The Alabama Civil Justice Foundation (ACJF) has awarded $1.63 million to six organizations that will create innovative programs to tackle some of the most difficult civil legal aid issues being faced in our state.
“These grants are focused on stabilizing low-income communities and/or targeted vulnerable community groups,” according to Josh Hayes, ACJF president. “ACJF believes those selected will be far-reaching with lasting impact.” The six 2018 recipients each offer a unique opportunity to help those who are unable to afford legal assistance or are in areas of the state that do not currently have programs readily available to those in need.
The grant funds that will be distributed over the next two to three years are a part of the $3.6 million in settlement funds received by ACJF from the Department of Justice and Bank of America following the 2008 financial crisis.
“These grants will have a transformative impact on legal services in Alabama,” stated John L. Carroll, former Dean of the Cumberland School of Law, ACJF Board of Directors and Grants Committee Member.
The following six recipients will receive a total of $1.63 million:
- Birmingham AIDS Outreach (BAO): BAO will work with the existing Montgomery Advocacy Outreach (MAO) merging current state-of-the-art tele-medical technology with the BAO legal team to form a tele-legal pilot project that will bring medical, social work and legal team members together to help those in need in South Central Alabama counties. Knowledge gained from this program will be expanded to other legal aid providers.
- Alabama State Bar Volunteer Lawyers Program (ASB/VLP): ASB/VLP, along with the Madison County VLP, Montgomery VLP and South AL VLP will bring lawyers offering pro bono services training across the state for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The project will include developing standardized pro bono training and providing coordinated administrative support for the pro bono attorneys.
- Volunteer Lawyers Birmingham: The Volunteer Lawyers Birmingham: Service Veterans is a unique “passing gear” initiative that will accelerate existing services and create new, quality, free legal services for low-income veterans. The Volunteer Lawyers Birmingham: Service Veterans programs will concentrate efforts on accessible training for pro bono lawyers, increasing collaborative work and expanding on community partnerships. Successes will be shared with other legal aid providers.
- Legal Services Alabama: The Legal Services Alabama Rural Economic Improvement Project (REIP) is a systemic approach to addressing the legal and economic needs of rural Alabama citizens. With a focus in the nine counties making up the Black Belt, the REIP will work to establish a statewide focus on better meeting the needs of rural citizens across the state. The REIP will assist in providing significant and sustainable impact for those living in rural communities.
- Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program: The Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program Black Belt Disability Justice Project (BBDJP) will focus on the protection of children with disabilities in the Black Belt. These protections include individual and systemic advocacy related to delinquency and dependency proceedings, mental health services for Medicaid-eligible children, and the well-being of children placed in residential homes, as well as other critical legal barriers. The BBDJP will also advocate providing appropriate education services and educational equity to students.
- Equal Justice Works: The Equal Justice Works Community Redevelopment Fellowship will establish a fellowship position for a recent law school graduate who demonstrates a commitment to public interest law. The focus of the Community Redevelopment Fellowship will be revitalizing and stabilizing low-income communities statewide. The Fellow will develop projects in conjunction with existing nonprofit legal services organizations throughout the state and will benefit from Equal Justice Works Leadership Development Training.
The Mission of the Alabama Civil Justice Foundation is to assist in removing barriers to a civil and just society for Alabama families and children by (1) providing financial assistance to worthwhile charitable organizations serving disadvantaged, disabled, and at-risk families and children; and by (2) providing information and instruction beneficial to individual consumers and the larger community.
Participants in the Alabama Civil Justice Foundation believe that civil justice embodies the opportunity for all citizens to have adequate food and shelter, good health care, a safe environment in which to live and work, a sense of well-being, a quality education, and the chance to work and earn a living. The Foundation was created by Alabama’s legal community as a charitable philanthropy committed to this vision of civil justice. The Foundation is dedicated to the belief that this can only be realized when professionals, private citizens and government collectively address the growing barriers to such a society.
Source: Helen Taylor, Public Relations Specialist at Beasley Allen Law Firm