Access to Justice

ABE supports 12 ‘new and critical initiatives’ through annual grant program

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The American Bar Endowment's Opportunity Grant Program will again support a number of causes, including advocating for children who are deaf and hard of hearing, improving access to the courts for women in prison and ensuring due process for immigrants and asylum-seekers.

On Feb. 1, the ABE announced it would award nearly $300,000 to 12 new projects that are working to address the unmet legal needs of underserved communities around the country. Last year, the ABE awarded about $275,000 to 15 recipients.

“Even a modest grant can accomplish so much,” Carolyn B. Lamm, president of the independent, not-for-profit public charity, said in a news release. “Often, our grants help launch new and critical initiatives that could not be undertaken without that support. Additionally, these innovative projects often provide models that other legal service providers can utilize to enhance their own operations.”

The 2022 Opportunity Grant recipients are:

Advocates for Immigrant Rights, a nonprofit law firm in Memphis, Tennessee, that hopes to expand Welcome South, a coalition of regional immigration legal services providers that created an online platform to facilitate cross-network referrals from social service agencies to their legal programs, between their programs and to other providers.

Alaska State Association for Guardianship & Advocacy, a nonprofit organization in Anchorage, Alaska, that plans to develop user-friendly mobile- and computer-accessible software to help guardians submit income and expense reports to the court more effectively.

Ascend Justice, a legal services organization in Chicago that works with survivors of gender-based violence and families impacted by the child welfare system. It aims to launch self-help stations in women’s prisons in Illinois to make e-filing more accessible.

Code the Dream, a nonprofit organization in Durham, North Carolina, that helps people from diverse backgrounds learn how to code. It is partnering with the Pennsylvania Farmworker Project to improve a mobile app that helps legal and social service organizations plan, implement and track outreach to farmworkers.

DC Bar Foundation, a funder of civil legal aid in Washington, D.C., that is working with the local legal services community to create a user-friendly and secure coordinated intake and referral system for civil legal needs.

Duquesne University School of Law, which is located in Pittsburgh and hopes to build an interactive, web-based computer program to help pro se child custody litigants collect information and prepare their documents for court proceedings.

Hands & Voices, a nonprofit organization based in Boulder, Colorado, that plans to develop a web-based educational advocacy intake tool in English and Spanish to help connect its clients—families with children who are deaf or hard of hearing—with free or low-cost legal services and resources.

Legal Aid Society of San Bernadino, a legal services organization in San Bernadino, California, that will produce videos in English and Spanish to help educate low-income seniors and families on the eviction process as well as how to proceed after receiving notice of eviction.

Legal Aid of the Bluegrass, a legal services organization with four offices in Kentucky that will collaborate with the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services to implement a voice-integrated legal wellness checkup tool to help individuals with limited English skills understand their needs and access resources.

Legal Link, a nonprofit organization in Oakland, California, that aims to train community legal navigators on how to use a new web- and app-based tool to identify legal issues that interfere with their clients’ housing, health and economic stability.

Louisiana Bar Foundation, a New Orleans-based funder of civil legal aid that will launch a web-based app tenants can use to inform their landlords and government housing authorities of needed repairs, create proper documentation when they make their own repairs and access legal resources.

Villanova University, which is in Villanova, Pennsylvania, and plans to devise ways for retired judges and lawyers to become mentors to immigration representatives that are accredited by the U.S. Department of Justice. Learn more about the Villanova Interdisciplinary Immigration Studies Training for Advocates program in this November episode of the Legal Rebels Podcast.

The ABE awarded its Opportunity Grants for the sixth consecutive year. It also provided the American Bar Foundation and ABA Fund for Justice and Education with more than $3.6 million each for legal services, education and research programs.

“The ABE is proud to be part of efforts across the country to address urgent legal issues such as rising evictions and to help people understand their legal needs and access the justice system to solve them,” Joanne Martin, the ABE’s executive director, also said in the news release.

“ABE grants support the stellar ABF research projects that enhance understanding of the law and its impact on society and the many FJE public service initiatives that, for example, help ensure the legal rights of individuals by training lawyers in specialty areas of law such as child welfare, immigration, domestic violence, and veterans benefits.”

Established in 1942, the ABE sponsors insurance plans for ABA lawyer-members who can then donate any available dividends back to the charitable organization. The ABE uses those funds to make grants supporting law-related public service, educational and research programs and projects.

More information on the grant programs is available on the ABE’s website.

See also: “Annual ABE grant program supports 15 ‘boots-on-the-ground’ projects”

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