The Legal Services Corporation is a private, nonprofit corporation established by Congress in 1974 to provide funding for the provision of civil legal services to low-income persons. LSC awards grants to legal aid programs in order to serve every county in the United States, the District of Columbia, the U.S. territories (including American Samoa, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam), and an area that includes the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau.
Congress has adopted legislation mandating a system of competition for the award of LSC grants and contracts, which became effective April 1, 1996. Under this competitive process, LSC invites proposals from interested parties for the provision of civil legal services in service areas listed at grants.lsc.gov.
There are three types of service areas: basic field-general, basic field-Native American, and basic field-migrant. LSC seeks to fund legal aid programs that provide a full range of legal services throughout each service area, consistent with the LSC Act and appropriations laws. More information is available at grants.lsc.gov.
Currently, LSC awards basic field grants to 134 independent nonprofit legal aid programs and they typically close about one million cases each year involving households with 2.3 million people. The most common categories of cases handled by these legal aid programs are family, housing, income maintenance, consumer, health, and employment. Case types frequently encountered include evictions, debt collection, foreclosures, divorces, child custody, spousal abuse, child abuse or neglect, access to health care, and benefit claims such as unemployment, disability, food stamps, and public assistance.
Congress also provides funding for the LSC Technology Initiative Grants program (TIG), which seeks to harness the powers of computers, mobile devices and the Internet to broaden the reach of the valuable work performed by legal services practitioners. TIG has supported projects to develop, test and replicate technologies that improve client access to high-quality legal information and pro se assistance. It has also helped LSC-funded programs develop their technological infrastructure generally. More information is available at tig.lsc.gov.