The legal system has historically been civilization’s shared hope for accessing systematic justice. Regrettably, the COVID-19 pandemic has made judicial activity a challenge in terms of volume and logistics. Videoconferencing and online solutions have been a welcome tool, but so much more is needed as more businesses and individuals continue to struggle. Although litigation, is an appropriate way of handling many civil and criminal matters, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods have proved to be most effective in providing creative, compassionate, and timely solutions, especially where emotion or inequality exist. Additionally, though a long-term social problem in the United States and throughout the world, the injustice of racism, alongside the pandemic, has again come to light in the media and in our collective consciousness. Both of these forces challenge social structures and our identity as a nation.
The American Arbitration Association-International Centre For Dispute Resolution Foundation (AAA-ICDR Foundation) has been one of the few foundations funding ADR projects since 2015. Areas of funding include community dialogue, ADR research, education, mediation, arbitration, restorative justice, and other initiatives.
Current Grant Opportunities
The Foundation’s 2020 funding cycle is intended to make a significant contribution in two important areas now impacting American society. The Foundation intends to make one or two substantial grants, up to $250,000 in the following areas:
1) to make ADR processes more accessible and generally available or utilize them to improve traditional options for resolving disputes in the U.S. justice system and
2) create innovative and additional ways to engage citizens in meaningful dialogue with one another and/or with government authorities including the police to address long-standing racial discrimination in the U.S., such as differences in the use of force in interactions with people in communities on the basis of race.
Eligible programs must have the capability to become operational in a short period of time, be highly innovative and or impactful, serve a diverse and significant number of people, and make their work available for replication. The intent is that these projects will provide timely support for either pandemic related barriers to justice or for improving dialogue surrounding racial injustice. Interested organizations are required to submit a brief preliminary application by August 14, 2020.
The AAA-ICDR Foundation will select a limited number of applicants to draft proposals that are more detailed. Applications must meet the full requirements and description of the grant request. Following review of these initial descriptions, the Foundation will request a limited number of applicants to provide full proposals. All applications must be made online on the AAA-ICDR online portal.
“During this crisis, professionals in the field of conflict resolution can play a vital role in helping all communities across the country by expanding access to ADR processes and services,” said James R. Jenkins, Chair of the AAA-ICDR Foundation. “We are also pleased to provide much needed funds at a time when they can do the most good through projects that serve those most harmed by the pandemic, or that promote community engagement, dialogue and resolution of historical differences in the administration of Justice in the USA on the basis of race.”
The AAA-ICDR Foundation
As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, the AAA-ICDR Foundation has a mission to promote dispute resolution processes and support ADR through the funding of effective initiatives in the field of ADR. The AAA-ICDR Foundation has provided one of the few opportunities for organizations to apply for support for their innovative ADR programs and projects. Given the challenges of our world, the current funding for ADR accessibility in the U.S. and dialogue to address racial discrimination is a welcome and timely aid to our best and brightest ADR organizations and practitioners.
Some of the recipients of the grants past have included ABA Arbitration Competition, Big Mouth Productions, Asian Pacific American Dispute Resolution Centre, and Community Mediation Services of Central Ohio. There are also many other recipients of AAA-ICDR Foundation grants over the past few years and full descriptions of their work may be found on the foundation’s website www.aaaicdrfoundation.org.