Family Law Access to Justice Fund call

Funding to advance access to justice for families in Canada

The Law Foundation of Ontario invites applications from nonprofit organizations across Canada to the Access to Justice Fund (ATJF) in the area of family law, including child protection. Family law, including child protection, is an important area of focus for the Foundation because many people experiencing family problems struggle to use the law to improve their lives and address those problems. This is a unique opportunity to further access to justice for families through innovative projects.

Access to justice

Grants made from the ATJF are to be used to support public access to justice. While the phrase “access to justice” cannot have a single meaning, it is closely linked to the promotion of equity, fairness, and the elimination of barriers to justice (whether physical, psychological, financial, linguistic or social). It can include access by low-income or marginalized persons to information and services.

Eligibility

To be eligible to apply to the ATJF, your proposal must support access to justice and:

  • Address the priorities listed below
  • Fit within the Foundation’s mandate and be consistent with the Foundation’s vision and mission
  • Be from a nonprofit venture

Preference will be given to applications that address one (or more) of the following:

  • Constitute novel or “breakthrough” innovations that could dramatically improve access to justice or outcomes for families
  • Use technology to reach people more effectively
  • Pilot programs that have a reasonable chance of finding ongoing funding (while the Foundation does not generally provide funding to government or legal aid agencies, we are interested in ideas that have the support of those system partners)
  • Will provide meaningful insights into outcomes in family law matters, particularly applied research that will provide insights into what is working and where improvements could be made. Any research proposal must demonstrate concrete benefit to community members.

Preference will be given to proposals that involve collaboration between two or more organizations. The Foundation is happy to accept proposals that respond to needs in one or more than one province and/or territory.

Family law needs

The Foundation is particularly interested in applications that address needs, including but not limited to:

  • Supports for self-represented litigants
  • Complex family law needs that intersect with other areas of law (e.g. refugee, immigration, criminal law, and child protection)
  • Areas where no or very limited public funding is available for services (e.g. divorce)
  • Child protection, in particular efforts to respond to the over-representation of certain populations, including Indigenous families, Black families, and Latin and Hispanic families
  • Ensuring access to relevant help for all families, including LGBTQ families
  • Poverty reduction strategies and links to family law
  • Public legal education and information (PLEI) that assists the public in taking steps to identify, address, and resolve their family law disputes (Please note that we are unlikely to fund the development of PLEI unless the application demonstrates that the proposed PLEI adds to and does not duplicate existing PLEI in the jurisdiction)

Important notes

Please note that this is a non-renewable funding source. For that reason, the Foundation will only approve applications for project funding or those that demonstrate a realistic possibility of future funding from another source.

The Foundation anticipates a very competitive process. We encourage those thinking about submitting a proposal to contact that Foundation to discuss their idea in advance of the deadline for applications.

The proposed program or project may be local, regional, provincial or national in scope.

Grant amounts

The Foundation will accept two types of applications:

  • Small grants up to $15,000
  • Major grants of over $15,000 up to $250,000

Applications can be for short-term or multi-year projects.

For major grants, in particular, applicants should ensure that the specific amount requested reflects a demonstrated need for the activities and a reasonable budget for the contemplated activities.

Application processes and deadlines

  • SMALL GRANTS (up to $15,000)

Deadline: Friday June 30, 2017

Complete Part I and Part III of the application form. You can download the application form in Word format here: Family Law application form.

By Friday, June 30, 2017, submit the application form electronically to ATJF@lawfoundation.on.ca.

Applications will be reviewed and presented to the Foundation’s Board of Trustees and decisions will be communicated as they are made.


  • MAJOR GRANTS (up to $250,000)

There is a two-stage application process for large grants.

Stage 1: Letter of Intent

Please complete Parts I and Part II ONLY of the application form. You can download the application form in Word format here: Family Law application form.

By Monday, October 2, 2017, submit the Letter of Intent electronically to ATJF@lawfoundation.on.ca.

Letters of Intent will be reviewed and presented to the Foundation’s Board of Trustees and decisions will be communicated as they are made.

Deadline: Monday October 2, 2017

Stage 2: Full Application – By invitation only

Only Letters of Intent that are approved will be asked to submit a full application. An invitation to submit a full application is not a guarantee that you will receive funding.

As part of this process, applicants are required to follow the Foundation’s ATJF application form (Part I and Part III) and instructions, and to respond to any requests from Foundation staff for additional information in a timely fashion.

In addition to all of the considerations covered above, the Foundation will also be looking for applications that demonstrate that the applicant:

  • Has the skills and experience to plan and carry out the project
  • Is ready to be fully accountable to the Foundation for monies

We encourage all applicants (especially first-time applicants) to contact staff for advice on the application process. Staff may contact you for further information as part of the assessment process. The more the Foundation understands about your organization and your proposed program or project, the better assistance we can provide. However, staff must remain impartial and cannot advocate on your behalf to the Board of Trustees. All granting decisions are made by the Foundation’s Board of Trustees. 

Please remember that there is no guarantee that your Letter of Intent or Application, if invited, will go forward on any specific Board meeting date.

Successful grant applicants will receive a Letter of Agreement containing the terms and conditions of the grant. In some cases, other terms and conditions may be added to the grant. The Letter of Agreement for the particular grant will also reflect these additional terms and conditions.

The Foundation is committed to meeting community needs including the needs of the Francophone community. Applicants can communicate in French during the grants process and will receive direct French language services during this process.

On occasion, grant applications may be sent to an outside expert for review on a confidential basis.

More information

Please read our Frequently Asked Questions before submitting an application.

For more information, please contact Aliyah Bhayani, Grants Officer, at 416-598-1550 x 309 or abhayani@lawfoundation.on.ca or Kathryn Hunter, Grants Officer, at 416-598-1550 x 318 or khunter@lawfoundation.on.ca.

Want to share information about the Access to Justice Fund Call for Applications in print? Download our summary document.