budgets should be for last year and the current year OR the current year and next year depending on when the funds will be spent. If your budget for next year has not yet been approved, you can send a draft. In addition, we require one Program/Project budget if applicable.

Q: Can I email our proposal?

A: No, all applications must be submitted online through our Online Grants Manager System.

Q: Can I mail our proposal?

A: No, all applications must be submitted online through our Online Grants Manager System.

Q: Will you review all applications that are submitted by the deadline?

A: 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.

Q: I have a question about my application. Whom should I contact?

A: If you are calling to check on the status of your application, you can contact Jenny Chan, Program Associate, at or 415-512-0500. If you have a question that relates to your request, you can contact Nancy Wiltsek, Executive Director, at 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

Q: I submitted my completed application by the deadline; when will it be reviewed?

A: 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.

Q: Our project does not have its own 501(c)(3) status but works under a fiscal sponsor.
Are we eligible for a grant?

A: 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.

Q: There are organizations on your grants list that don’t seem to be legally related;
why is that?

A: 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.

Q: What do you mean by “direct legal services”?

A: 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.

Q: Why legal services?

A: 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.

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