Welcome to the new SDCBF Grant Portal!

Welcome to the new SDCBF Grant Portal! With our new portal, you have the flexibility to save your unfinished applications and return to them at any time, ensuring that you can work at your own pace. As a registered user, you will have access to your draft applications, past submissions, and current submissions, allowing you to easily track your progress and review your previous applications. 

Returning users, please note that you will need to create a new account to access the portal. To get started, simply click on "create account" and follow the instructions to set up your profile. Once you setup your account, you can easily take the steps to submit your application. First time applicants should read the information below. 


The San Diego County Bar Foundation is a non-profit, charitable foundation established to improve public awareness of the legal system, the administration of justice and the delivery of legal services through distribution of its funds.



The San Diego County Bar Foundation is the charitable arm of the San Diego County legal community, and in partnership with the San Diego County Bar Association, strives to provide access to justice by investing in sustainable results and advocacy for people and communities in our region that that are impacted by poverty, abuse and discrimination.


By offering an effective means for the legal community to engage in law-related philanthropy, the San Diego County Bar Foundation strengthens the profession by providing lawyers the opportunity to contribute to the quality and benefit of San Diego County. Based on the belief that justice serves as the great equalizer in our society, we ensure access to justice by investing in legal aid and public interest organizations along with expertise, leadership and advocacy. We serve as a leader in our community and a model bar foundation nationwide. We maintain the highest level of commitment to the permanence of the Bar Foundation and its work by building law- related philanthropy.

Core Values

Access to Justice  
Equal access to justice is central to our democratic society, integral to the efficient functioning of our justice system and a critical part of the safety net for the vulnerable in our society. We support the legal and non-legal community through our diligent grant making process and our on-going fundraising efforts in order to create a healthier and stronger community environment.

  1. Service - Our focus always centers on providing equal access to justice, public awareness and advocacy to the underserved and vulnerable as well as increasing public awareness of these needs through on-going education.  
  2. Accountability - We are the conscientious stewards of the Foundation's funds to ensure that they are put to the best use. Our donors and the legal community have confidence in our due diligence process and know that their funds will benefit our designated community partners. Our sustainability is guaranteed through our growing endowment.  
  3. Integrity - We maintain honesty in word and deed, civility in our interactions and communications, and demonstrate fairness to all. No conflict of interest.  
  4. Permanence - We preserve the longevity of the Foundation and ensure our legacy through the continual growth in our endowments.



1. Legal aid and public interest non-profits providing services within the county of San Diego are eligible to apply.


Eligible applicants can apply for two (2) seperate funds so long as the program or funding meets the guidelines:

1) General Grants - Deadline to Submit: 11:59pm (PST) - September 1
Applications that (1) facilitate and expand the availability of legal services (2) improve the administration of justice and the San Diego court system; and/or  (3) promote public understanding of the law.

2) Indigent Criminal Defense Fund - Deadline to Submit: 11:59pm (PST) - August 1
The Indigent Criminal Defense Fund provides support for indigent criminal defense programs, projects and activities that directly benefit indigent criminal defendants. Programs that are designed to deliver effective and efficient, high quality, ethical, conflict-free representation as well as projects and activities which will benefit accused persons who cannot afford to hire an attorney are considered approved purposes.

Below are examples of approved purposes that directly benefit indigent criminal defendants:

  • Educating, training and providing related services designed to assist appointed counsel more effectively represent indigent criminal defendants.
  • Providing indigent criminal defendants meaningful access to justice regardless of socioeconomic class.
  • Collaborating with other organizations and governmental bodies who work for the benefit of indigent criminal defendants.
  • Researching and disseminating studies regarding training for representing indigent criminal defendants, quality of representation and methods for improvement.
  • Identifying and recognizing the unique needs of indigent criminal defendants, and engaging in activities that provide solutions and services to meet those needs.
  • Assisting indigent criminal defendants with services to assist with all aspects of their case including possible sentencing to obtain a more just result.
  • Providing services to indigent criminal defendants which aid in their defense.  These services may be related to the defense such as expert witnesses, testing services etc. or be related to the defendant personally to aid in their defense.

Note: Funding will be provided for start-up projects or on-going program support. With prior approval from the SDCBF's Director of Administration, legal aid organizations may apply for operating support.


The San Diego County Bar Foundation is committed to supporting new organizations and getting new projects/programs off the ground. New organizations/programs are encouraged to apply, but need to effectively communicate their ability to successfully deliver a sustainable program that supports those in our community impacted by poverty, abuse or discrimination. 

If your organization has never applied for SDCBF funding, or has applied but never received funding, we require that a representative from you organization call to discuss the application prior to submission.


Generally, grant awards will be for a period not to exceed one year. The SDCBF may award renewal grants for projects that are on-going or take multiple years to accomplish. Grantees eligible for renewal will be required to meet and/or show significant progress toward the project's performance goals, as well as deliver the expected outcomes.


Grants will NOT be made in support of the following:

  • Organizations which are not tax exempt as described in section 509 (a) (1) and 170B (1) (a) of the Internal Revenue Code
  • Religious, Political or lobbying purposes
  • Organizations whose primary function is to allocate funds to other charitable organizations or projects
  • Projects outside of San Diego County
  • Loans


Because the SDCBF values the staff and volunteer time of grant seekers, we strongly encourage all applicants to call and discuss their proposal prior to submission.

Applications for the General Grant Cycle are due September 1, 2024

Applications for the Indigent Criminal Defense Fund are due August 1, 2024

NOTE: In line with our initial plan, this application year marks the final opportunity to apply for the ICD fund.

Grant Application Form