Human Services

East Bay Community Law Center

Justice through education and advocacy


Berkeley, CA


EBCLC’s MISSION To promote justice and build a community that is more healthy, secure, productive and hopeful by providing: - Legal services and policy advocacy that are responsive to the needs of low-income communities, and - Law training that prepares future attorneys to be skilled and principled advocates who are committed to addressing the causes and conditions of racial and economic injustice and poverty.

Ruling Year


Principal Officer

Ms. Zoë Polk

Main Address

1950 University Ave St 200

Berkeley, CA 94704 USA

Formerly Known As

Berkeley Community Law Center


law, legal services, advocacy, welfare, income, HIV, health, immigration, housing, homeless, homelessness, community re-entry, consumer rights





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Human Service Organizations (P20)

Graduate, Professional(Separate Entities) (B50)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Sign in or create an account to view Form(s) 990 for 2018, 2017 and 2016.
Register now

Social Media

Programs + Results

What we aim to solve

The East Bay Community Law Center seeks to address the underlying causes of poverty and economic and racial inequality in order to increase justice and improve opportunities in the areas of economic security, education, health and welfare, housing and immigration. Inequitable access to justice, including lack of access to legal resources that leads to poverty, racial inequality, and poor health/life outcomes for families. EBCLC aims to close the justice gap through accessible legal services and by uplifting the voices of the most impacted people to create systemic change.

Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Housing Program

Health & Welfare Program

Economic Security & Opportunity (ESO) Program

Immigration Program

Education, Defense & Justice for Youth (EDJY) Program

Where we work

Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have they accomplished so far and what's next?

The East Bay Community Law Center’s mission is to promote justice and build a community that is more secure, productive, healthy, and hopeful by providing: (1) legal services and policy advocacy that are responsive to the needs of low-income communities, and (2) law training that prepares future attorneys to be skilled and principled advocates who are committed to addressing the causes and conditions of racial and economic injustice and poverty.

The East Bay Community Law Center provides legal advocacy through our five program areas as follows: Housing– designed to prevent homelessness in the East Bay. EBCLC represents clients in civil eviction defense proceedings and in administrative matters arising under the jurisdiction of the Berkeley and Oakland rent stabilization ordinances, assists pro per clients at the county courthouse, conducts outreach and education workshops for tenants, and develops affirmative lawsuits to enforce habitability standards and other applicable housing laws. Immigration– provides intensive immigration services, including U visas, DACA, Post-Conviction Relief, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, family petitions, naturalization, and deportation defense for individuals in detention and post-detention proceedings, helping clients to get released from detention and then file applications for legal status based on political asylum, domestic violence, and family petitions, or for being a crime victim or abandoned juvenile. Health & Welfare– a multidisciplinary practice addressing the complex and varied health-related legal needs of low-income families and disabled individuals. EBCLC provides assistance in multiple areas of law, including public benefits appeals, and housing habitability, serving clients through our HIV/AIDS Law Project, Public Benefits & Justice (PB&J) Clinic and our Medical-Legal Partnerships. Education, Defense & Justice for Youth (EDJY) – provides special education representation to young people with disabilities who are in or are at risk of entering the delinquency system. EDJY represents clients at Individualized Education Plan meetings, in juvenile court, and in filing administrative complaints to hold schools accountable for meeting their needs. Through our Education Advocacy Clinic, EDJY makes legal services accessible to students in very low-income middle and high schools. EDJY also operates the Youth Defense Clinic, which provides access to a range of legal services for young people caught at the intersection of the juvenile justice and education systems in Alameda County. The goal of the Youth Defense Clinic is to stop the school-to-prison pipeline on an individual, institutional, and community level by addressing both the causes and consequences of involvement in the juvenile justice system. Economic Security & Opportunity – This program is composed of three clinics. The Clean Slate Clinic provides assistance to people seeking to remedy their criminal records. The Consumer Justice Clinic provides services to low-income consumers facing debt collection, student loans, predatory lending, and consumer scam issues. The Community Economic Justice Clinic promotes the equitable development of a people-oriented economy through the advancement of community and cooperative ownership of business and housing in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color.

EBCLC closes the justice gap by providing high-quality legal services to low-income clients, as well as clinical education opportunities for law students. Since opening 31 years ago, EBCLC has grown to become the largest provider of free legal services in Alameda County, serving more than 8,000 clients and training over 150 students annually. In order to promote justice, EBCLC’s direct legal service delivery and clinical education methodology tackles the many interrelated causes that contribute to injustice. Our holistic representation extends beyond simply assisting a client with a legal issue. Instead, we ensure that all of our clients’ legal and social service needs – however complex and far-reaching – are addressed. Our community education and outreach work has the broadest reach in the neighborhoods we serve and is an integral part of our multimodal approach to community lawyering. With limited-scope assistance, EBCLC attorneys and staff guide clients through complex legal systems and help create individualized road maps tailored to the issues at hand. Informed by our direct services work with clients and community partners, we engage in policy advocacy at the local and state levels to ensure broad, long lasting impact. From drafting bills and supporting legislation to advising government agencies on key policy changes, we gather knowledge from our direct legal advocacy and apply it to impact systemic change.

It is EBCLC’s strongly-held hypothesis that through our unique combination of direct service, policy advocacy, and clinical legal education, we can positively impact the economic stability and social resilience of low-income people, especially Black/Indigenous/People of Color. On an ongoing basis, we use our client management information system, LegalServer, to implement an evaluation to assess the quality of services provided, follow up with clients to identify the real impact of our work, and coordinate discussions with coalition partners to identify strategic improvements to our policy advocacy. We regularly survey clients about their experiences working with staff and law student advocates, their ability to access our services, and any challenges they faced in receiving quality advocacy to meet their needs at EBCLC. For clients who receive legal consultations, we inquire if the advice of their advocate was successful in empowering the client to take the next steps in meeting their legal goals. If this next step was not taken, we inquire as to whether EBCLC could have adjusted our service delivery to help them to overcome whatever obstacle arose. Where possible, we incorporate findings from these evaluative methods into our clinical supervision model, providing law students with concrete, “client-centric” feedback. If we find that clients have consistently had challenges in accessing our services due to barriers such as clinic location, appointment time, or confusion around what services are offered, we do whatever is possible to update our outreach materials and adjust our service delivery to meet the community’s needs. In terms of evaluating our policy advocacy goals, we work to ascertain whether our coalitions were able to mobilize sufficient support to pass local and state legislation that we have helped to sponsor, and whether the final versions of these bills stayed true to our intentions. If we were not successful, we coordinate coalition calls and conversations with impacted movement leaders to identify the points at which we could have applied more pressure to lawmakers and strategize for our next steps. If we are successful, we facilitate calls with the appropriate coalitions to discuss next steps in monitoring implementation and establish a system for sharing our clients’ experiences in relation to newly passed legislation with our statewide partners. Finally, we reach out to government officials to offer technical assistance in adjusting implementation to better serve the needs of the people we work on behalf of.

In addition to serving more than 8,000 clients annually for the past few years, EBCLC’s most significant recent developments have come in response to the ongoing economic crisis for low-income individuals, families, and neighborhoods in the Bay Area. Our safety net programs have expanded as we have centered the voices of clients in designing and modifying services. At the heart of EBCLC’s approach to tackling the social determinants of justice is combining legal expertise and innovation with high-impact cross-sectoral partnerships. Two recent examples are: Medical-Legal Partnership: our Health & Welfare program designed and continues to operate in partnerships with Children’s Hospital Oakland, Highland Hospital, and community health clinics to ensure community access to health and wellness. By partnering closely with healthcare providers, and by training early-career medical professionals to screen for health-related legal issues, we have fully integrated legal services into the holistic healthcare programs implemented at these sites. Evaluating the health outcomes of our MLP patient-clients has led us to resolutely affirm the presiding assertion in the direct services sector that MLPs are the single most effective way to stabilize health and security for low-income people. School-Based Immigration Services: building on the success of our medical-legal partnership model, in 2014, we designed a School-Based Immigration Services project. By providing on-campus immigration legal remedy screenings and taking on clients’ multi-year cases for full representation, we have supported thousands of students and their families in obtaining work visas, securing legal status, and reuniting family members. We have replicated this model at 11 Oakland elementary to high schools, at UC Berkeley, and at multiple East Bay community colleges. Our objectives include continuing to pursue policy change advocacy, primarily by elevating the stories of impacted community members. Because of EBCLC’s robust direct service model and the trust we have established with movement-building groups, we are uniquely positioned to drive real policy change. For example, while our Housing team fights on the frontlines of the anti-displacement movement by representing tenants under siege, our Community Economic Justice team leads the fight for permanently affordable housing through city government partnerships and grassroots organizing.

External Reviews



East Bay Community Law Center

Need more info on this nonprofit?

Need more info on this nonprofit?

FREE: Gain immediate access to the following:

  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2018, 2017 and 2016
  • A Pro report is also available for this organization.

See what's included


The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Need more info?

FREE: Gain immediate access to the following:

  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2018, 2017 and 2016
  • A Pro report is also available for this organization.

See what's included

Board Leadership Practices

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?


Organizational Demographics

In order to support nonprofits and gain valuable insight for the sector, GuideStar worked with D5—a five-year initiative to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in philanthropy—in creating a questionnaire. This section is a voluntary questionnaire that empowers organizations to share information on the demographics of who works in and leads organizations. To protect the identity of individuals, we do not display sexual orientation or disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff. Any values displayed in this section are percentages of the total number of individuals in each category (e.g. 20% of all Board members for X organization are female).

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Race & Ethnicity


Sexual Orientation

This organization reports that it does not collect this information.


This organization reports that it does not collect this information.

Diversity Strategies

We track retention of staff, board, and volunteers across demographic categories
We track income levels of staff, senior staff, and board across demographic categories
We track the age of staff, senior staff, and board
We track the diversity of vendors (e.g., consultants, professional service firms)
We have a diversity committee in place
We have a diversity manager in place
We have a diversity plan
We use other methods to support diversity
Diversity notes from the nonprofit
EBCLC works toward making our staff, student volunteers, and Board of Directors reflect the diversity of our client communities. People of color serve in every capacity in the organization and on the Board, including in supervisory and leadership positions. Many EBCLC staff members are bilingual, with capacity in major languages found in the East Bay, including Spanish, Vietnamese, and Cantonese. Importantly, several staff members are former clients or come from impacted communities. EBCLC is proud to be an affirmative action employer, and actively seeks and recruits qualified staff, students, vendors, Board members, and other volunteers from diverse backgrounds. We have made and will continue to make diversity a top priority in hiring, contracting, and service delivery.