The Florida Bar Foundation has awarded $2,574,996 in grants to 23 civil legal aid organizations in a second round of COVID-19 relief efforts. Grantees will use their funding to retain or hire personnel to provide direct legal assistance to low-income clients for legal issues caused by or directly related to the pandemic.
To determine second round funding, the Foundation reviewed interim reports from grantees that received first round funding, sent three surveys to grantee programs, took input from stakeholders including the Florida Civil Legal Aid Association, and conducted research. The executive committee then convened with the goal of covering as much of the state’s population as possible with COVID relief funding.
Programs serving vulnerable populations and communities with the greatest needs or fewest resources were prioritized. Sixteen organizations were awarded a second grant, and seven organizations received their first grant.
In North Florida, Three Rivers Legal Services (TRLS) is using its funding to help clients like “Hannah”, a mother of three residing in a rural county. Her household lost income when her partner was laid off from his job due to COVID-19. Hannah sought help after receiving an eviction summons. TRLS helped her file a response and apply for CARES Act rental assistance. Her family was able to remain in their home.
With their first round grant, Florida Legal Services (FLS) helped a single mother of a young child who faced food insecurity as a result of layoffs due to the pandemic. “Sharla” often went hungry to ensure her daughter had enough to eat. Working with FLS, she found out that a caseworker had misinformed her about eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Though Sharla was ineligible due to an old felony conviction, her daughter could receive SNAP benefits. FLS helped Sharla apply for benefits for her daughter and connected her with a local food pantry.
“The Foundation is proud that it was able to pivot quickly and adjust our funding allocations to help legal aid programs meet the increased challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Connie Bookman, president of The Florida Bar Foundation, said.