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Foundation surpasses $500 million in lifetime grant funding

The Florida Bar Foundation has surpassed $500 million in lifetime grant funding. With its board’s approval on Sept. 13 of $3.3 million to provide nine grants though its Engle Grant program, the Foundation has given more than half a billion dollars in grants since 1982.

Left to right: Foundation Executive Director Donny MacKenzie; Foundation First Vice President Stephen R. Senn; Foundation Immediate Past President Juliette E. Lippman; Foundation President Hala A. Sandridge; Foundation President-elect Thomas R. Oldt; Foundation Second Vice President Connie Bookman

Last year, the Foundation distributed $10.8 million in grants to more than 40 legal aid organizations in Florida, including Innocence Project of Florida, Florida Legal Services and IDignity. More than 80,000 legal aid cases were handled by Foundation grantees in 2018. A 2016 study found that civil legal assistance generates $7.19 of economic impact for every dollar spent on legal aid.

Through the Foundation’s funding, hundreds of thousands of low-income children and adults, veterans, disaster survivors and elderly and disabled Floridians have gained access to civil legal aid to assist them with issues ranging from bankruptcy and evictions to domestic violence injunctions and denial of health care benefits.

The Engle Grant program is an example of an innovative funding source for the Foundation, whose revenue from Florida’s IOTA Program has decreased dramatically since 2007. As a result of sanctions in a federal court case, a four-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida entrusted the Foundation with the money to increase representation in courts through grants to legal aid organizations.

Foundation President Hala A. Sandridge, a co-managing shareholder of the Tampa office of Buchanan, Ingersoll and Rooney, announced the milestone Sept. 13 at the Foundation’s quarterly board of directors meeting.