AccessLex Institute is committed to understanding the barriers that impede access to law school for historically underrepresented groups and improving access to law school for all; identifying actionable strategies and public policies to increase law school affordability; and strengthening the value of legal education. In support of our research and diversity priorities, our grantmaking approach focuses on funding projects that have the potential to “move the needle” in legal education. Measurement and evaluation are essential components for demonstrating the effectiveness and scalability of interventions and are key factors when deciding what grants we make.
AccessLex accepts, reviews and funds Bar Success Research, Diversity Pipeline Research, Financial Education Research, and Unsolicited Grant Program applications pursuant to this policy. If you have questions about this policy, you may direct them to Grants@accesslex.org, with the word “Question” in the subject line.
Before submitting an application to AccessLex for consideration, please review the following information to gain an understanding of our application process, funding priorities, and eligibility requirements.
Grant Program Overview
- Bar Success Research Grant Program. The Bar Success Research Grant Program supports well-designed studies of the bar examination. Examples of study focus include effective predictors of bar success; bar exam test design and/or efficacy; and, successful study methodologies. Proposals focusing on other relevant aspects of the bar exam are welcomed. We are particularly interested in proposals that seek to inform efforts to increase passage rates among populations most at-risk of not passing on the first attempt as well as proposals that are designed to yield findings that are scalable and replicable.
- Diversity Pipeline Research Grant Program. The Diversity Pipeline Research Grant Program provides funding to programs and initiatives aimed at helping college students and/or college graduates from historically underrepresented groups successfully matriculate into law school and the legal profession. The central goal of this grant program is to increase the knowledge base around effective methods for increasing the enrollment and success of law students from historically underrepresented racial and socioeconomic backgrounds. Accordingly, we seek to fund collaborative programs that provide participants with meaningful content and experiences, as well as holistic support. Funded programs must engage in rigorous program evaluation, systematically measure outcomes and identify scalable best practices. For more information on diversity pipeline programs, please refer to our report Priming the Pump: How Pipeline Programs Seek to Enhance Legal Education Diversity.
- Financial Education Research Grant Program. The Financial Education Research Grant Program provides funding for the development and implementation of innovative, high-impact financial education research. The central goal of the grant is to develop data, facts and conclusions that further understanding on how to develop student financial knowledge, support behavior change, and ultimately promote financial well-being. We are particularly interested in measuring both student and organizational outcomes.
- Unsolicited Grant Program. To be considered for funding, a proposal must seek to improve directly, or, in the case of research-oriented proposals, develop data, facts or conclusions that further the understanding of improving access to legal education for students from diverse backgrounds; increasing the affordability and financing options for students pursuing legal education; and, enhancing the value and relevance of legal education. Any applications received through this grant program that qualify for the Bar Success Research Grant Program, the Diversity Pipeline Research Grant Program, or the Financial Education Research Grant Program will be considered ineligible for Unsolicited and invited to apply for the appropriate grant program.
Grant Application Process
Step 1: Resource Review and Eligibility Determination
- Funding Priorities. Proposals must align with the goal, as described in the overview above, of the specific grant program to which applicants wish to apply. Proposed projects must address these issues at the national level or encompass more localized efforts that might be efficiently scaled across institutions and regions for greater impact.
- Eligibility. AccessLex will review grant proposals from its member law schools and other U.S.-based nonprofit and public organizations which are classified as tax-exempt under § 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (Code) and as “public” charities under § 509(a)(1), (2) or (3) of the Code or to public organizations that are designated under § 170(c) of the Code. Faculty, practitioners and researchers who are U.S. citizens or residents are eligible for grants through their affiliated organization, provided it maintains a qualified tax-exempt status as described above. No relatives (defined for this purpose as parents, children, spouses, siblings or in-laws) of Officers or Directors of AccessLex are eligible to apply for a grant.
- Grant Agreement. Applicants should be aware that, if selected as a grant award finalist, in order to be awarded a grant, grant award finalists are required to enter into a written agreement for each grant awarded. This agreement describes the terms and conditions of the grant. AccessLex Institute’s grant agreement is available for download and review in the Grantee Resources section of the AccessLex website. Applicants will have 90 days from the date they receive a funding invitation to fully execute the grant agreement before the award offer expires. In that event, applicants will need to reapply in a subsequent grant cycle if they are still interested in receiving a grant.
- Program-specific Resources. The Bar Success, Diversity Pipeline, Financial Education and Unsolicited Grant Programs have additional resources specific to them that applicants should also read. These resources may include materials such as informational PowerPoint presentations, blog posts, or FAQs. Please visit the webpage for the specific grant program to which you are applying to access this information.
|Grant Program||Dollar Amount||Duration|
|Bar Success||$100,000-$300,000||6 to 24 months|
|Diversity Pipeline||$25,000-$125,000||6 to 24 months|
|Financial Education||$10,000-$125,000||6 to 24 months|
Step 2: Letter of Inquiry (LOI) Submission and Review Process
LOIs will be accepted from eligible organizations and will cover the following question areas regardless of the program to which you are applying. These question areas are meant to serve as a guide, as the question items in the actual LOI may differ slightly.
Overview of LOI Question Areas
- How does the work relate directly to AccessLex Institute’s funding priorities of improving access for all students with an emphasis on historically underrepresented groups; increasing affordability; and strengthening the value of a legal degree?
- What are the intended goals, objectives, and outcomes, and how will the work achieve them? How will the outcomes be measured?
- What qualifications does the organization bring to the proposed project?
- What is the total cost of the proposed project? What amount do you seek from AccessLex and for what period of time? What resources, if any, will other funders or organizations provide?
Additional Question Areas for Bar Success Applicants
- Do you have, or will you have, access to the necessary data?
Additional Question Areas for Diversity Pipeline Applicants
- What is the estimated number of students to participate in the pipeline program, if applicable?
- What other existing financial resources, or plans to secure additional financial resources, do you intend to utilize in support of your pipeline program, if any?
- What new information will be gained from this, and how will it be used?
Additional Question Areas for Financial Education Applicants
- Do you have, or will you have, access to the necessary data?
- How will the research benefit students/professionals, institutions/organizations and/or society?
Additional Question Areas for Unsolicited Applicants
- Why is this work important to pursue at this time?
All LOIs and full proposals, and their supporting materials, must be submitted through AccessLex Institute’s online application system. Applicants will have to create an account in order to access the system. AccessLex accepts and reviews LOIs and informs applicants whether they will be invited to submit a full proposal according to the schedule provided below.
|Grant Program||Accepting LOIs||Proposal Invitations Announced|
|Bar Success||May 1 - May 31||By July 31|
|Diversity Pipeline||March 1 - March 31||By May 31|
|Financial Education||June 1 - June 30||By August 31|
|Unsolicited||January 1 - January 31||By March 31|
If an applicant is currently receiving or has received funding in the past from AccessLex, their past performance may also be taken into consideration during the review of their LOI and/or full proposal. AccessLex may seek additional information from an applicant to help determine whether they will be invited to submit a full proposal. In the event an applicant is unable or not prepared to provide the information as requested, their request for funding may be denied.
Applicants may request feedback on their LOI following the announcement of proposal invitations, but such requests must be made within 90 calendar days from the date of announcement.
Step 3: Full Proposal Invitations and Review Process
If an LOI is selected for a full proposal request, AccessLex will invite the applicant to submit a full proposal. An invitation to submit a full proposal does not guarantee funding. Generally, AccessLex will require a full proposal that describes the proposed projects:
- Goals, objectives, and outcomes;
- Means to achieve the objectives and measure outcomes;
- Description of any existing datasets to be used in the research (if applicable);
- Project duration;
- Amount of funding requested, including a detailed budget;
- Total amount of funding required from all sources; and,
- Any other relevant information.
AccessLex will consider all invited proposals and may solicit input from relevant third parties to assist it with evaluating a proposal. Funding decisions will be made in accordance with the schedule below. AccessLex may seek additional information from an applicant to help determine whether they will receive a funding invitation. In the event an applicant is unable or not prepared to provide the information as requested, their request for funding may be denied.
|Grant Program||Proposals Due||Funding Invitations Announced|
|Bar Success||August 31||By October 31|
|Diversity Pipeline||June 30||By September 30|
|Financial Education||October 15||By January 31|
|Unsolicited||April 30||By July 31|
Applicants may request feedback on their full proposal following the announcement of funding invitations, but such requests must be made within 90 calendar days from the date of announcement.
During the pendency of any grant application, all contact with staff at AccessLex relating to such application by a potential grantee should be directed to the applicable AccessLex contact. Any unsolicited contact by an applicant, or any third party on applicant’s behalf, with AccessLex management or members of its Board of Directors may weigh negatively on its review.
Step 4: Award Finalization
Applicants who are selected as grant finalists will receive notification of a funding invitation. As noted above, grant finalists will have 90 days from notification of the funding invitation to return a fully executed grant agreement to AccessLex before the award offer expires. In the event a fully executed grant agreement is not received by AccessLex within 90 days, applicants will need to reapply in a subsequent grant cycle if they are still interested in obtaining a grant.
In the LOI phase, applicants may be asked to provide a description of how they generally plan to allocate funds for their project. If invited to submit a full proposal, applicants will be required to submit a detailed budget. In these budgets, applicants may not allocate more than 10 percent of their total direct costs to indirect costs. In addition, fringe benefit funding is capped at 25%.
In accordance with the Grant Agreement, applicants may be required to attend the AccessLex Legal Education Research Symposium and the Bar Research Forum (if applicable). Applicants can budget up to $1,000 for travel costs associated with fulfilling this request.
Direct costs are expenses directly attributable to the funded project.
Indirect costs are considered to be any expenses for an organization or institution to do business that are not easily attributable to a particular grant, contract, or sponsored activity because they benefit more than one project.
Examples of potential direct and indirect costs are provided in the table below. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list.
|Direct Costs||Indirect Costs|
|Costs that are directly attributable to the project that cover:
- AccessLex reserves the right to modify or cancel this Policy at any time without notice.
- The existence and operation of this Policy does not obligate the Company to offer grant funding to any applicant.
- Due to limited resources, AccessLex cannot invite full proposals from all LOIs.
- Grant funds may not be used for religious, lobbying, political activities or to support litigation.
- AccessLex does not make grants directly to individuals or to for-profit organizations.