ABE Opportunity Grants established to provide funding for urgent legal needs
The American Bar Endowment has launched a new grant program to help local, state and national organizations meet urgent legal needs.
The ABE Opportunity Grants program is intended to “support new, boots-on-the-ground, innovative projects that address issues of critical importance to the public and the legal profession,” ABE president J. Anthony Patterson Jr. told his members in a letter describing the organization’s 2017 grants.
The first 15 recipients of the ABE Opportunity Grants received between $10,000 and $50,000, for a total of $343,815. Of the 15, three were national in focus, and 12 serve state or local communities. Most of the grant money will go toward improving access to justice. For example:
• The Legal Aid of the Bluegrass received $50,000 to purchase, outfit and staff a “Justice Bus” to serve as a mobile legal aid office. The Justice Bus will be equipped with videoconferencing equipment, as well as satellite phones and internet connectivity so that it can serve as a pop-up clinic for clients in 10 rural Kentucky counties, where cellular coverage or internet service may be poor.
• The Pace Women’s Justice Center received $20,000 to help fund a walk-in legal clinic and resource center in White Plains, New York. The clinic, which is named “Gail’s House,” will serve the legal needs of victims of elder abuse and domestic violence and be run by a staff of pro bono attorneys. The money will go towards Gail’s House’s first-year operations, and help pay the salary of a English/Spanish bilingual paralegal.
• The ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Public Defendants will use its $15,000 grant to conduct a study on three successful public defense programs, with the intention of producing a report on how other public defense systems could replicate their positive results.
The ABE, which is a not-for-profit corporate public charity, allows its insurance plan members to donate their dividends to “advance legal study and research, and fund programs that advance the American justice system.” The bulk of the ABE’s $7 million in grants for 2017 will go towards the American Bar Foundation and the ABA Fund for Justice and Education, which each received $3.4 million.