Law Center Incubator


What is the Law Center Incubator?

The Sustainable Economies Law Center (Law Center) aims to support people across the U.S. in launching nonprofit law centers that support community resilience and grassroots economic empowerment. We believe that every community should have access to legal services, legal education, and policy advocacy tools to enable communities to develop their own sustainable sources of food, housing, energy, water, and jobs. We also believe that the nonprofit law centers providing these services can help catalyze the movement toward a more just and resilient society if they too adopt policies that adhere to democratic governance and equitable pay principles.  

To date, we have provided sponsorship and administrative support to:

And on an informal basis, we have provided support or mentorship to:

We look forward to supporting the launch of many more nonprofit law centers through this new program.

What Kind of Support Does the Incubator Provide?

The Sustainable Economies Law Center aims to provide the following support to participants in the program:

  • Mentorship and training on a variety of nonprofit development matters

  • Support with grant research and grant writing

  • Help with making connections and introductions to potential supporters, funders, and collaborators

  • Facilitating peer-to-peer learning opportunities among participants

  • Growing the visibility and credibility of the new law center through our various communication channels, such as newsletters, website, and social media platforms

Who Should Apply?

We invite proposals from individuals and groups seeking to launch new nonprofit law centers with our support. We invite applications to support nonprofit law centers that are regionally focused (such as the “Alabama Community Resilience Law Center”) or topically focused (such as the “Food Cooperative Legal Support Center”). Although the goal of this program is to help establish long-term or permanent law centers in every community, we also invite applicants to apply for support for temporary projects, such as a one-year series of events.

How to Apply? 

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, with the first cohort starting Fall 2017.

Application for support under this program will be a two-step process. To get started, send the application materials requested under Step 1 to [email protected].

Step 1 - Provide us with the following:

1. The Plan: A 3-5 page plan summarizing the purpose and goals of the law center, the need for such a law center, a timeline for a proposed launch and initial and projected activities, any individuals, in addition to the project lead(s), who might be involved, and the reasons why you are seeking support from the Sustainable Economies Law Center.

2. Project lead(s): A bio and resume of the individual(s) leading the development of the organization.

Step 2 – We will review the plan and will invite some applicants to proceed to the second step to discuss the plan with us, then assemble and provide the following. The goal of this step is to ensure that there is a potential community of support to help the new law center thrive.

1. The Board: The names and bios of 2-4 individuals who have agreed, or who you intend to ask, to provide basic oversight over the work of the new law center. If needed, we are happy to work with the applicant to identify potential board members from within the community.

2. Advisory Board: The names and bios of three or more individuals who you have asked and have agreed, or who you intend to ask and believe will agree, to serve on an Advisory Board for the center, meaning that they would, at minimum, be available to answer questions and offer advice on an as-needed basis, and that they would meet at least twice with the project lead(s) during the first year to provide input on the development of the project. If needed, we are happy to work with the applicant to identify potential Advisory Board members from within our community.

3. Democratic Governance and Equitable Pay Principles: Any additional detail on how the new law center will incorporate and implement democratic governance and equitable-pay principles.

4. Potential Collaborators and Volunteers: Names and bios/descriptions of any organizations or individuals that may collaborate with or volunteer for the new law center.

5. Time Commitment and Initial Funding: Information about the time that the project lead(s) will be able to dedicate to the project and, if applicable, information about whether project lead(s) have other sources of income that enable them to launch this project while doing other work.

6. Projected Budget and Fundraising Strategy: A detailed description of funding needs and the fundraising strategy the new law center intends to use to raise those funds. If needed, we are happy to work with the applicant to identify potential funding sources.

7. Any additional information: This could include, but is not limited to, any website and communication plans, or letters of support from potential board members, advisory board members, collaborators, or volunteers. 


Thanks to our Partners and Collaborators: