2017 Pro Bono Innovation Grant Recipients

September 21, 2017

WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) announced today that 15 legal aid organizations will receive grants to expand pro bono legal services for low-income clients.

Many of the projects the grants will fund focus on building new partnerships between legal aid programs and law schools, law firms, and other local service providers. The projects will engage more pro bono lawyers and other volunteers, to leverage LSC’s federal funding and  increase the legal resources available to meet the civil legal needs of low-income Americans. The projects offer effective, replicable solutions to persistent challenges in current pro bono delivery systems.

For example, Legal Services NYC will use its grant to support its Military Monday project, which brings together corporations, law firms, and legal services to assist low-income veterans. Through a combination of monthly legal clinics and ongoing representation, pro bono attorneys and Legal Services NYC staff will help veterans with pressing legal issues including disability benefits, safe and affordable housing, and child support.

“We are grateful to Congress for establishing the Pro Bono Innovation Fund to increase pro bono support for civil legal aid,” said Jim Sandman, President of LSC. “This grant program stimulates more volunteer participation in legal aid and allows our grantees to serve more people.”

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 subsequent years, beginning with LSC’s FY 2015 appropriation.

The recipients of 2017 Pro Bono Innovation Fund grants are:

California

California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. - $232,525

Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles - $176,379

Colorado

Colorado Legal Services - $132,416

Florida

Bay Area Legal Services, Inc. - $307,573

Louisiana

Southeast Louisiana Legal Services Corporation - $250,515

Massachusetts

Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association - $295,822

Community Legal Aid, Inc. - $194,298

Missouri

Legal Aid of Western Missouri - $190,420

New Jersey

Legal Services of Northwest Jersey - $299,501

Northeast New Jersey Legal Services Corporation - $342,034

New York

Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York, Inc. - $272,758

Legal Services NYC - $351,387

Ohio

The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland - $165,525

Virginia

Legal Services of Northern Virginia, Inc. - $290,283

Washington

Northwest Justice Project - $298,564

 

California Rural Legal Assistance Receives $232,525 Pro Bono Innovation Fund Grant

WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) announced today that California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA) will receive a $232,525 Pro Bono Innovation Fund grant. LSC’s Pro Bono Innovation Fund is intended to encourage and expand robust pro bono efforts and partnerships to serve more low-income clients.

“We are grateful to Congress for establishing the Pro Bono Innovation Fund to increase pro bono support for civil legal aid,” said LSC President Jim Sandman. “This grant program stimulates more volunteer participation in legal aid and allows our grantees to serve more people.”

California Rural Legal Assistance will use the grant to create the Pro Bono Transformation Strategy Project. This project will streamline internal processes and expand the organization’s external connections to allow CRLA to serve more clients.

The project plan includes conducting a detailed inventory of pro bono resources and challenges; developing and instituting data and systems tracking improvements, including a data visualization module; and implementing a training campaign for pro bono attorneys. The grant will also support regional trainings for law firm pro bono coordinators and other attorneys.

Members of the California congressional delegation applauded the grant:

Representative Jim Costa: “Building on over 50 years of serving our rural communities in California, California Rural Legal Assistance will use this grant to identify ways to even better serve our constituents. I look forward to seeing CRLA use this grant to continue to improve legal services in our Valley, and in all rural communities in California.”

Representative Julie Brownley: “It is critical that every citizen has access to counsel. This grant from the Legal Services Corporation will help coordinate pro bono services and ensure that low-income Californians continue to have access to qualified legal services.”

Representative Juan Vargas: “Congratulations to California Rural Legal Assistance for receiving this Pro Bono Innovation Grant from Legal Services Corporation. Every person should have access to justice in our legal system—regardless of where they live and their socioeconomic status. Thank you to California Rural Legal Assistance for providing legal services to constituents in my district and to thousands of low-income Californians.”

CRLA is one of 15 recipients of grants from LSC’s $4 million Pro Bono Innovation Fund, a competitive program that invests in projects that identify and promote replicable innovations in pro bono for low-income legal aid clients. This is the fourth year LSC has awarded Pro Bono Innovation Fund grants.

Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles Receives $176,379 Pro Bono Innovation Fund Grant

WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) announced today that Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles will receive a $176,379 Pro Bono Innovation Fund grant. LSC’s Pro Bono Innovation Fund is intended to encourage and expand robust pro bono efforts and partnerships to serve more low-income clients.

“We are grateful to Congress for establishing the Pro Bono Innovation Fund to increase pro bono support for civil legal aid,” said LSC President Jim Sandman. “This grant program stimulates more volunteer participation in legal aid and allows our grantees to serve more people.”

This award will support Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles’ Pro Bono Training Institute (PBTI). PBTI brings together California’s legal sectors—both nonprofit legal aid organizations and the private bar—to develop online pro bono resources. The goal is to produce universal, interactive, and on-demand trainings that will be made available to any pro bono attorney, law student, or advocate interested in volunteering with legal aid organizations throughout the state. PBTI will help ensure that more low-income Californians receive the legal help they need.

The project will also expand data collection and evaluation tools to better understand current pro bono efforts in the state.

Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles is one of 15 recipients of grants from LSC’s $4 million Pro Bono Innovation Fund, a competitive program that invests in projects that identify and promote replicable innovations in pro bono for low-income legal aid clients. This is the fourth year LSC has awarded Pro Bono Innovation Fund grants.

Colorado Legal Services Receives $132,416 Pro Bono Innovation Fund Grant

WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) announced today that Colorado Legal Services will receive a $132,416 Pro Bono Innovation Fund grant. LSC’s Pro Bono Innovation Fund is intended to encourage and expand robust pro bono efforts and partnerships to serve more low-income clients.

“We are grateful to Congress for establishing the Pro Bono Innovation Fund to increase pro bono support for civil legal aid,” said LSC President Jim Sandman. “This grant program stimulates more volunteer participation in legal aid and allows our grantees to serve more people.”

Colorado Legal Services will use the grant to better serve rural communities. It will explore changes that will allow lawyers and other volunteers living in metropolitan areas to more easily assist low-income clients in rural areas. The organization will incorporate a new element into two law clinics: document drafting using non-attorney volunteers. Law students and paralegals will be recruited, trained, and supervised to assist in the initial drafting of court documents for family law and record-sealing and expungement cases.

The grant will also allow Colorado Legal Services to conduct more thorough evaluation and data collection from its clinics, including measuring actual outcomes of clinic clients.

Senator Michael Bennet congratulated Colorado Legal Services on the grant. “Colorado Legal Services offers vital assistance in our state’s rural communities,” said Bennet. “This innovation grant will enable CLS to expand its pro bono services and encourage law students and paralegals to extend their work across the state.”

Representative Ed Perlmutter also applauded the grant: “Colorado Legal Services is a valuable resource for our community, and our office often refers constituents to them. I’m pleased they will be able to expand some of their existing services with this grant and help more people access high-quality legal services.”

Colorado Legal Services is one of 15 recipients of grants from LSC’s $4 million Pro Bono Innovation Fund, a competitive program that invests in projects that identify and promote replicable innovations in pro bono for low-income legal aid clients. This is the fourth year LSC has awarded Pro Bono Innovation Fund grants.

Bay Area Legal Services Receives $307,573 Pro Bono Innovation Fund Grant, $136,705 Technology Initiative Grant

WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) announced today that Bay Area Legal Services will receive a $307,573 Pro Bono Innovation Fund grant and a $136,705 Technology Initiative Grant.

LSC’s Pro Bono Innovation Fund is intended to encourage and expand robust pro bono efforts and partnerships to serve more low-income clients. “We are grateful to Congress for establishing the Pro Bono Innovation Fund to increase pro bono support for civil legal aid,” said Jim Sandman. “This grant program stimulates more volunteer participation in legal aid and allows our grantees to serve more people.”

Bay Area Legal Services will use the pro bono grant to fund its “No Place Like Home” Project. Created in partnership with the Florida Bar, the project will support disaster preparedness collaborations that include training pro bono volunteers to assist disaster victims with FEMA assistance, insurance claims, identification and document replacement, and other disaster-related legal issues. The organization is one of 15 recipients of grants from LSC’s $4 million Pro Bono Innovation Fund.

Established in 2000, LSC’s Technology Initiative Grant program supports projects that develop and replicate technologies to improve efficiency and provide greater access to high-quality legal assistance. The program distributes up to $4 million annually to LSC-funded legal aid organizations. Bay Area Legal Services is receiving one of 25 grants.

Bay Area Legal Services will use its Technology Initiative Grant to improve the usability of legal aid websites developed on the Drupal for Legal Aid (DLaw) template. It will also expand the pool of Drupal-based features available to the DLaw community to tailor legal aid websites to different communities.

Members of the Florida congressional delegation congratulated Bay Area Legal Services:

Representative Charlie Crist: “I applaud the work of Bay Area Legal Services, helping those in need through their offices in St. Petersburg and Clearwater. With these grant awards, they can train more pro-bono volunteers to help disaster victims – critical after Hurricane Irma – and expand access to legal aid, helping low-income individuals receive justice.”

Representative Tom Rooney: “I would like to congratulate Bay Area Legal Services for receiving Pro Bono and Technology grants from the Legal Services Corporation. These grants will go towards programs to help coordinate pro bono volunteers in disaster preparedness, and expand services through the use of technology so that they may continue their important work of providing assistance to Floridians who may not otherwise have access to adequate legal help or representation.”

Southeast Louisiana Legal Services Corporation Receives $250,515 Pro Bono Innovation Fund Grant, $68,119 Technology Initiative Grant

WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) announced today that Southeast Louisiana Legal Services Corporation will receive a $250,515 Pro Bono Innovation Fund grant and a $68,119 Technology Initiative Grant.

LSC’s Pro Bono Innovation Fund is intended to encourage and expand robust pro bono efforts and partnerships to serve more low-income clients. “We are grateful to Congress for establishing the Pro Bono Innovation Fund to increase pro bono support for civil legal aid,” said LSC President Jim Sandman. “This grant program stimulates more volunteer participation in legal aid and allows our grantees to serve more people.”

This Pro Bono grant will go towards Southeast Louisiana Legal Services Corporation’s Pro Bono Transformation Project. This project will enhance the organization’s pro bono program by centralizing its volunteer lawyers program and undertaking an in-depth assessment of how the program engages in pro bono activities. The goal of the project is to increase the program’s infrastructure capacity, promote better coordination of resources, increase positive volunteer experiences, facilitate greater collaboration, and expand pro bono services for clients.

The grant will also allow Southeast Louisiana Legal Services to create web-based legal resources and upgrade volunteer communication strategies. Southeast Louisiana Legal Services Corporation is one of 15 recipients of grants from LSC’s $4 million Pro Bono Innovation Fund

Established in 2000, LSC’s Technology Initiative Grant program supports projects that develop and replicate technologies to improve efficiency and provide greater access to high-quality legal assistance. The program distributes up to $4 million annually to LSC-funded legal aid organizations. Southeast Louisiana Legal Services Corporation is receiving one of 25 technology grants.

Southeast Louisiana Legal Services will use its Technology Initiative Grant to  improve its website, LouisianaLawHelp.org. The project will progress in three stages: a website evaluation phase, a site overhaul and redevelopment phase, and a site outreach and marketing phase. It will incorporate many of the recommendations from LSC's recent statewide website evaluation project with the goal of optimizing the website for use on mobile devices and increasing overall usability.

Community Legal Aid Receives $194,298 Pro Bono Innovation Fund Grant 

WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) announced today that Community Legal Aid in central and western Massachusetts will receive a $194,298 Pro Bono Innovation Fund grant.

LSC’s Pro Bono Innovation Fund is intended to encourage and expand robust pro bono efforts and partnerships to serve more low-income clients. “We are grateful to Congress for establishing the Pro Bono Innovation Fund to increase pro bono support for civil legal aid,” said LSC President Jim Sandman.   “This grant program stimulates more volunteer participation in legal aid and allows our grantees to serve more people.”

This grant will support the Medical Legal Partnership - Advocacy for a Healthy Community project, which brings together legal aid lawyers, pro bono volunteers, and health clinicians in central Massachusetts. The project will address the legal needs faced by low-income pediatric and adult primary care patients served by Community Legal Aid’s partner UMass Memorial Medical Center, the largest healthcare provider in central Massachusetts.

The project’s goal is to develop additional legal resources and expand pro bono assistance in education and employment cases. The project will also engage an evaluation team from UMass Medical School to study the extent to which low-income clients’ benefits and cost savings can be attributed to legal aid and  pro bono efforts. 

Representative Joe Kennedy III applauded the grant: “For too many of our neighbors, the promise of equal justice in our civil courts requires a prohibitive, unfair price tag that they cannot afford. With this funding, Community Legal Aid will be able to stand beside more clients as they fight for their health care and education.”

Community Legal Aid is one of 15 recipients of grants from LSC’s $4 million Pro Bono Innovation Fund, a competitive program that invests in projects that identify and promote replicable innovations in pro bono for low-income legal aid clients. This is the fourth year LSC has awarded Pro Bono Innovation Fund grants.

Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association Receives $295,822 Pro Bono Innovation Fund Grant, $69,250 Technology Initiative Grant

WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) announced today that Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association will receive a $295,822 Pro Bono Innovation Fund grant and a $69,250 Technology Initiative Grant.

LSC’s Pro Bono Innovation Fund is intended to encourage and expand robust pro bono efforts and partnerships to serve more low-income clients. “We are grateful to Congress for establishing the Pro Bono Innovation Fund to increase pro bono support for civil legal aid,” said LSC President Jim Sandman. “This grant program stimulates more volunteer participation in legal aid and allows our grantees to serve more people.”

The grant supports the Economic Fairness Project, an innovative partnership between the Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association (VLP) and the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General that seeks to address two significant legal problems—wage theft and unfair debt collection. The project’s goal is to provide more assistance to clients on these issues, train volunteers to provide effective legal representation, and create replicable materials to better educate low-income clients about their legal rights.

In addition, VLP will partner with the Attorney General’s Office to use the grant to continue to collect, analyze, and measure the increased court appearance rate of people served by the project to develop an evidence-based model that may be replicated by other legal aid organizations. VLP is one of 15 recipients of grants from LSC’s $4 million Pro Bono Innovation Fund

Established in 2000, LSC’s Technology Initiative Grant program supports projects that develop and replicate technologies to improve efficiency and provide greater access to high-quality legal assistance. The program distributes up to $4 million annually to LSC-funded legal aid organizations. Volunteer Lawyers Projectis receiving one of 25 grants.

Volunteer Lawyers Project will use its Technology Initiative Grant to develop user-friendly, web-based guided interviews and document assembly tools. These tools will help self-represented litigants with appeals and waivers of Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income overpayments. They will also assist them in seeking relief from the Department of Revenue with respect to child support arrears, interest, penalties, bank levy, license suspension and other sanctions.

Senator Edward J. Markey congratulated the Volunteer Lawyers Project on the awards. “Justice should not only be available to those who can afford it,” said Markey. “The Legal Services Corporation is our legal guardian angel, providing decades of service to those who need legal assistance the most. This new funding will help the Volunteers Lawyer Project of the Boston Bar Association provide critical assistance to victims of wage theft and unfair debt collection, and I congratulate them on securing this important funding.”

Representative Joe Kennedy III also applauded the awards: “For too many of our neighbors, the promise of equal justice in our civil courts requires a prohibitive, unfair price tag that they cannot afford. With this funding, the Volunteers Lawyer Project of the Boston Bar Association will be able to stand beside more clients as they fight for the wages and benefits they have earned.”

Legal Aid of Western Missouri Receives $190,420 Pro Bono Innovation Fund Grant

WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) announced today that Legal Aid of Western Missouri will receive a $190,420 Pro Bono Innovation Fund grant. LSC’s Pro Bono Innovation Fund is intended to encourage and expand robust pro bono efforts and partnerships to serve more low-income clients.

“We are grateful to Congress for establishing the Pro Bono Innovation Fund to increase pro bono support for civil legal aid,” said LSC President Jim Sandman. “This grant program stimulates more volunteer participation in legal aid and allows our grantees to serve more people.”

The grant will fund Legal Aid of Western Missouri’sAdopt a Neighborhood project. This project enlists volunteer attorneys from Kansas City’s largest law firms to provide free legal services to low-income residents of urban neighborhoods.

Under a previous grant from LSC, the program enrolled seven private law firms, engaged more than 50 pro bono attorneys, and opened more than 115 cases for clients. These cases represent more than 3,000 hours of pro bono legal service. With this new grant, Legal Aid of Western Missouri plans to expand the project to two more neighborhoods with new law firm partners. It also plans to improve data collection and continuing legal education offerings for pro bono volunteers.

Senator Roy Blunt congratulated Legal Aid of Western Missouri on the award. “For more than 40 years, LSC has provided quality legal services to countless low-income citizens, making a difference in the lives of thousands of Missourians each year,” said Blunt. “I’m glad this grant will give Legal Aid of Western Missouri additional resources to continue providing counsel to those who need it most.”

Representative Emanuel Cleaver, II also applauded the grant: “I am excited to hear that thousands will be able to benefit from the services and expertise of the Legal Aid of Western Missouri. This grant will give Missourians the assistance they need when seeking an attorney or legal advice. Often, people who have become victims of unfair labor practices, discrimination or unjust situations do not fight back because they lack the funds. With this grant, people will feel more confident to seek justice knowing they have support.”

Legal Aid of Western Missouri is one of 15 recipients of grants from LSC’s $4 million Pro Bono Innovation Fund, a competitive program that invests in projects that identify and promote replicable innovations in pro bono for low-income legal aid clients. This is the fourth year LSC has awarded Pro Bono Innovation Fund grants.

Legal Services of Northwest Jersey Receives $299,501 Pro Bono Innovation Fund Grant

WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) announced today that Legal Services of Northwest Jersey will receive a $299,501 Pro Bono Innovation Fund grant. LSC’s Pro Bono Innovation Fund is intended to encourage and expand robust pro bono efforts and partnerships to serve more low-income clients.

“We are grateful to Congress for establishing the Pro Bono Innovation Fund to increase pro bono support for civil legal aid,” said LSC President Jim Sandman. “This grant program stimulates more volunteer participation in legal aid and allows our grantees to serve more people.”

Legal Services of Northwest Jersey will use the grant to support its Achieving Justice through Pro Bono Innovation project and hire a Director of Pro Bono Innovation. The project’s goal is to ensure that Legal Services of Northwest Jersey’s pro bono program reflects current best practices and innovation in pro bono delivery.  The grant will improve the program’s pro bono coordination with volunteers to better meet the most pressing needs of the local community and increase the number of volunteers who are actively engaged in serving low-income clients.

Legal Services of Northwest Jersey will also perform a comprehensive analysis of its pro bono program and seek input from the client community, the courts, attorneys, and service providers in New Jersey and nationally.

Senator Cory Booker congratulated Legal Services of Northwest Jersey on the award.“As the need for civil legal aid continues to increase, these critical funds will help combat injustice and assist the most vulnerable in our communities,” said Booker. “The Pro Bono Innovation Fund is vital to helping organizations like Legal Services of Northwest Jerseyincrease access to legal representation and strengthen our justice system and I thank them for their continued efforts.”

Legal Services of Northwest Jersey is one of 15 recipients of grants from LSC’s $4 million Pro Bono Innovation Fund, a competitive program that invests in projects that identify and promote replicable innovations in pro bono for low-income legal aid clients. This is the fourth year LSC has awarded Pro Bono Innovation Fund grants.

Northeast New Jersey Legal Services Corporation Receives $342,034 Pro Bono Innovation Fund Grant

WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) announced today that Northeast New Jersey Legal Services Corporation will receive a $342,034 Pro Bono Innovation Fund grant. LSC’s Pro Bono Innovation Fund is intended to encourage and expand robust pro bono efforts and partnerships to serve more low-income clients.

“We are grateful to Congress for establishing the Pro Bono Innovation Fund to increase pro bono support for civil legal aid,” said LSC President Jim Sandman. “This grant program stimulates more volunteer participation in legal aid and allows our grantees to serve more people.”

Northeast New Jersey Legal Services will use the grant to support its Pro Bono Language and Culture Innovation Project. The project’s goal is to bring volunteer attorneys and other professionals with unique language and cultural skills to assist LEP (Limited English Proficient) clients. This will allow Northeast New Jersey Legal Services to deliver quality legal services and community legal education to documented immigrants from all backgrounds who are on the path to citizenship.

The project will also strengthen the program’s long-term ability to provide client-centered legal services across all practice areas in a diverse service area.

Senator Cory Booker congratulated Northeast New Jersey Legal Services on the award.“As the need for civil legal aid continues to increase, these critical funds will help combat injustice and assist the most vulnerable in our communities,” said Booker. “The Pro Bono Innovation Fund is vital to helping organizations like Legal Services of Northeast Jerseyincrease access to legal representation and strengthen our justice system and I thank them for their continued efforts.”

Northeast New Jersey Legal Services Corporation is one of 15 recipients of grants from LSC’s $4 million Pro Bono Innovation Fund, a competitive program that invests in projects that identify and promote replicable innovations in pro bono for low-income legal aid clients. This is the fourth year LSC has awarded Pro Bono Innovation Fund grants.

Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York Receives $272,758 Pro Bono Innovation Fund Grant

WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) announced today that Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York will receive a $272,758 Pro Bono Innovation Fund grant. LSC’s Pro Bono Innovation Fund is intended to encourage and expand robust pro bono efforts and partnerships to serve more low-income clients.

“We are grateful to Congress for establishing the Pro Bono Innovation Fund to increase pro bono support for civil legal aid,” said LSC President Jim Sandman. “This grant program stimulates more volunteer participation in legal aid and allows our grantees to serve more people.”

This grant supports Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York’s Town and Village Attorney of the Hour Program. This project will expand the current pro bono eviction defense program in Binghamton City Court to Broome County.

Reports show that nearly 10% of all cases handled through the City Court Program are "repeats," in which tenants who have been assisted previously return to court because of a new eviction. Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York proposes to staff the City Court Program with a rental housing counselor who will meet with tenants after their court appearances to provide counseling, referrals, and follow-up services. Staff will then monitor this assistance and collect data over the grant period on the impact these services have on housing stability for clients.

Members of the New York congressional delegation congratulated Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York the award:

Representative John Faso: “It’s a pleasure to congratulate the Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York upon hearing the news of their Pro Bono Innovation Grant award for $272,758. Many 19th District residents have benefitted from the honorable work that the Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York does to assist with legal fees for those who can’t afford those kinds of services. This grant award will directly impact the lives of many people in need of help, and I will continue to do what I can in my role in Congress to ensure that organizations like Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York have access to these kinds of resources.”

Representative Claudia Tenney: “The Legal Aid Society of Mid- New York’s dedicated staff provides critically important legal services to low- and middle-income families and individuals across Central New York and the Southern Tier. As an attorney, I understand that access to legal services is a key part of leveling the playing field for our most vulnerable citizens. This grant will expand the Legal Aid Society’s ability to better serve our community by providing important resources to help reduce the rates of eviction in Broome County, ensuring a stable housing environment.”

Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York is one of 15 recipients of grants from LSC’s $4 million Pro Bono Innovation Fund, a competitive program that invests in projects that identify and promote replicable innovations in pro bono for low-income legal aid clients. This is the fourth year LSC has awarded Pro Bono Innovation Fund grants.

Legal Services NYC Receives $351,387 Pro Bono Innovation Fund Grant, $102,750 Technology Initiative Grant

WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) announced today that Legal Services NYC will receive a $351,387 Pro Bono Innovation Fund grant and a $102,750 Technology Initiative Grant.

LSC’s Pro Bono Innovation Fund is intended to encourage and expand robust pro bono efforts and partnerships to serve more low-income clients. “We are grateful to Congress for establishing the Pro Bono Innovation Fund to increase pro bono support for civil legal aid,” said LSC President Jim Sandman. “This grant program stimulates more volunteer participation in legal aid and allows our grantees to serve more people.”

This grant will fund Legal Services NYC’s “Military Mondays” project, which brings together corporations, law firms, and legal services to assist low-income veterans.  In partnership with global law firms and Fortune 500 companies including Goldman Sachs, Barclays, Starbucks, BNY Mellon, and Marsh & McLennan, Legal Services NYC will provide needed legal assistance to low-income veterans. Through a combination of monthly legal clinics and ongoing representation, pro bono attorneys and Legal Services NYC staff will help veterans with pressing issues including disability benefits, safe and affordable housing, and child support.

The project’s goal is to serve as a model for engaging significant numbers of new pro bono volunteers from corporations and law firms on behalf of veterans and other low-income people. To facilitate replication, Legal Services NYC will create a “start-up kit” for other legal services organizations that wish to create similar initiatives. Legal Services NYC is one of 15 recipients of grants from LSC’s $4 million Pro Bono Innovation Fund

Established in 2000, LSC’s Technology Initiative Grant program supports projects that develop and replicate technologies to improve efficiency and provide greater access to high-quality legal assistance. The program distributes up to $4 million annually to LSC-funded legal aid organizations. Legal Services NYC is receiving one of 25 technology grants this year.

Legal Services NYC will use its Technology Initiative Grant to improve technology used in its Housing Repair and Harassment clinics. The project will integrate LawHelp Interactive—a tool that generates legal forms based on self-represented litigants’ answers to a series of questions—with JustFix.nyc, which provides an online platform to help New Yorkers facing neglectful housing situations.

Members of the New York congressional delegation congratulated Legal Services NYC:

Representative Daniel Donovan, Jr.: “The assistance provided by Legal Services NYC, particularly to veterans who are in need of legal counseling, is incredibly valuable. As a former prosecutor, I know that navigating complex legal issues can be daunting. It’s a true service to the community that the less fortunate, including those who risked their lives for our country, can rely on Legal Services NYC.”

Representative Eliot Engel: “Legal Services NYC provides invaluable legal assistance to residents of the New York City area and this grant money from Legal Services Corporation will help them provide even more assistance to low-income veterans and other litigants in my district. I applaud Legal Services NYC for the work they do and will continue to support them at the federal level, because justice should not be reserved for those who can afford high priced representation.”

Representative Jose Serrano, Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Commerce, Justice and Science subcommittee: “Legal Services NYC is a critical part of the safety net in our city for those who have nowhere else to turn to help them with legal problems involving housing, public assistance, domestic violence, and other issues. It provides more than just legal representation- it serves as an instrument to help fight social and racial injustice by helping more than 80,000 low-income New Yorkers each year. This funding will help LSNYC serve more clients with greater efficiency.

“Civil legal assistance for those who can’t otherwise afford a lawyer is an essential part of making our constitutional values available to everyone. As Ranking Member of the appropriations subcommittee that funds the Legal Services Corporation, I will continue fighting to ensure this program is well funded to help ensure equal justice under the law.”

The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland Receives $165,525 Pro Bono Innovation Fund Grant

WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) announced today that the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland will receive a $165,525 Pro Bono Innovation Fund grant. LSC’s Pro Bono Innovation Fund is intended to encourage and expand robust pro bono efforts and partnerships to serve more low-income clients.

“We are grateful to Congress for establishing the Pro Bono Innovation Fund to increase pro bono support for civil legal aid,” said LSC President Jim Sandman. “This grant program stimulates more volunteer participation in legal aid and allows our grantees to serve more people.”

Legal Aid Society of Cleveland will use the grant to support its ACT 2 Project. The project’s goal is to increase pro bono services to low-income clients by recruiting late-career and retired attorneys to perform a variety of pro bono roles. Many of these volunteers undertake traditional pro bono work, such as participating in clinics or accepting pro bono cases. Other volunteers perform in-house work at the Legal Aid Society, where they work with, and are trained by, staff members in substantive practice groups: family, housing, consumer, community engagement, or HEWII (health, education, work, income, and immigration).

This grant will help Legal Aid Society strengthen the ACT 2 Project by recruiting more volunteers and providing additional support to existing pro bono attorneys through training and technology. ACT 2 Project attorneys will help ensure shelter, safety, and economic security for the most vulnerable members of the Cleveland community.

Senator Sherrod Brown congratulated Legal Aid Society of Cleveland on the award. “By encouraging late-career and retired attorneys to lend their expertise to organizations like the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, we can expand and improve the legal resources available to underserved communities,” Brown said. “Investing in increased access to legal representation strengthens our justice system and helps support fairness and equal treatment under the law.”  

Other members of the Ohio congressional delegation also applauded the grant:

Representative Marcia Fudge: “I congratulate the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland for receiving a Pro Bono Innovation Grant from the Legal Services Corporation. Legal representation and advice often are unavailable to people with issues that impact their basic needs such as health, housing and education, but who have little, if any, money.  Lack of income should not limit access to justice for anyone, especially our poor and vulnerable residents in underserved communities.  I am pleased that more northeast Ohioans will be able to get the help they need from the high-quality work of our Legal Aid Society staff and volunteer attorneys.”

Representative Dave Joyce: “As a former prosecuting attorney, I believe everyone should have equal access to the justice system in our nation. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford legal services and that is why this grant is so important. It will help to extend that equal access to all individuals. You see, the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland provides a service for many people who can’t afford attorneys and just don’t even know where to turn. These are individuals who work hard and support their families, but that aren’t able to defend themselves legally even with working one or two jobs.  Legal fees can be quite costly which is why I’m so glad the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland was awarded these needed funds.”

Representative Marcy Kaptur: “The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland does so much good work for the people of Northeast Ohio. I am pleased that these funds will be made available and will be put to productive use by this deserving organization, which provides legal assistance to those who would otherwise have nowhere else to go for help.”

Representative Jim Renacci: “Giving back to our community is the only way we can ensure success for future generations. Which is why I am pleased to see The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, which my office works closely with, was provided funding to continue helping break down legal barriers for those in need.”

The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland is one of 15 recipients of grants from LSC’s $4 million Pro Bono Innovation Fund, a competitive program that invests in projects that identify and promote replicable innovations in pro bono for low-income legal aid clients. This is the fourth year LSC has awarded Pro Bono Innovation Fund grants.

Legal Services of Northern Virginia Receives $290,283 Pro Bono Innovation Fund Grant, $97,750 Technology Initiative Grant 

WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) announced today that Legal Services of Northern Virginia will receive a $290,283 Pro Bono Innovation Fund grant and a $97,750 Technology Initiative Grant. 

LSC’s Pro Bono Innovation Fund is intended to encourage and expand robust pro bono efforts and partnerships to serve more low-income clients. “We are grateful to Congress for establishing the Pro Bono Innovation Fund to increase pro bono support for civil legal aid,” said LSC President Jim Sandman.  “This grant program stimulates more volunteer participation in legal aid and allows our grantees to serve more people.”

Legal Services of Northern Virginia will use the grant to support its Veterans Law Pro Bono Project, which assists veterans in need of discharge upgrades and Veterans Administration disability compensation. The Veterans Law Pro Bono Project was created as a partnership between Legal Services of Northern Virginia, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Mason Veterans and Servicemembers Legal Clinic at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School.

The project begins with "legal check-ups" performed by law students to assess veterans’ legal needs, followed by referrals to volunteer attorneys for further assistance. The project strategically engages and trains non-attorney volunteers to handle screening and document requests, freeing up volunteer attorneys to focus on providing substantive representation to veterans. Legal Services of Northern Virginia is one of 15 recipients of grants from LSC’s $4 million Pro Bono Innovation Fund

Established in 2000, LSC’s Technology Initiative Grant program supports projects that develop and replicate technologies to improve efficiency and provide greater access to high-quality legal assistance. The program distributes up to $4 million annually to LSC-funded legal aid organizations. Legal Services of Northern Virginia is receiving one of 25 grants.

Legal Services of Northern Virginia will use its Technology Initiative Grant to develop guided interviews for intake paralegals and the attorney advice line and to create a new intake tool for staff and clients that allows two-way SMS text messages in English and Spanish.

Senator Tim Kaine congratulated Legal Services of Northern Virginia on the awards. “For over 40 years, LSC has provided access to justice for our country’s most vulnerable – the elderly, veterans, low-income families, disabled Americans, and victims of domestic violence,” said Kaine. “I'm glad LSC is supporting those who need help affording proper legal assistance in Northern Virginia through this investment.”

Representative Don Beyer also applauded the awards. “I congratulate the Legal Services of Northern Virginia for receiving a Pro Bono and Technology grant to provide quality free legal assistance to low-income Virginians,” said Beyer. “Legal Services of Northern Virginia provides invaluable assistance to Virginians who may not otherwise have access to critical legal services. These grants will help provide critical services to veterans in need and expand the organization’s services through the use of technology.”

Northwest Justice Project Receives $298,564 Pro Bono Innovation Fund Grant, $97,750 Technology Initiative Grant 

WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) announced today that Northwest Justice Project will receive a $298,564 Pro Bono Innovation Fund grant and a $185,250 Technology Initiative Grant.

LSC’s Pro Bono Innovation Fund is intended to encourage and expand robust pro bono efforts and partnerships to serve more low-income clients. “We are grateful to Congress for establishing the Pro Bono Innovation Fund to increase pro bono support for civil legal aid,” said LSC President Jim Sandman. “This grant program stimulates more volunteer participation in legal aid and allows our grantees to serve more people.”

Northwest Justice Project will use the grant to support its Achieving Justice Through Pro Bono Innovation project. This project’s goal is to follow up with legal aid clients who received advice from the Northwest Justice Project and support them in implementing that advice or provide them additional legal assistance. Results will be used to make internal improvements to Northwest Justice Project’s pro bono program and address external barriers facing self-represented litigants. Northwest Justice Project is one of 15 recipients of grants from LSC’s $4 million Pro Bono Innovation Fund

Established in 2000, LSC’s Technology Initiative Grant program supports projects that develop and replicate technologies to improve efficiency and provide greater access to high-quality legal assistance. The program distributes up to $4 million annually to LSC-funded legal aid organizations. Northwest Justice Project is receiving one of 25 grants.

Northwest Justice Project will use its Technology Initiative Grant to better serve low-income individuals with family law issues. The organization will partner with Washington State’s Office of Civil Legal Aid and Washington State courts to establish an automated document assembly system for the nearly 200 recently adopted Washington State plain-language family law forms.

Senator Maria Cantwell congratulated Northwest Justice Project on the awards. “According to the Equal Justice Coalition, 70% of low-income Washingtonians experience at least one legal problem each year, but less than 25% are able to receive legal help,” said Cantwell. “Without these grants, many would not be able to access legal assistance to seek justice on matters involving securing housing for veterans and families, freeing seniors from financial abuse, serving rural areas when others won't, protecting battered women, and helping disaster survivors. I applaud the work of Northwest Justice Project and will continue supporting increased federal funding to legal services.”

Senator Patty Murray also applauded the awards. "I’m so glad Northwest Justice Project will soon be able to build upon its incredible work to provide more Washingtonians with access to the legal services that they need and deserve,” said Murray. “More than ever, we should be doing everything we can to ensure people are treated equally under the law and able to navigate our justice system, which is why I’ll continue to oppose any efforts to slash funding for legal aid organizations nationwide.” 

Representative Adam Smith joined Senator Cantwell and Senator Murray in congratulating Northwest Justice Project. “Northwest Justice Project works to help individuals facing the civil justice system, regardless of their income – providing legal services to ensure access to basic human needs like healthcare, housing, and family safety,” said Smith. “I applaud the Legal Services Corporation for continuing their strong support of Northwest Justice Project through grants that will improve access to pro bono services and increase coordination with the Washington State Office of Civil Legal Aid. As the need for civil legal aid continues to increase, these critical funds will help combat injustice and assist the most vulnerable in our communities.”  

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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