Technology Initiative Grant Program

LSC Technology Initiative Grants seek to improve legal services delivery to the low-income population and to increase access by low-income persons to high quality legal services, to the judicial system, and to legal information.  

Technology can and must play a vital role in transforming service delivery so that all poor people in the United States with an essential civil legal need obtain some form of effective assistance.” - LSC’s Report of The Summit on the Use of Technology to Expand Access to Justice 

Overview

Since 2000, when Congress first appropriated special funds for the Technology Initiative Grants program, LSC has been a leader in the development and use of technology to more effectively meet the legal needs of low-income Americans.  

Over the past 19 years we have awarded nearly $65 million in grants for more than 700 projects that leverage technology to help meet the civil legal needs of low-income people. The amount of TIG funding available for the fiscal year 2019 will depend on the 2019 fiscal year appropriation to LSC from Congress. Under the current Continuing Resolution (CR) that expires February 15, 2019, LSC has partial funding at its FY 2018 level, which includes partial funding of TIG at a $4 million annual level. We are hopeful that Congress will pass another CR to continue funding LSC and the federal government at FY 2018 levels, or a full-year FY 2019 appropriation, by midnight February 15, 2019. If not, LSC will only have partial funding for TIG until further appropriations are enacted.

In 2018, 26 TIG projects received funding with a median funding amount of $118,272.

The key goals of the TIG program are to encourage grantees to use technology in innovative ways to: 

  1. Effectively and efficiently provide high-quality legal assistance to low-income persons and to promote access to the judicial system through legal information, advice, and representation; 
  2. Improve service delivery, quality of legal work, and management and administration of grantees; and 
  3. Develop, test, and replicate innovative strategies that can enable grantees and state justice communities to improve clients’ access to high-quality legal assistance through an integrated and well-managed technology system. 

TIG funding has provided LSC with a remarkable opportunity to explore new ways to serve eligible persons, to help build legal aid programs' capacities, and to support the efforts of pro bono attorneys. These projects use a broad range of technologies -- including mobile, cloud computing, data analysis, and automated document assembly -- to make the delivery of legal services in the United States more efficient and effective.  

Eligibility

TIGs are only available to current LSC basic field grant recipients. Although other entities are not eligible to apply, they are encouraged to participate as project partners. 

Applicants must be up to date according to the milestone schedule on all existing TIG projects prior to submitting a Letter of Intent (LOI) or have requested and received an adjustment to the original milestone schedule. TIGs will not be awarded to any applicant unless the applicant has made satisfactory progress on all TIGs previously awarded to it and is not currently subject to any short funding (i.e., less than one year) on basic field grants.  

LSC recipients that have had a previous TIG terminated for failure to provide timely reports and submissions are not eligible to receive a TIG for three years after their earlier grant was terminated. This policy does not apply to applicants that worked with LSC to end a TIG early after an unsuccessful project implementation resulting from technology limitations, a failed proof of concept, or other reasons outside of the applicant’s control. 

How to Apply

The TIG program has a two-step application process.

Step 1. Submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) 

The TIG application process begins with the submission of a brief (2-5 page) letter of intent (LOI) to apply for funding. The submission of a LOI enables a prospective applicant to get feedback on their project idea. We will invite full proposals for those projects that have a reasonable chance of success in the grant competition process based on LSC’s analysis of the information provided in the LOI. Prospective applicants are encouraged to contact TIG staff with any questions or to get information about prior TIG projects. 

In 2019, LSC is accepting LOIs in three application categories: 1) Innovations and Enhancements, 2) Replication and Adaptation, and 3) Technology Improvement Projects. The Technology Improvement Projects category allows organizations that have struggled with their technology infrastructure to apply for up to $25,000 in funding to conduct an IT technology assessment, a business process improvement initiative, or a technology planning project. 

In addition to the application categories, the area of interest for 2019 is "Projects That Develop a Strong Foundation of Technologies for Self-Represented Litigants." This area of interest seeks proposals to strengthen the foundation of resources and tools available for self-represented litigants and ensure that more cutting-edge innovations meet their promise. Applicants should discuss how their projects will create the foundation necessary for future innovations for self-represented litigants, including demonstrating how they align with any existing e-filing or triage portal plans in their state. Proposals should also discuss the concrete steps the organization will take to develop and enhance its foundational resources. Applicants should look at tools such as the TIG-supported LawHelp Interactive platform and A2J Author – along with newer options such as the open source docassemble and docassemble-powered solutions – that provide the resources and support necessary to pursue a successful document-automation project and create simple but useful decision trees that generate the forms, letters, and checklists necessary to help self-represented litigants. LSC's Statewide Website Assessment and Stanford Legal Design Lab's Better Legal Internet provide similar guidance for creating high-quality websites with content that is appropriately tagged and accessible to a range of users across different devices.

Download the Request for Letters of Intent to Apply for 2019 TIG Funding for more guidance on the program requirements and application process.

LSC hosted a webinar on the 2019 TIG cycle on February 8, 2019. Please click here to access the recording of the 2019 TIG informational webinar. This webinar reviewed the TIG cycle rules and requirements, the initial Letter of Intent process, and TIG's area of interest under which applicants may elect to submit applications. View the slides from this webinar by clicking here to download the presentation.

LSC has also posted three sample letters of intent below. These documents are intended to provide general guidance to applicants and may not meet all requirements.

Letters of Intent are due on Friday, March 8, 2019. They must be submitted using the LSC Grants online system. Invitations to submit a full application will be sent out in April. 

Step 2. Submit a Full Application 

LSC invites successful LOI applicants to submit a full application in the LSC Grants online system. In 2018, applicants submitting in the Innovations and Improvements or Replication and Adaptation categories used the instructions found here. Applicants that submitted in the Technology Improvement Project category used the instructions found here. Below is a recording of the 2018 webinar for full TIG applicants.

Applications are submitted using LSC’s online grant system and were due on June 4, 2018. 

Sample Grant Applications 

Applicants can utilize these sample application components when preparing their funding requests. These documents are intended to provide general guidance to applicants and may not meet all requirements for the current TIG cycle. Programs should review the full application instructions before they begin drafting. 

Grant Application Resources 

Additionally, the following TIG-funded toolkits cover important legal aid technologies and may help applicants develop successful proposals:

Reporting, Compliance Requirements & Applicable Law

TIGs are subject to the same rules and regulations as other grants from LSC. For guidance on the operation and responsibilities of LSC and its grantees, review the Rules & Regulations page on the LSC website. TIG awards are also subject to TIG Grant Assurances found on the TIG Compliance page. See also the TIG Reporting section under Grantee Guidance for information on:

Awards

Submission Deadlines

  • Letter of Intent Notice Issued: February 1, 2019
  • Letters of Intent Due: March 8, 2019
  • Invitations for Full Applications: April 26, 2019
  • Full Applications Due: June 7, 2019
  • Final Award Announcements: Fall 2019

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