Pro Bono Innovation Fund Request for Letters of Intent To Apply for 2020 Grant Funding

 
CONTENT
Federal Register, Volume 84 Issue 237 (Tuesday, December 10, 2019)
[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 237 (Tuesday, December 10, 2019)]
[Notices]
[Pages 67477-67480]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-26499]
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LEGAL SERVICES CORPORATION
Pro Bono Innovation Fund Request for Letters of Intent To Apply
for 2020 Grant Funding
AGENCY: Legal Services Corporation
ACTION: Notice.
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SUMMARY: The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) issues this Notice
describing the conditions for submitting Letters of Intent to Apply for
2020 Pro Bono Innovation Fund grants.
DATES: Letters of Intent must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. EST on Monday,
February 10, 2020.
ADDRESSES: Letters of Intent must be submitted electronically at http://lscgrants.lsc.gov.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mytrang Nguyen, Program Counsel,
Office of Program Performance, Legal Services Corporation, 3333 K
Street NW, Washington, DC 20007; (202) 295-1564 or [email protected].
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
I. General Information
    Since 2014, Congress has provided an annual appropriation to LSC
``for a Pro Bono Innovation Fund.'' See, e.g., Consolidated
Appropriations Act, 2017, Public Law 115-31, 131 Stat. 135 (2017). LSC
requested these funds for grants to ``develop, test, and replicate
innovative pro bono efforts that can enable LSC grantees to expand
clients' access to high quality legal assistance.'' LSC Budget Request,
Fiscal Year 2014 at 26 (2013). The grants must involve innovations that
are either ``new ideas'' or ``new applications of existing best
practices.'' Id. Each grant would ``either serve as a model for other
legal services providers to follow or effectively replicate a prior
innovation. Id. The Senate Appropriations Committee explained that
these funds ``will support innovative projects that promote and enhance
pro bono initiatives throughout the Nation,'' and the House
Appropriations Committee directed LSC ``to increase the involvement of
private attorneys in the delivery of legal services to [LSC-eligible]
clients.'' Senate Report 114-239 at 123 (2016), House Report 113-448 at
85 (2014).
    Since its inception, the Pro Bono Innovation Fund has advanced
LSC's goal of increasing the quantity and quality of legal services by
funding projects that more efficiently and effectively involve pro bono
volunteers in serving the critical unmet legal needs of LSC-eligible
clients. In 2017, LSC built on these successes by creating three
funding categories to better focus
[[Page 67478]]
on innovations serving unmet and well-defined client needs (Project
Grants), on building comprehensive and effective pro bono programs
through new applications of existing best practices (Transformation
Grants), and on providing continued development support for the most
promising innovations (Sustainability Grants).
II. Funding Opportunities Information
A. Eligible Applicants
    To be eligible for the Pro Bono Innovation Fund's Project,
Sustainability, and Transformation grants, Applicants must be current
grantees of LSC Basic Field-General, Basic Field-Migrant, or Basic
Field-Native American grants. In addition, Sustainability Grant
Applicants must also be a current Pro Bono Innovation Fund grantee with
a 2018 grant award.
B. Pro Bono Innovation Fund Purpose and Key Goals
    Pro Bono Innovation Fund grants develop, test, and replicate
innovative pro bono efforts that can enable LSC grantees to use pro
bono volunteers to serve larger numbers of low-income clients and
improve the quality and effectiveness of the services provided. The key
goals of the Pro Bono Innovation Fund are to:
    1. Address gaps in the delivery of legal services to low-income
people;
    2. Engage more lawyers and other volunteers in pro bono service;
    3. Develop, test, and replicate innovative pro bono efforts.
C. Funding Opportunities
1. Project Grants
    The goal of Pro Bono Innovation Fund Project Grants is to leverage
volunteers to meet a critical, unmet and well-defined client need.
Consistent with the key goals of the Pro Bono Innovation Fund,
applicants are encouraged to focus on engaging volunteers to increase
free civil legal aid for low-income Americans by proposing new,
replicable ideas. Applicants are strongly encouraged to research prior
Pro Bono Innovation Fund projects to replicate and improve upon them.
LSC is particularly interested in applications that propose to
replicate projects LSC has previously funded with Sustainability
Grants. Our Sustainability Grants have included:
     Community-based partnerships, like the Medical-Legal
Partnership of Community Legal Aid, Inc. (MA) or the school-based
clinic of Legal Aid of West Virginia, Inc., that work with law firms to
provide legal services where clients are located;
     Court-based partnerships, like those at Legal Action of
Wisconsin, Inc., and Legal Services Law Line of Vermont, Inc., that use
pro bono volunteers to provide same-day, in-court representation and
legal assistance;
     An ``emeritus'' project at The Legal Aid Society of
Cleveland that provides transitioning and retired attorneys with varied
and substantive opportunities to support the LASC's advocates and
clients;
     A neighborhood-based project at Legal Aid of Western
Missouri that engages transactional attorneys to assist clients in
distressed and underserved communities.
    Project Grants can be either 18 or 24 months.
2. Transformation Grants
    The goal of Pro Bono Innovation Fund Transformation Grants is to
support LSC grantees in comprehensive assessment and restructuring of
pro bono programs through new applications of existing best practices
in pro bono delivery. Each Transformation Grant will support a rigorous
assessment of an LSC grantee's pro bono program and the identification
of best practices in pro bono delivery that are best suited to that
grantee's needs and circumstances. Transformation Grants are targeted
towards LSC grantees whose leadership is committed to restructuring an
entire pro bono program and incorporating pro bono best practices into
core, high-priority client services with an urgency to create a high-
impact pro bono program. This funding opportunity is open to all LSC
grantees but is primarily intended for LSC grantees who have been
unsuccessful applying for Project Grants or who have never applied for
a Pro Bono Innovation Fund grant in the past.
    New in 2020: Transformation Grants can be either 24 or 36 months.
3. Sustainability Grants
    Pro Bono Innovation Fund Sustainability Grants are available to
current Pro Bono Innovation Fund grantees who received 2018 grants. The
goal of Sustainability Grants is to support further development of the
most promising and replicable Pro Bono Innovation Fund projects with an
additional 24 months of funding so grantees can leverage new sources of
revenue for the project and collect meaningful data to demonstrate the
project's results and outcomes for clients and volunteers. Applicants
for Sustainability Grants will be asked to propose an ambitious
strategy that reduces the Pro Bono Innovation Fund contribution to the
project over the Sustainability Grant term.
D. Available Funds for 2020 Grants
    The availability of funds for Pro Bono Innovation Fund grants for
FY 2020 depends on LSC's appropriation. LSC is currently operating
under a Continuing Resolution for FY 2019 which funds the federal
government through December 20, 2019. The Continuing Resolution
maintains funding at $415 million. Pro Bono Innovation Fund grant
decisions for FY 2020 will be made in the summer of 2020. LSC
anticipates knowing the total amount available for Pro Bono Innovation
Fund grants before August.
    In FY 2019, Congress appropriated to LSC $4.5 million for the Pro
Bono Innovation Fund. LSC awarded $4.3 million in direct grants to
support fifteen Pro Bono Innovation Fund projects with a median award
of $289,812.
    LSC will not designate fixed or estimated amounts for the three
different funding categories and will make grant awards for the three
categories within the total amount of funding available. There is no
maximum amount for Pro Bono Innovation Fund requests that are within
the total funding available.
E. Project and Grant Term
    Pro Bono Innovation Fund grant awards can have grant terms of 18,
24, or 36 months, depending on the type of grant.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                  18 Months        24 Months        36 Months
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Project Grants...............................................         [radic]          [radic]                X
Transformation Grants........................................               X          [radic]          [radic]
Sustainability Grants........................................               X          [radic]                X
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Applicants for Project Grants can apply for either an 18- or a 24-
month grant. Applicants for Transformation Grants can apply for either
a 24- or a 36-month grant. Applicants for Sustainability Grants can
apply for a 24-
[[Page 67479]]
month grant only. Applications must cover the full proposed grant term.
The grant term is expected to commence on October 1, 2020.
III. Grant Application Process and Letter of Intent To Apply
Instructions
A. Pro Bono Innovation Fund Grant Application Process
    LSC is committed to reviewing all Pro Bono Innovation Fund grant
applications in a timely and thorough manner. Applicants must first
submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) to Apply for Funding to LSC by February
10, 2020 to be considered for a grant. After review by LSC Staff, LSC's
President makes the final decision on which applicants will be asked to
submit a detailed, full application due to LSC in April. Applicants
will be notified of invitations to submit a full application by March
2020. Once LSC has received a full application from a selected
applicant, the application will undergo a rigorous review by LSC staff
and external subject matter experts. LSC's President makes the final
decision on funding for the Pro Bono Innovation Fund.
B. Late or Incomplete Applications
    LSC may consider an LOI after the deadline, but only if the
Applicant has submitted an email to [email protected]
explaining the circumstances that caused the delay prior to the
applicable deadline. Communication with LSC staff, including assigned
Program Liaisons, is not a substitute for sending an explanatory email
to [email protected]. At its discretion, LSC may consider
incomplete applications. LSC will determine the admissibility of late
or incomplete applications on a case-by-case basis.
C. Letters of Intent To Apply for Funding Requirements and Format
    The LOI should succinctly summarize the information requested for
the category of funding the applicant seeks. A complete LOI consists
of:
    1. A narrative that responds to the questions for the funding
category. The narrative should be submitted as a PDF entitled
``Organization Name_2019 LOI''.
    2. A completed LOI Budget Template. The LOI Budget should be
submitted as an Excel document entitled ``Organization Name_2019 LOI
Budget''.
    Applicants must submit the LOI via email to
[email protected]. The email should include the narrative and
budget form as two separate attachments following the naming
conventions described above.
    The LOI narrative should be a PDF document. The narrative must not
exceed 5 double-spaced pages or approximately 1,300 words in Times New
Roman, 12-point font. The LOI narrative must be paginated. The budget
form should be a completed LOI Budget Template, no changes or additions
should be made to the template form. Applicants who do not follow the
above formatting requirements for the Narrative submission may be
subject to scoring penalties.
    Applicants may submit multiple LOIs under the same or different
funding category. If applying for multiple grants, applicants should
submit a separate LOI in a separate email for each funding request.
1. Project Grants
    The LOI Narrative for Project Grants should respond to the
following questions.
    a. Project Description. Please provide a brief description of the
proposed project that includes:
     The specific client need and challenge or opportunity in
the pro bono delivery system that the project will address.
     The goals and objectives of the project, the activities
that make up the project, and how those activities will link to and
achieve the stated goals and objectives.
     Strong indication of volunteer interest in and support for
the project.
     The expected impact of the project. This should include a
brief explanation of the changes and outcomes that will be created as a
result of the project.
     The proposed strategies that are innovative or the best
practices being replicated, including a brief discussion of how these
strategies or best practices were identified.
    b. Project Staff, Organizational Capacity, and Project Partners.
Please briefly identify and describe the project team and project
partners including:
     The qualifications and relevant experience of the proposed
project team, any proposed partner organizations, and your
organization.
     The role of your organization's executive management in
the design and implementation of the project.
    c. Budget and Timeline. Please state whether you are proposing an
18- or 24-month project and provide the following information about the
estimated project costs:
     Estimated total project cost. This includes the estimate
for the Pro Bono Innovation Fund requested amount and other in-kind or
cash contributions to support the project. Your narrative should
provide a breakdown of the major project expenses including, but not
limited to, personnel, project expenses, contracts or sub-grants, etc.,
and how each expense supports the project design.
     For expenses related to personnel, please indicate how
many and which positions will be fully or partially funded by the
proposed grant.
     A list of any anticipated contributions, both in-kind and
monetary, from all partners involved in the project.
     A list of key partners who will receive Pro Bono
Innovation Fund funding, including their roles and the estimated dollar
amount or percent of budget assigned to each partner.
2. Transformation Grants
    The LOI Narrative for Transformation Grants should respond to the
following questions.
    a. Transformation Strategy. Please explain why you are seeking a
Transformation Grant for your organization. In your response, please
include:
     An honest assessment of the challenges with your
organization's current pro bono efforts that inhibit your ability to
innovate or replicate modern pro bono best practices.
     A brief description of your plans for a comprehensive and
strategic assessment of your pro bono program.
     At least three specific and important improvements to your
organization's pro bono program that you would like to achieve in the
first year of a 24- or 36-month Transformation Grant.
    b. Guiding Coalition. Please describe the core team who would be
responsible for the pro bono transformation effort in your
organization. In your response, please state:
     The qualifications and relevant experience of each
proposed team member.
     Whether a majority of your executive and senior managers
agree that your organization's pro bono program needs significant
improvements.
     The role your organization's executive director and/or
senior managers would play in a pro bono transformation effort.
    c. Budget. Please state whether you are seeking a 24- or 36-month
term and describe what you would like the Transformation Grant to fund
over the proposed grant period. In your response, please include the
following information about the anticipated costs
[[Page 67480]]
associated with a transformation effort for your pro bono program:
     The estimated total cost and a clear description of what
the grant will fund. Your narrative should provide a breakdown of the
major expenses including, but not limited to, personnel, project
expenses, contracts or sub-grants, etc., and how each expense supports
the transformation effort to improve your pro bono program.
     For expenses related to personnel, please indicate how
many and which positions will be fully or partially funded by the
proposed grant.
     For contracts, please describe whether you intend to use
consultants, implement new technology systems, conduct business process
analysis, etc. and how this supports improvements to you pro bono
program.
3. Sustainability Grants
    The LOI Narrative for Sustainability Grants should respond to the
following questions.
    a. Justification for Sustaining the Pro Bono Innovation Project.
Please describe why you are seeking a Sustainability Grant. In your
response, please discuss the following:
     The impact of the Pro Bono Innovation Fund project to
date, supported by data and analysis as to whether the goals of the
project were achieved.
     Evidence of ongoing client need and how you intend to make
the project part of your core legal services.
     The level of engagement of pro bono volunteers/private bar
and the best practices in pro bono delivery that can be replicated by
others.
     How ongoing program evaluation and data collection will be
incorporated into the project.
    b. Project Staff and Management Support. Please briefly identify
and describe the project team and project partners. In your response,
please include the following:
     The project staff that will be responsible for the
sustainability phase of the project. Please include any additional
staff, descriptions of new responsibilities for existing project staff
and/or organizational changes that will be made.
     The role of your organization's executive management in
the decision to seek this Sustainability Grant and recent examples of
your organization's track record turning ``new'' or special projects
into core legal services.
    c. Budget and Strategy to Reduce PBIF Funding. Please describe what
you would like the Sustainability Grant to fund. In your response,
please be sure to provide the following information:
     Estimated total project cost. This includes the estimate
for the Pro Bono Innovation Fund requested amount and other in-kind or
cash contributions to support the project. Your narrative should
provide a breakdown of the major project expenses including, but not
limited to, personnel, project expenses, etc., and how each expense
supports the project design.
     A narrative proposing how you plan to reduce the Pro Bono
Innovation Fund contribution to the project for the grant term. LSC is
not setting a specific percentage of required match for Sustainability
Grant applicants, but will assess the two-year budget from the
applicant's previously funded project with the grant amount proposed in
the Sustainability LOI. LSC's expectation is that applicants will
propose a meaningful shift from Pro Bono Innovation Fund support to
other sources of support during the grant term.
     A narrative discussing the potential sources of funding
that have been or will be cultivated. If the project has already
received new financial support, please provide the source and amount
committed and further describe the plans for ensuring continued
financial support.
    Dated: December 4, 2019.
Stefanie Davis,
Senior Assistant General Counsel.
[FR Doc. 2019-26499 Filed 12-9-19; 8:45 am]
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