The MBF announces $3.4 million in grant awards for legal aid programs across Massachusetts

Thursday, July 20, 2023
2023/2024 grants represent the highest funding level in over a decade
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The Massachusetts Bar Foundation (MBF) Board of Trustees met in June and approved over $3.4 million in funding to 75 nonprofit legal aid programs across the state through its annual Interest on Lawyers' Trust Account (IOLTA) grants program. 

According to MBF President Angela C. McConney, this year’s funding amount is the highest the Foundation has awarded since 2012. “The financial crisis in 2009 drove interest rates and transaction volume downward,” explains McConney. “As the Massachusetts IOLTA Program is directly tied to interest rates, this drove IOLTA income down as well. The MBF went from its highest award level of over $6 million in 2008 to a low of $1.9 million in 2014. The continued stretch of historically low interest rates has kept our funding well under $3 million for over a decade. It is very gratifying to see this kind of an upswing.”

While rising interest rates may be unwelcome news to many, the MBF’s IOLTA grants do offer a silver lining. Grants will provide funding for legal assistance for low-income clients across the state, including support for homelessness prevention, assisting survivors of domestic violence, education and child advocacy, health care advocacy, and immigration legal assistance. Grants to improve the administration of justice include court-connected mediation, conciliation, and lawyer of the day programs.

The MBF is one of three charitable entities that distributes funds from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's IOLTA program each year. The Massachusetts IOLTA Committee manages the program and works tirelessly to maximize the financial resources it can disburse to the charities. In addition, over 75 members of the MBF’s Society of Fellows volunteer their time and talent to help review applications, conduct site visits, and help ensure the thoughtful and equitable distribution of Massachusetts IOLTA funds.

“The access to justice gap in Massachusetts remains significant with still about 45% of eligible clients being turned away for lack of capacity,” McConney notes. “The MBF Trustees and Fellows are steadfastly determined  to close this gap. This year’s awards will help in that regard.”

A complete listing of the 2023/2024 IOLTA grant recipients is available here.

To learn more about the Massachusetts Bar Association's philanthropic partner, visit their website.