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Grantseeking Resources

A common question from law students and recent graduates is how to fund a public interest career. By necessity, graduating students have become more entrepreneurial in their thinking, and have come to us for assistance in creating opportunities for themselves. More and more, students are seeking alternate funding to support a project or create a position. This article will explore the resources for assisting students in seeking those funds outside the traditional legal fellowships and fellowships for research such as the Fulbright Grant or policy work such as the Fulbright-Clinton Public Policy Fellowship.

Guidance for Grantseekers:

Seeking a grant requires particularized knowledge and some specialized skills.  The most important step in grantseeking is research.  From the broad to the narrow, it takes a bit of time to determine which organizations have the capacity and willingness to fund the work a student wishes to pursue.  There are a number of resources that students can access directly, which can get them started on their research.  However, to really sift through the variety of programs takes assistance.  Advising students to seek out specialized guidance will be critical to their success.  While law students are trained to write concisely and well, grant or proposal writing is unlike any writing a law student has done previously (unless, of course, they have previous direct experience).  There is most certainly an art to asking for money in this context. Similar to drafting a fellowship application, a successful grant proposal will include review and input from individuals who have successfully attained funding. 

A crucial, but often overlooked resource for this guidance is the law school or university’s grants office.  The primary role of this office is to support the university's faculty and student research, scholarship, and strategic projects. The office will generally assist faculty, students, and staff in their efforts to find and achieve funding. A key function of the office is to research and identify funding opportunities, develop and review proposals, interpret guidelines, and contact and establish relationships with grant-making organizations. These offices are a wealth of information on funding sources and guidelines. While the focus is often finding funding for faculty research, the staff are continually creatively thinking about ways to help individuals achieve their funding goals. They can also provide helpful resources such as sample budgets, business plans, application instructions, and most importantly, grant writing guidance. Increasingly, these offices are offering assistance to students seeking funding outside the research context.  Considering contacting your office to host a program on funding research or grantwriting to introduce your students to this resource.

General Tips, News and Sources of Funding:

Research is key – both general and specific. Below is a list of resources to help grant seekers with that research. For those that require subscriptions, the grants or development office at the law school or university-at-large may already subscribe to these resources.

General Funding Research and Philanthropy News:

Council on Foundations: an active and diverse network of professionals working together for effective, impactful, innovative, and collaborative philanthropy.

Foundation Center: resources include the Foundation Directory Online, which is a searchable database of more than 140,000 grant-makers updated weekly.

Fundsnet Services: provides resources and information about grants, fundraising, philanthropy, foundations and 501(c)(3) non-profits organizations to those in need of funding and research for their philanthropic efforts and missions.

Grant Advisor Plus: a source of information on grant, research, and fellowship opportunities for U.S. institutions of higher education and their faculty. The online version includes access to a newsletter in Acrobat PDF format, database searches, deadline listings with extensive hyperlinks, funding sources, and application tips.

GrantStation: provides tools for finding new grant sources and writing winning grant proposals.

GuideStar: is the world's largest source of information on nonprofit organizations.

Grant Writing Assistance and Listservs:

About.Com Guide to Charitable Organizations: a resource for helping grantseekers learn how to search for grant opportunities and write grant proposals.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance: contains detailed program descriptions for over 2,000 Federal assistance programs. an online resource for 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations seeking grant funding.

Grant Writing USA: presents two-day grants writing and management classes throughout the nation annually. These trainings are applicable to nonprofit agencies and organizations applying for and receiving grants across all disciplines.

Innonet: evaluative tools for creating social change.

Philanthropy News Digest: a weekly digest of philanthropy news including alerts regarding funding opportunities and job.

Federal Funding Sources:

The place to start in researching federal funding is There a grankseeker can determine eligibility for grants, get tips on applications, find answers to program-specific questions, and sign up for automatic notifications of federal deadlines and funding opportunities. Other sources are listed below.  The federal government offers an array of grants on a number of subjects. When searching federal opportunities, it is best to begin broad and narrow as the student becomes more familiar with the process.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance: contains detailed program descriptions for over 2,000 Federal assistance programs.

Department of Agriculture

Department of Education

Department of Justice

Department of the Interior

National Archives and Records Administration

National Endowment for the Arts

National Endowment for the Humanities

National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC)

National Institutes of Health

Smithsonian Office of Fellowships

United States Institute of Peace (grants)

State and local governments can also be a source for funding opportunities, particularly around policy issues.  For instance, the DC government has an Office of Partnerships and Grant Services, which has a myriad of resources for grantseekers.  A state-by-state list of government grants offices is available in the Financing Your Public Service Career section of PSJD’s Resource Center.


Reprinted from NALP Bulletin, December 2016. 2016 National Association for Law Placement, Inc.® (NALP®) All rights reserved. This article may be printed for personal use only. Any reproduction, retransmission or republication of all or part of this material is expressly prohibited unless NALP or the copyright owner has granted prior written consent. For reprint permission contact the NALP office at (202) 835-1001 or