2016 Pro Bono Innovation Grant Recipients

September 29, 2016

WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation announced today that 11 legal aid organizations will receive grants to support innovations in pro bono legal services for low-income clients.

The grants from LSC’s Pro Bono Innovation Fund are intended to encourage new and robust pro bono efforts and partnerships to serve more low-income people.

“We are grateful to Congress for establishing the Pro Bono Innovation 

Many of the LSC-funded projects will use technology to connect low-income populations to the services they need and to train volunteers on how to provide legal information effectively. Other projects will focus on building partnerships between LSC-funded legal aid programs and the community, law schools, and other local service providers. The goaFund to increase pro bono support for civil legal aid,” said LSC President Jim Sandman. “The grants we are funding will allow more pro bono lawyers to serve the elderly and the disabled, to help remove legal barriers to employment, and to increase legal services in rural areas.”l of all the projects is to engage pro bono lawyers and other volunteers to leverage LSC’s federal funding and increase the legal resources available to low-income Americans. They offer impactful, replicable solutions to persistent challenges in the current pro bono delivery system.

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN) congratulated Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services for receiving an award. “All Americans deserve equal access to justice, regardless of their background or income level,” Klobuchar said. “This grant from the Legal Services Corporation will help people across southern Minnesota receive the due process owed to them through our legal system.”  

U.S. Representative David Young (IA-3) also applauded a Pro Bono Innovation Fund award that will support the work of Iowa Legal Aid. “As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I work to ensure grant funding like this is available to communities across the country, and I’m pleased this in particular will benefit folks in Iowa communities who need it the most,” Young said.

The creation of the fund was recommended by LSC’s Pro Bono Task Force in 2012. Congress allocated $2.5 million for it in LSC’s FY 2014 appropriation and increased that allocation to $4 million in LSC’s FY 2015 appropriation. It remained at $4 million in LSC’s FY 2016 appropriation.

The recipients of 2016 Pro Bono Innovation Fund grants are:

Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles — $413,088

Legal Aid Society of San Diego — $371,497

D.C. Neighborhood Legal Services Program — $386,825

Atlanta Legal Aid Society — $421,310

Indiana Legal Services — $325,837

Iowa Legal Aid — $364,709

Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services — $286,000

Legal Services Law Line of Vermont — $246,034

Virginia Legal Aid Society — $327,899

Legal Aid of West Virginia — $279,028 

Legal Action of Wisconsin — $377,773

 

Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles Receives $413,088 Pro Bono Innovation Fund Grant, $159,695 Technology Initiative Grant 

WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation announced today that the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles will receive a 24-month $413,088 Pro Bono Innovation Fund grant and a $159,695 Technology Initiative Grant. Both projects will focus on expanding access to justice for limited-English proficient clients.

“We are grateful to Congress for establishing the Pro Bono Innovation Fund to increase pro bono support for civil legal aid,” said Legal Services Corporation President Jim Sandman. “The grants we are funding will allow more pro bono lawyers to serve the elderly and the disabled, to help remove legal barriers to employment, and to increase legal services in rural areas.”

California is one of the most linguistically diverse states in the United States, with more than 220 languages spoken. Forty-three percent of Californians speak a language other than English in their homes. For Californians with limited English proficiency, understanding legal documents and participating meaningfully in court proceedings is a challenge.

The Pro Bono Innovation Fund grant will support the creation of an online language access pro bono training tool for attorneys and interpreters. It will also connect interpreters with pro bono attorneys. By improving and sharing volunteer resources online, the project will better serve limited­-English proficient individuals in communities across the state. It may also act as a model for other legal services organizations serving linguistically diverse client populations in other areas.

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein congratulated Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles for the award, as well as Legal Aid Society of San Diego, which also received funding. “Low-income clients are often unable to resolve legal disputes and achieve justice if they can’t afford a lawyer,” Feinstein said. “The grants awarded to the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles and Legal Aid Society of San Diego, totaling more than $962,000, will help ensure Californians with limited financial resources, particularly those who are elderly, disabled or have limited English proficiency can access legal advice and representation. Additional clients will be served and pro-bono attorneys will be better able to assist clients in their native language. Whether or not someone is treated fairly in our justice system should not depend on the ability to pay.”

Members of the California congressional delegation also applauded the grant:

Rep. Xavier Becerra (CA-34): "These two grants will allow residents with limited English proficiency in my district to get legal assistance from the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles in their native language. I take pride in knowing more hardworking families will get the help they need and deserve!”

Rep. Janice Hahn (CA-44): “For almost 90 years, the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles has done amazing work providing low income families with free legal services.  With this grant funding, LAFLA will be able to better bridge language barriers and become more accessible to their clients online.  I have been grateful for the work LAFLA has done for many of my constituents and their commitment to fulfilling the promise of justice for all. “

Rep. Adam Schiff (CA-28): “I am thrilled to hear that the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles will be the recipient of Pro Bono and Technology grants that will help the Foundation significantly increase access to legal services for people with limited English proficiency. This is a well-deserved opportunity for the Foundation, which for decades has worked tirelessly to assist low-income communities access housing benefits, fight discrimination in the workplace, and navigate our complex immigration system—among many other services. These grants will go a long way towards expanding outreach efforts to those who are underserved and often unable to obtain legal help because of language barriers.”

Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles is one of 11 recipients of LSC’s $4 million Pro Bono Innovation Fund, a competitive grant program that invests in projects that identify and promote replicable innovations in pro bono for low-income legal aid clients. This is the third year LSC has awarded Pro Bono Innovation Fund grants.

The second project, funded by a Technology Initiative Grant (TIG), seeks to develop an online intake system in six languages to better connect with eligible clients. The online intake will be accessible to prospective clients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by smartphone, tablet, and computer using the A2J Author 5.0 platform. The system will be able to provide pertinent legal information and resources to prospective clients as they make their way through the online intake system.

LSC’s TIG program supports the use of technology to increase access by low-income persons to high quality legal services, the judicial system, and legal information. In 2016, LSC will award approximately $4 million for TIG projects. 

 


Legal Aid Society of San Diego Receives $371,497 Pro Bono Innovation Fund Grant 

WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation announced today that Legal Aid Society of San Diego will receive a 24-month $371,497 Pro Bono Innovation Fund grant to support the In-Home Supportive Services Pro Bono Project.

“We are grateful to Congress for establishing the Pro Bono Innovation Fund to increase pro bono support for civil legal aid,” said Legal Services Corporation President Jim Sandman. “The grants we are funding will allow more pro bono lawyers to serve the elderly and the disabled, to help remove legal barriers to employment, and to increase legal services in rural areas.”

The In-Home Supportive Services Pro Bono Project will provide advice and representation to elderly and disabled clients receiving in-home assistance. In-Home Supportive Services is a statewide program providing in-home care to low-income disabled individuals, many of whom are elderly. The program allows disabled individuals to stay in their homes rather than be forced into more expensive settings such as nursing homes or board-and-care facilities. The new pro bono project will use volunteer attorneys to assist clients seeking help from In-Home Supportive Services. It will also pilot the use of a new case referral and placement system that will increase the efficiency of the process, resulting in more clients being provided services.

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein congratulated Legal Aid Society of San Diego on the award, as well as Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, which also received funding. “Low-income clients are often unable to resolve legal disputes and achieve justice if they can’t afford a lawyer,” Feinstein said. “The grants awarded to the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles and Legal Aid Society of San Diego, totaling more than $962,000, will help ensure Californians with limited financial resources, particularly those who are elderly, disabled or have limited English proficiency can access legal advice and representation. Additional clients will be served and pro-bono attorneys will be better able to assist clients in their native language. Whether or not someone is treated fairly in our justice system should not depend on the ability to pay.”

Members of the California congressional delegation also applauded the grant:

Rep. Susan Davis (CA-53): “I’d like to extend a big congratulation to Greg Knoll and his team at the Legal Aid Society of San Diego for winning a FY 2016 Legal Services Corporation Pro Bono Grant in the amount of $371,497! For 96 years the Legal Aid Society of San Diego has diligently offered free professional legal services to the many in our county that live at or below the poverty limit. Keep on with the great work!”

Rep. Scott Peters (CA-52): “The Legal Aid Society of San Diego provides invaluable assistance to San Diegans who may not otherwise have access to critical legal services.  With this Pro Bono Grant, Legal Aid Society will be able to better serve previously underrepresented elderly and disabled clients by more efficiently connecting clients with volunteer attorneys and providing attorneys the ability to track case progress in real time.  I congratulate the Legal Aid Society of San Diego for earning this grant and commend the Society for their continued contributions to the San Diego community.”

Rep. Juan Vargas (CA-51): “I congratulate the Legal Aid Society of San Diego for receiving this Pro Bono Grant, which will allow them to continue fighting for justice for the disadvantaged members of our community. Without representation, vulnerable individuals often face injustice, but thanks to the committed staff and volunteers at the Legal Aid Society of San Diego, many see justice realized. I look forward to seeing the projects put in place with the help from this grant and applaud them for their hard work and dedication to this great cause.”

Legal Aid Society of San Diego is one of 11 recipients of LSC’s $4 million Pro Bono Innovation Fund, a competitive grant program that invests in projects that identify and promote replicable innovations in pro bono for low-income legal aid clients. This is the third year LSC has awarded Pro Bono Innovation Fund grants.

 


D.C.’s Neighborhood Legal Services Program Receives $386,825 Pro Bono Innovation Fund Grant 

WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation announced today that the Neighborhood Legal Services Program of the District of Columbia will receive a 24-month $386,825 Pro Bono Innovation Fund grant to provide free legal resources to job-seekers in the city's underserved neighborhoods. This new project, Unlocking Unemployment, will build on the Neighborhood Legal Services Program’s existing collaboration with D.C. Public Library.

“We are grateful to Congress for establishing the Pro Bono Innovation Fund to increase pro bono support for civil legal aid,” said Legal Services Corporation President Jim Sandman. “The grants we are funding will allow more pro bono lawyers to serve the elderly and the disabled, to help remove legal barriers to employment, and to increase legal services in rural areas.”

Low-income residents of the District of Columbia struggle with both intermittent and long-term unemployment. High levels of unemployment are concentrated in historically underserved, economically underdeveloped, and predominantly African-American neighborhoods that lie east of the Anacostia River in Wards 7 and 8. Some of the factors contributing to this problem—poor credit histories, suspended driver’s licenses, employer discrimination, criminal records, and unstable housing—can be overcome with the assistance of legal counsel. Legal aid and pro bono resources, however, are concentrated elsewhere in the city 

The Unlocking Unemployment project will address this gap by bringing volunteer attorneys to walk-in legal clinics located at public libraries that are readily accessible to community members and where Wards 7 and 8 residents routinely go to find assistance and computer access for their job searches. The clinics will provide in-person information to job seekers as well as connect those with a higher level of legal need to a legal services organization. The Neighborhood Legal Services Program hopes to clear a pathway to meaningful, sustained employment.

Neighborhood Legal Services Program is one of 11 recipients of LSC’s $4 million Pro Bono Innovation Fund, a competitive grant program that invests in projects that identify and promote replicable innovations in pro bono for low-income legal aid clients. This is the third year LSC has awarded Pro Bono Innovation Fund grants.

 


Atlanta Legal Aid Society Receives $421,310 Pro Bono Innovation Fund Grant 

WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation announced today that the Atlanta Legal Aid Society will receive a 24-month $421,310 Pro Bono Innovation Fund grant to create the Pro Bono Engagement Program. This project will enhance Atlanta Legal Aid Society’s numerous pro bono efforts by centralizing its volunteer lawyers program.

“We are grateful to Congress for establishing the Pro Bono Innovation Fund to increase pro bono support for civil legal aid,” said Legal Services Corporation President Jim Sandman. “The grants we are funding will allow more pro bono lawyers to serve the elderly and the disabled, to help remove legal barriers to employment, and to increase legal services in rural areas.”

Atlanta Legal Aid Society is adept at creating programs that incorporate volunteer attorneys into the provision of legal services to low-income clients. Atlanta Legal Aid Societycurrently has twelve pro bono projects in Atlanta and Cobb County with attorneys, law schools, and corporate legal partners working for a specific client population or on a specific type of legal matter.

The Pro Bono Engagement Program will create web-based resources and a centralized structure for all these pro bono efforts to promote the coordination of resources, volunteer experience, learning, and collaboration. By focusing on strong pro bono administration, the project will not only enhance pro bono in Atlanta, but will provide best practices for other legal services organizations that are trying to create an effective and efficient pro bono program. 

U.S. Representative Hank Johnson (GA-4) applauded the award. “For nearly a century, Atlanta Legal Aid has been helping the disenfranchised gain access to critical services through free, civil legal aid,” Johnson said. “This is why I’m pleased they are receiving this crucial grant from the Legal Services Corporation to continue their exceptional pro bono work to improve the social, political, and economic conditions in our communities.”

Atlanta Legal Aid Society is one of 11 recipients of LSC’s $4 million Pro Bono Innovation Fund, a competitive grant program that invests in projects that identify and promote replicable innovations in pro bono for low-income legal aid clients. This is the third year LSC has awarded Pro Bono Innovation Fund grants.

 


Indiana Legal Services Receives $325,837 Pro Bono Innovation Fund Grant 

WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation announced today that Indiana Legal Services will receive a 24-month $325,837 Pro Bono Innovation Fund grant to support a project integrating Indiana Legal Services with the state's existing pro bono system.

“We are grateful to Congress for establishing the Pro Bono Innovation Fund to increase pro bono support for civil legal aid,” said Legal Services Corporation President Jim Sandman. “The grants we are funding will allow more pro bono lawyers to serve the elderly and the disabled, to help remove legal barriers to employment, and to increase legal services in rural areas.”

In 2015, Indiana Legal Services had to turn away 4,000 applicants for services because it lacked the resources and capacity to serve them. Recognizing that connecting volunteer attorneys to clients in need would help address the resource and capacity gap, the organization plans to integrate with Indiana’s existing pro bono structure. Indiana Legal Services will also expand the current pro bono system with its existing community contacts and partnerships, increasing the pool of volunteer lawyers. This combined approach to pro bono efforts will help ensure that Indiana’s low-income communities receive the legal resources they need.

The project is designed as a pilot to determine whether this type of participation could be replicated in other Pro Bono Districts. It will initially focus on engaging the ten largest law firms in Indianapolis in pro bono cases.

U.S. Representative André Carson (IN-7) applauded the award. “Court action can be costly and intimidating, but we have a responsibility to ensure that everyone in America has equal access to justice,” Carson said. “That’s why I’m pleased to see Indiana Legal Services receive this funding to help guarantee that Americans’ constitutional rights to a fair trial and equal protection under the law are upheld.”

Indiana Legal Services is one of 11 recipients of LSC’s $4 million Pro Bono Innovation Fund, a competitive grant program that invests in projects that identify and promote replicable innovations in pro bono for low-income legal aid clients. This is the third year LSC has awarded Pro Bono Innovation Fund grants.

 


Iowa Legal Aid Receives $364,709 Pro Bono Innovation Fund Grant and $59,734 Technology Initiative Grant 

WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation announced today that Iowa Legal Aid will receive a 24-month $364,709 Pro Bono Innovation Fund grant for its Pro Bono Revitalization Project and a $59,734 Technology Initiative Grant to update and expand its use of A2J Author, cloud-based software tool.

“We are grateful to Congress for establishing the Pro Bono Innovation Fund to increase pro bono support for civil legal aid,” said Legal Services Corporation President Jim Sandman. “The grants we are funding will allow more pro bono lawyers to serve the elderly and the disabled, to help remove legal barriers to employment, and to increase legal services in rural areas.”

The Pro Bono Revitalization Project’s goal is to build a robust pro bono program that will make it easier for attorneys in Iowa to provide legal services to low-income individuals. In 2015, Iowa Legal Aid closed 16,203 cases that helped approximately 38,000 people. Despite these high numbers, Iowa Legal Aid must turn away or underserve nearly 10,000 people every year. Volunteer attorneys can help address this gap, but Iowa Legal Aid has found its current pro bono model outdated and unable to meet the challenges of recruiting and placing a sufficient number of volunteer attorneys, especially in rural areas.  

The Pro Bono Revitalization Project will focus on creating a pro bono program that is more strategic, efficient, and effective in referring appropriate cases to pro bono attorneys. The project will also work to enlist the help of judges and attorneys to educate attorneys about the benefits of pro bono service. Through a structured and targeted approach, Iowa Legal Aid will create a well-supported and long-lasting pro bono program.

U.S. Representative David Young (IA-3) applauded the award. “Iowa Legal Aid provides essential resources to folks in Iowa, and this grant funding will further support Iowans needing legal assistance, and expand access to Iowa Legal Aid tools,” Young said. “As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I work to ensure grant funding like this is available to communities across the country, and I’m pleased this in particular will benefit folks in Iowa communities who need it the most.” 

Iowa Legal Aid is one of 11 recipients of LSC’s $4 million Pro Bono Innovation Fund, a competitive grant program that invests in projects that identify and promote replicable innovations in pro bono for low-income legal aid clients. This is the third year LSC has awarded Pro Bono Innovation Fund grants.

Iowa Legal Aid will use its Technology Initiative Grant (TIG) to improve its use of A2J Author, a cloud-based software tool that enables non-technical authors to rapidly build and implement user-friendly, web-based interfaces for document assembly. By migrating the program's current online intake interview to the cloud version, Iowa Legal Aid will expand access to online applications for legal assistance to mobile device users. The project will also put the A2J Author application to new uses for referrals and training and provide a Spanish language version of the online application and referral tools.

LSC’s TIG program supports the use of technology to increase access by low-income persons to high-quality legal services, to the judicial system, and to legal information. In 2016, LSC will award approximately $4 million for TIG projects.  

 


Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services Receives $286,000 Pro Bono Innovation Fund Grant 

WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation announced today that Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services will receive a 24-month $286,000 Pro Bono Innovation Fund grant to advance access to legal services in rural areas by connecting low-income populations with pro bono attorneys.

“We are grateful to Congress for establishing the Pro Bono Innovation Fund to increase pro bono support for civil legal aid,” said Legal Services Corporation President Jim Sandman. “The grants we are funding will allow more pro bono lawyers to serve the elderly and the disabled, to help remove legal barriers to employment, and to increase legal services in rural areas.”

Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services faces the challenge of delivering legal assistance to low-income persons in the rural parts of its service area. The significant and growing immigrant and refugee populations in southern Minnesota present additional challenges to service. The organization plans to address these challenges by enlisting attorneys to perform free “legal checkups” as part of its existing Lawyers Advancing Wellness medical-legal partnership with Open Door Health Center.

Volunteer attorneys will provide advice and brief services. Cases requiring extended representation will be referred to other volunteer attorneys or staff. The clinics will be located in and around the city of Mankato, which has the one of the highest poverty rates in the state. This new pro bono component to the Lawyers Advancing Wellness project will serve as a replicable model for collaboration around rural access and healthy outcomes through legal interventions affecting the social determinates of health.

Minnesota’s U.S. senators applauded the grant:

Senator Al Franken (MN): “All Minnesotans deserve quality legal representation, regardless of how much they make or where they live. This grant from Legal Services Corporation will go a long way in helping residents of Mankato and the surrounding area gain access to counsel and extended representation. This is great news for Minnesota, and I want to thank Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services for working to expand legal aid in rural areas of our state.” 

Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN): “All Americans deserve equal access to justice, regardless of their background or income level. This grant from the Legal Services Corporation will help people across southern Minnesota receive the due process owed to them through our legal system.”  

U.S. Representative Betty McCollum (MN-4) also expressed her support. “Every American deserves access to high-quality legal representation, including in civil cases,” McCollum said. “This federal grant to Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services will ensure that more Minnesotans are able to access high-quality legal representation, especially by using an innovative model that partners with medical clinics for ‘legal check-ups.’ I am very pleased the Legal Services Corporation is providing SMRLS with this important federal funding.”

Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services is one of 11 recipients of LSC’s $4 million Pro Bono Innovation Fund, a competitive grant program that invests in projects that identify and promote replicable innovations in pro bono for low-income legal aid clients. This is the third year LSC has awarded Pro Bono Innovation Fund grants.

 


Legal Services Law Line of Vermont Receives $246,034 Pro Bono Innovation Fund Grant 

WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation announced today that Legal Services Law Line of Vermont will receive a 24-month $246,034 Pro Bono Innovation Fund grant to support pro bono clinics in the state focused on housing and debt collection cases.

“We are grateful to Congress for establishing the Pro Bono Innovation Fund to increase pro bono support for civil legal aid,” said Legal Services Corporation President Jim Sandman. “The grants we are funding will allow more pro bono lawyers to serve the elderly and the disabled, to help remove legal barriers to employment, and to increase legal services in rural areas.”

Affordable housing is increasingly scarce in Vermont, and preventing evictions is an important priority for Legal Services Law Line of Vermont. Court statistics indicate that more than 85% of tenants facing eviction are unrepresented, while almost 90% of landlords have attorneys.  The same holds true for consumer debt collection cases, where very few defendants are represented. These defendants are often unable to represent themselves effectively against attorneys who try hundreds of such cases every year.

Law Line of Vermont, working with the Civil Division court, has already piloted a clinic to address the disparity in representation in housing cases. Staffed with volunteer attorneys, the clinic provides representation to tenants facing eviction. With the support of this latest grant, the clinic will expand to three more counties in Vermont. The organization will also pilot a new clinic providing representation to consumers in debt collection cases. These clinics will provide services that could have profound long-term effects on clients’ housing and income.

U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy applauded the grant. “For two decades, Law Line of Vermont has provided critical legal services to low-income Vermonters,” Leahy said. “This grant will enable Law Line to expand those services to defendants in eviction cases who might otherwise not be represented. No one should face the loss of housing without an understanding of their legal rights. But another benefit of this grant is that it will also provide training for volunteer attorneys who are dedicated to pro bono work. I congratulate Law Line for delivering this important public service, and LSC for helping to make that happen.” 

Legal Services Law Line of Vermont is one of 11 recipients of LSC’s $4 million Pro Bono Innovation Fund, a competitive grant program that invests in projects that identify and promote replicable innovations in pro bono for low-income legal aid clients. This is the third year LSC has awarded Pro Bono Innovation Fund grants.


Virginia Legal Aid Society Receives $327,899 Pro Bono Innovation Fund Grant 

WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation announced today that Virginia Legal Aid Society will receive a 24-month $327,899 Pro Bono Innovation Fund grant for a new project expanding pro bono service in the state.

“We are grateful to Congress for establishing the Pro Bono Innovation Fund to increase pro bono support for civil legal aid,” said Legal Services Corporation President Jim Sandman. “The grants we are funding will allow more pro bono lawyers to serve the elderly and the disabled, to help remove legal barriers to employment, and to increase legal services in rural areas.”

Virginia Legal Aid Society serves twenty counties, six small cities, and an eligible population of more than 140,000 low-income individuals. It is able to provide legal advice to all income-eligible persons who contact them, but almost half of clients in need of extended service are turned away. The new project is focused on addressing this gap by working with volunteer attorneys and community leaders.

The expanded pro bono program, under the direction of a new pro bono director, will be focused on forming strategic partnerships with judges and prominent attorneys in the organization’s service area. Other goals include creating a new clinical program with the Liberty University School of Law in which law students will provide services to clients in need, and supporting the development of a statewide system allowing attorneys located all over Virginia to provide pro bono representation to clients in need through an online pro bono portal.

U.S. Senator Mark Warner congratulated Virginia Legal Aid Society on the grant. “I am thrilled that the Legal Services Corporation has awarded a generous grant to the Virginia Legal Aid Society to provide quality free legal assistance to low-income Virginians,” Warner said. “This grant will expand the organization’s pro bono program to improve collaborations among the justice community in the state and improve the delivery of legal services. Access to affordable, quality legal services is a critical need and I am proud of the work that the Virginia Legal Aid Society does for our communities.”

Virginia Legal Aid Society is one of 11 recipients of LSC’s $4 million Pro Bono Innovation Fund, a competitive grant program that invests in projects that identify and promote replicable innovations in pro bono for low-income legal aid clients. This is the third year LSC has awarded Pro Bono Innovation Fund grants. 


Legal Aid of West Virginia Receives $279,028 Pro Bono Innovation Fund Grant 

WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation announced today that Legal Aid of West Virginia will receive a 24-month $279,028 Pro Bono Innovation Fund grant to support a school and community legal partnership between Legal Aid of West Virginia and Mary C. Snow West Side Elementary School.

“We are grateful to Congress for establishing the Pro Bono Innovation Fund to increase pro bono support for civil legal aid,” said Legal Services Corporation President Jim Sandman. “The grants we are funding will allow more pro bono lawyers to serve the elderly and the disabled, to help remove legal barriers to employment, and to increase legal services in rural areas.”

The west side neighborhood of Charleston is home to many of West Virginia’s low-income families. It also includes Mary C. Snow West Side Elementary School. Nearly 500 children attend the school and, based on school data, more than 75% face domestic violence, are exposed to adult substance abuse, or suffer child abuse, and 20% are homeless or living in shared homes. School officials, community leaders, and government officials agree that the children and families living on in this area have serious unmet civil legal needs; they face eviction, domestic violence, and custody concerns at higher levels than children in most West Virginia communities. 

Creating meaningful access to legal help for families in this area is challenging, as 14% of the population does not have access to a car and there is limited public transportation. Even with access, all the legal needs of the families cannot be effectively met by Legal Aid of West Virginia’s Charleston Office. 

Legal Aid of West Virginia will address both of these challenges by creating a school and community legal partnership. Pro bono attorneys will provide onsite advice, brief services, and assistance in completing pleadings at clinics held at the school. The project is partnering with Handle with Care, a nationally recognized collaboration between the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of West Virginia, school staff, and the surrounding community to support neighborhood families. 

U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins (WV-3) applauded the award. “Legal Services Corporation’s grant will help more attorneys provide pro bono legal aid for our state’s most vulnerable,” Jenkins said. “Our low-income and disabled residents and veterans are often those most in need of help from legal aid services, and they deserve access to legal counsel and advice. I thank LSC for investing in West Virginia and will continue to support their efforts to help our state.”

Legal Aid of West Virginia is one of 11 recipients of LSC’s $4 million Pro Bono Innovation Fund, a competitive grant program that invests in projects that identify and promote replicable innovations in pro bono for low-income legal aid clients. This is the third year LSC has awarded Pro Bono Innovation Fund grants.


Legal Action of Wisconsin Receives $377,773 Pro Bono Innovation Fund Grant 

WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation announced today that Legal Action of Wisconsin will receive a 24-month $377,773 Pro Bono Innovation Fund grant to provide legal assistance to tenants facing eviction in the high-volume Milwaukee County courthouse.

“We are grateful to Congress for establishing the Pro Bono Innovation Fund to increase pro bono support for civil legal aid,” said Legal Services Corporation President Jim Sandman. “The grants we are funding will allow more pro bono lawyers to serve the elderly and the disabled, to help remove legal barriers to employment, and to increase legal services in rural areas.”

Evictions are the most pressing problem for low-income people in Milwaukee County. To tackle the problem, Legal Action of Wisconsin and its partners have created the Lawyer for a Day project. The goal is to harness the resources of Milwaukee’s private bar to provide advice, brief services, and representation at evidentiary hearings when low-income people face eviction. Clinics, staffed by volunteer attorneys, will be held every afternoon at the self-help center located at the courthouse. Pro bono attorneys will help decrease evictions and accomplish other goals, including helping people avoid the long-term consequences and costs of eviction for tenants and landlords.

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (WI) congratulated Legal Action of Wisconsin on the grant. “I’ve been proud to support the work Legal Action does every day to keep the promise of ‘justice for all’ in the state of Wisconsin,” Baldwin said. “For people who have fallen on hard times, having a lawyer makes it more likely that a renter is able to avoid being kicked out of his or her home. I applaud this announcement because this grant will help provide legal representation for people, and can be the difference between justice delivered and justice denied.”

U.S. Representative Gwen Moore (WI-4) also expressed her support. “I’d like to congratulate the Legal Action of Wisconsin for receiving this critical Pro Bono Grant, allowing them to continue standing up for the underserved and fighting for justice for disadvantaged members of our community,” Moore said. “This grant provides free legal assistance to tenants facing eviction in Milwaukee County. Without representation, vulnerable individuals often face in justice.  Access to affordable, quality legal services is a vital need and I am proud of the work that Legal Aid of Wisconsin does for the 4th Congressional District.”

Legal Action of Wisconsin is one of 11 recipients of LSC’s $4 million Pro Bono Innovation Fund, a competitive grant program that invests in projects that identify and promote replicable innovations in pro bono for low-income legal aid clients. This is the third year LSC has awarded Pro Bono Innovation Fund grants.

Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is an independent nonprofit established by Congress in 1974 to provide financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans. The Corporation currently provides funding to 133 independent nonprofit legal aid programs in every state, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories.

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