Impact Fund Winter Grants Respond to National Trends of Xenophobia and War on Poor


Berkeley, CA 01.13.16 – The Impact Fund, the nation’s only legal foundation dedicated to advancing the use of impact litigation as a tool to achieve economic, environmental and social justice, has just made grants totaling $119,500 in its winter cycle to fund ten lawsuits to protect the rights of marginalized communities threatened by uncaring corporate interests and small-minded government.

“While our mandate is economic, environmental and social justice, this round focuses on the wave of xenophobia grabbing national headlines and the insidious war on the poor and homeless,” said Impact Fund Executive Director, Jocelyn Larkin.

Hardest hit are those with additional barriers to accessing the justice system, such as children and people with disabilities. “The grant from the Impact Fund will help us directly address Arizona's dangerous foster care system, putting the state on a path to significantly improve its services for abused and neglected children.” said Sandy Santana, Executive Director of Children’s Rights. In Ohio, another grant will, ensure that all Ohio children with disabilities have the educational services they need to become full and equal members of society and enjoy the rights and opportunities of all people,” said Michael Kirkman of Disability Rights Ohio.

The Impact Fund also awarded a grant to the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) to take legal action against an egregious Texas law passed in June 2015 (HB 11) that creates a new crime for encouraging undocumented immigrants in the state to remain in the U.S. This legal action has the potential to forcefully challenge Texas’s recent anti-immigrant streak during a dangerous time of reemerging xenophobia nationally,” said Nicholas Espíritu, Staff Attorney at NILC. Muslim Advocates has also received a grant to challenge the NYPD’s post 911 surveillance programs targeting American citizens purely on the basis of their religious affiliation.

In Rhode Island, a grant is being made to fund a groundbreaking class action lawsuit on behalf of low-income, medically vulnerable utility consumers whose health and safety are threatened by illegal gas and electric shut offs. The Impact Fund's support is critical for our efforts to achieve meaningful reform of a broken system that affects more than 3,000 households throughout our State." Said Robert McCreanor, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Center for Justice.

Other grants are being made to fight for clean water for low-income residents in Tulare (CA), fair housing in Richmond (VA), and a homeless shelter in Fullerton (CA), and to stop environmental racism in Detroit (MI).

Michael Caesar, chair of the Impact Fund’s Grant Advisory Committee said: Around half of these cases are class actions, where a remedy for injustice might not otherwise be possible.”

Letters of inquiry for the Impact Fund’s spring grant making cycle are due January 28.


For more information and photography, contact:

Teddy Basham-Witherington 415.845.1206 /




About The Impact Fund

The Impact Fund was founded in December 1992, to help advance economic, environmental and social justice through the courts. Originally envisioned as a purely grant making organization, the Impact Fund has, to date, made a total of 594 grants totaling $5,925,849. Click here for Grant Criteria and information about Grant Deadlines. The Impact Fund’s financial year runs July 1 – June 30 and in FY15 a total of 21 grants were made, totaling $272,000.

Since its inception, the Impact Fund has grown to include both advocacy and education in the range of its services. Today, the Impact Fund litigates a small number of cases directly, authors eight to ten amicus briefs each year, provides a substantial amount of pro-bono consulting and presents an annual conference for plaintiff-side class action practitioners, a training institute for budding public interest law practitioners, and numerous seminars and webinars. In short, the Impact Fund is a national clearinghouse for public interest impact litigation. Click here for the 2015 Annual Report.

What Is Impact Litigation?

Impact Litigation is a lawsuit, usually a class action, where the outcome of the case will advance economic, environmental and/or social justice for a community or a large group, which may not have access to the courts on its own.

Grants Made In Summer Cycle

Grantee                                                                        Amount                  Brief Description

Children’s Rights                                                       $10,000                Reform of Foster Care System, AZ

Connecticut Legal Rights Project                                $10,000                 Disability Rights, CT

Disability Rights Ohio                                                $15,000                 Disability Rights, OH

Leadership Council For Justice & Accountability          $  2,500                 Clean Water, CA

Legal AID Justice Center                                            $17,500                  Economic Justice, VA

Muslim Advocates                                                    $20,000                  Religious Discrimination, NY

National Immigration Law Center                              $  7,000                  Immigrant Rights, TX

Rhode Island Center for Justice                                 $10,000                  Economic Justice, RI

Sugar Law Center For Economic & Social Justice         $17,500                  Environmental Racism, MI

Western Center on Law & Poverty                             $10,000                    Economic Justice, CA


                        Total                         $119,500