Fueling Change in Your Community

We're a charitable grantmaking organization – awarding grants to Ohio non-profits addressing specific, unmet legal needs in their communities. Since 1992, we've awarded more than $12 million to law-related philanthropic organizations.

Grant applications are reviewed by the Board of Trustees twice each year. Deadlines for submitting grant applications each year are 5:00 p.m. on February 15 and August 15. Decisions are made by June 30 and November 30 respectively.

Application Process


The Ohio State Bar Foundation is a public charity committed to advancing the philanthropic interest of Ohio’s lawyers. We work to improve the justice system, enhance public understanding of the law and recognize excellence in the profession. Our core values include a commitment to a society served by a fair, impartial and accessible system of justice. We believe such a justice system results from the combined efforts of private citizens, educators, judges and lawyers.

Pre-Submission Conference

Potential grant applicants are required to participate in a pre-submission conference with Foundation staff prior to completing any grant application request. To schedule your in-person or phone pre-submission conference please contact  800/282/6556.

Guidelines for Consideration of Grant Applications

Updated by the Board of Trustees on April 15, 2016.
The Ohio State Bar Foundation grant program assists organizations with law related projects that: (1) promote the pursuit of justice; (2) promote public understanding of the rule of law. All grant requests must fulfill one of these two goals. We welcome the opportunity to discuss your project idea.

While maintaining flexibility in considering grant applications, the Ohio State Bar Foundation Board of Trustees sets forth the following guidelines to aid potential applicants. These factors are intended only to be advisory.

  • Single project – The project should be clearly defined. Projects that are innovative or address unmet needs will be favored. Single projects may include funding for legal services where such funding would be ancillary to a project that is new, innovative and capable of future replication without the use of OSBF funding.
  • Length of OSBF funding – The Foundation generally awards funding on an annual basis.  Funding for meritorious projects could be awarded beyond one year in special circumstances. 
  • Need – The applicant must demonstrate a need. Projects that duplicate similar services or programs already provided in an area may be disfavored. If there is a need for additional services of this nature, the applicant should demonstrate that they have developed means of coordinating with existing services.
  • Other sources of funding – Applicants are encouraged to identify other potential sources of funding or have secured such sources to make the project viable.
  • Geographic focus – The Foundation strives to fund projects in the state of Ohio with a focus placed on geographic diversity.
  • Replication/Dissemination plan - Applications must include a plan to disseminate or replicate the product produced with the Foundation’s grant funds.
  • Evaluation - Applicants should incorporate a means for evaluating the project and must complete the Foundation’s evaluation.
  • Resulting products – Copies of data, written materials, audiovisual materials or other products developed as a result of the Foundation’s grant must be provided.

The Ohio State Bar Foundation strives to identify and fund projects that most effectively further our mission of promoting the pursuit of justice and public understanding of the rule of law.

Please review our list of recently funded projects to see the breadth of our work in the state of Ohio.

We recognize that much work remains to improve the public understanding of the law. As such, we have determined that our grant funds will not support:

  • Individuals, scholarships for individuals
  • Capital expenditure, construction, renovation, equipment or supplies
  • Debt reduction, retroactive funding
  • Endowment, endowment campaigns
  • Fundraising benefits or mass appeal solicitation
  • Political campaigns, election or political activities, propaganda, lobbying activities
  • Compensation or other direct or indirect funding of lawyers to provide legal services, except for single projects as described in the Guidelines for Consideration of Grant Applications.
The Foundation discourages applicants from requesting funding for fixed costs such as salaries, employment benefits and operational expenses.

If you have questions about what the Ohio State Bar Foundation might fund, please contact 800/282/6556.

Grant Application Deadlines

Spring Grant Cycle

Application Due: February 15, 5:00 p.m.
Award Date: By June 30

Fall Grant Cycle

Application Due: August 15, 5:00 p.m.
Award Date: By November 30

Application Procedures

Your complete grant application includes the following:

  • One-page cover letter describing the project and the amount of your funding request;
  • Organizational background – including history, mission, types of programs offered, constituencies served;
  • Project description – including justification of need, statistics on socio-economic information for populations served, specific goals and objectives, activities planned to meet goals and objectives, anticipated outcomes, anticipated challenges/difficulties, project timeline, qualifications of key personnel, methods of evaluation, collaborating organizations, linkages between the program and additional community resources;
  • Project Budget – including anticipated expenses, and details about how the Foundation funds will be used, anticipated income – including information about other sources approached for funding;
  • Organizational Budget – including current year budget and proposed budget for project year(s) showing both income and expenses, the organization’s most recent audited financial statement and 990 form;
  • Supporting Documents – list of current board of trustees, Internal Revenue Service letter confirming IRS Code
    501(c)(3) status and classification as a public charity or information confirming status as a governmental unit or agency;
  • Optional Documents – letters of support, readily available printed material about the organization such as annual reports or brochures.

We encourage applicants to use our online grant portal to submit grant requests, however, hard-copy applications will be accepted.

If you are submitting a hard-copy application, please DO NOT submit applications in notebooks, binders or plastic folders. Grant applications must be received by 5:00 pm on February 15 or August 15.

Mail your completed application to:

Ohio State Bar Foundation
1700 Lake Shore Drive
Columbus, OH 43204