Responsive grants enable community-focused legal navigation and supports

The Foundation granted over $1.8M to fund 25 Responsive grants in 2022.
December 14, 2022

Responsive grants enable community-focused legal navigation and supports

Two people with their backs to the camera and one person has their arm in a caring way over the person's shoulder

The Law Foundation of Ontario granted over $1.8M to fund 25 Responsive grants in 2022. Responsive grants are one time project grants up to $100K that support innovative, community-based ideas to improve access to justice. This year’s Responsive granting will enable the creation of a multitude of resources to help people navigate legal supports and find public legal information, with a focus on identifying and responding to the specific legal needs of underserved communities.

Navigating legal supports

The Survivors’ Secretariat was created by survivors of the Mohawk Institute at Six Nations of the Grand River to oversee the search for unmarked graves on the land associated with the Mohawk Institute, one of the longest running Residential “schools” in Canada. With a Responsive grant, the Secretariat will offer Six Nations community members a systems navigator resource to support individuals interviewed by the Police Task Force investigating the deaths of children at the Mohawk Institute. The navigator will explain the interview process and privacy considerations, provide progress updates, and coordinate referrals to survivor-specific services.

Angels of Hope Against Human Trafficking is a Sudbury-based organization that supports survivors of human trafficking in Northern Ontario. It will develop a systems navigator project to assist survivors through what can be a daunting and traumatic legal process. A court support worker will provide survivors with information about the court process, attend court proceedings with survivors, and provide referrals to counselling and other community supports. The project will also collaborate with the Sudbury Crown Attorney’s office to create public legal education brochures and fact sheets in English and French to prepare survivors for navigating the court system.

Public legal education and outreach

The Centre for Spanish Speaking Peoples Legal Clinic offers legal supports for Spanish speaking communities in Ontario. In response to the growing number of seniors living in isolation with limited access to legal resources, the clinic will create a multi-pronged outreach strategy to connect with and serve Spanish speaking seniors. The project will host in-person intake days at partner agencies, public legal education workshops, and Cafecitos, which are community gatherings where seniors can connect with lawyers in a fun and relaxed environment.

JusticeTrans is a nonprofit committed to advancing access to justice for Two Spirit, trans, non-binary, and gender nonconforming (2STNBGN) communities. It recently completed a legal needs assessment of the 2STNBGN community. It found that public legal education resources exist for the 2SLGBTQI+ community but fewer are tailored to the unique experiences and legal needs of 2STNBGN individuals. To help fill the gap, JusticeTrans will create arts-based public legal education resources geared to 2STNBGN people navigating discrimination, harassment, violence, and employment related issues. JusticeTrans will also deliver online and in-person workshops in partnership with The 519 and Kind Space.

Expanding learning

There are also newly funded Responsive projects that will conduct research and outreach to better understand and respond to unique communities’ legal needs.

Wilfrid Laurier University will research the experiences of and barriers that rural migrants with precarious status face in accessing legal help in southern Ontario. Those with precarious status could include farm and temporary workers, refugee claimants, international students, and people without immigration status. This research will give legal service providers, and others, more context when responding to the legal needs of migrant workers. The project will include academic articles, recommendations for practitioners, infographics, community presentations, and fact sheets in both Spanish and English.

The Ontario Nonprofit Network (ONN), in partnership with Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO), also a Foundation grantee, will focus on building the legal education and compliance of Ontario’s nonprofit sector. ONN and CLEO will expand their public education and legal needs’ assessment project to assist nonprofit organizations in the transition to the new Ontario Not-for-Profit Corporations Act, 2010. This Act came into force in 2021 and organizations have until October 2024 to ensure they comply with the new legislation. The project will deepen research into nonprofits’ legal needs and deliver a variety of informative and skills-building workshops and resources. 

2022 Responsive grants made

Angels of Hope Against Human Trafficking
RISE: Increasing Access to Justice for Survivors of Human Trafficking

Boys and Girls Club of Durham
Youth Court Access Initiative

Black Femme Legal
Black Femme Legal Pro Bono Clinic

Black Law Students’ Association of Canada
2023 BLSA Canada Conference

Canadian National Institute for the Blind Foundation
Bringing CNIB’s Y.E.L.L. Program to W. Ross Macdonald School

Centre for Spanish Speaking Peoples Legal Clinic
Access to Justice for Spanish Speaking Seniors

Christie Refugee Welcome Centre
Centre for Refugee Children – Legal Education Resources for UASCs and Refugee Children

Downtown Legal Services
Prison Outreach Project

Hispanic Development Council
Community Legal Information and Preventive Education for Spanish-speaking Latinos in Toronto

John Howard Society of Ontario
Building Systems of Community Practice to Address the Civil Legal Needs of Justice-Involved Ontarians

Community- and Arts-Based PLEI for Two Spirit, Trans, Non-binary, and Gender Nonconforming People in Ontario

Korean Legal Clinic
Korean Legal Clinic Empowerment Project

Law Commission of Ontario
Indigenous Environmental Accountability Project

National Associations Active in Criminal Justice
Plain Language Info-Sheets: Employment Rights and Criminal Records in each Canadian jurisdiction

Ontario Nonprofit Network
Building healthy public benefit nonprofits: A public legal education approach

Parry Sound Friendship Centre
PSFC Restorative Justice Program

Peacebuilders International (Canada)
Making a Difference: a Pre-Sentencing Assessment Program

Pro Bono Ontario
Creating a client-centred response to unmet legal needs

Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region
Rapid Response Sexual Assault Legal Advocate Pilot Program – Year 2

Survivors’ Secretariat
Justice Navigator

Thunder Bay Multicultural Association
Newcomer Legal Clinic

University of Toronto, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work
The Child Welfare Toolkit

University of Windsor, Faculty of Law
Health Justice Clinic in Mental Health & Addictions

Wilfrid Laurier University
Precarity, Everyday Lives, and Access to Justice: Precarious Status Migrants Seeking Legal Aid in Rural Southern Ontario

Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund
Applying innovative lessons from the pandemic to public legal education