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June 2021 Board Report

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Quarterly Board Report

June 10, 2021

The Florida Bar Foundation Board of Directors met via Zoom conference on June 10, 2021.  The major actions of the board and reports received included:

Adoption of Two-Month Spending Authority/Interim Operating Budget

The Board adopted the recommendation of the Budget & Finance Committee calling for a two-month spending authority/interim operating budget for July and August in the total amount of $604,361.  The purpose of the spending plan is to provide funding for two months in order to allow more time to receive, process and prepare an operating budget after receipt of the anticipated, imminent changes to the IOTA rule.  Once the changes to the IOTA rule are received from the Florida Supreme Court, staff will endeavor to create an operating budget in accordance with the revised rule.

Regarding the spending authority:

  1. The total amount ($604,361) reflects the best estimate for necessary cash outlays for July and August 2021.  Expenses that could be deferred or delayed are not included in the calculation.
  2. Staff intends to apply the proceeds of the PPP loan obtained ($255,000) to offset certain expenditures incurred during June, July and August which are allowed per the terms of the PPP loan.
  3. The Foundation expects to ultimately recover $159,773 of the monies spent during July and August in the form of reimbursements and refunds.
  4. Consequently, the net cash outlay for July and August is expected to be $189,588 or $94,794 per month.
  5. Because spending and revenues are not received or incurred consistently, the total outlay or net cash outlay does NOT reflect a projected budget for FY21-22.  Therefore, multiplying the gross spending amount requested ($604,361) or the net cash outlay ($189,588) by 6 (2 months X 6 = 12 months/1 year) does NOT translate to an annual projected budget.

Staff is available to answer any questions or provide further documentation or backup as requested.

Children’s Legal Services Grants Awarded to 7 applicants

Funding allocated by the Board for FY 2020-21 Children’s Legal Services (CLS) grants was $655,000.  Sixteen applications seeking $1,601,933 in such funding was received.  The Board approved the recommendation of the Grants Committee to fund the following the 7 projects:

  1. $150,000: Cuban American Bar Association Pro Bono Project’s Immigrant Children’s Program
  2. $121, 209: Legal Services of North Florida’s 2021 Panhandle Children’s Legal Advocacy Project
  3. $81,000: Southern Legal Counsel’s 2021 Keep Kids in School Project
  4. $97,500: Dade Legal Aid’s 2021 Children’s Legal Collaborative
  5. $115,690: FSU College of Law Public Interest Law Center’s Most Vulnerable Children Project
  6. $39,000: Brevard County Legal Aid’s Children’s Legal Advocacy Project
  7. $50,700: Lawyers for Children America’s Every Lawyer (and Every Law Student) Can Make A Difference in a Child’s Life

Given the number of applications, limited funds, and the overall quality of the applications received, the choices were difficult.  The consensus of the initial working group that independently scored each application and arrived at a collective recommendation for consideration by the Grants Committee was to fund as many projects as possible in amounts as meaningful as possible so as to protect the overall effectiveness and impact of those projects receiving funding. As a result, applying an overall pro rata distribution to all applicants was rejected because such would result in funding levels below minimum viable amounts for most projects.  It would also penalize high scoring applicants disproportionately.

After extensive discussion and analysis, the group decided upon an approach similar to ones previously used: graduated awards based on relative scores until allocated funds are exhausted.

A special thank you to Directors Sarita Baigorri and Steve Salzer, who volunteered considerable time to carefully review and thoughtfully consider and score all applications submitted.

Law School Civil Legal Clinic grants awarded to two law schools

Funding allocated by the Board for FY 2020-21 Law School Civil Clinic Grants (LSCC) was $196,196.  Six applications were received and five were processed for scoring.  These five applicants sought $412,522 in funding.  The sixth applicant was determined to be ineligible because it was not an accredited law school and was not proposing the use of funds for use in a law school clinic setting.

The Board approved funding 2 projects:

  1. $100,000: Florida State University Public Interest Law Center’s Eliminating Economic Barriers for Immigrant and Farmworkers:  A Collaborative Project of FSU College of Law and UF College of Law
  2. $68,407: Nova Southeastern University’s NSU Children & Families Law Clinic FY 22 Project

 

The working group that scored the applications initially recommended funding the FSU project at 100% because its collective score was significantly higher than the other applicants. Because of limited funds, the working group decided the most equitable and effective approach was to allocate the remaining monies to the next two highest scoring applications on a 60/40 basis, based on their respective scores with NSU receiving 60% of the remaining funds and UF 40%. However, the working group was concerned that the UF project may not be viable with funding at the proposed level and decided to condition its funding recommendation accordingly. As such, an inquiry was made to the UF grants application contact inquiring as to the minimum amount of money such program needs in order to maintain viability of the proposed clinic.  Based on UF’s response, the working group recommended that NSU be funded at 100% of its request ($68,407) with the remaining allocated monies for LSCC ($27,789) being returned to the Foundation for other grants or program related expenses.

The Grants committee adopted the recommendation which was approved by the Board.

A special thank you to Directors Justice Peggy Quince, Lorna Brown-Burton and Ashley Sybesma, who reviewed and considered the applications individually and collectively and assisted staff with the initial funding recommendation.

COVID-19 funding

$2.5 million dollars remain allocated for a second round of COVID-19 relief funding.  The Board tasked staff to prepare and present a funding recommendation for such funds to the Executive Committee on or before June 30, 2021.  The Foundation will continue to solicit, receive and consider input from Foundation grantees and others and endeavor to prepare a funding recommendation in timely fashion.

Public members selected for Foundation Board Service

The Board received a report from the Joint Nominating Committee regarding it selection of new and/or reappointments of public members of the Foundation’s Board.  The six-person committee selected the following persons to serve a three-year term beginning July 1, 2021:

George Tinsley, Sr. of Winter Haven;

Dr. Patricia Babcock of Tallahassee;

Vincent F. Cuomo of Palm Beach Gardens; and

James P. Schwarz of Jacksonville.

The new members were welcomed to the board and thanked for the commitment to service on the Board and its committees.

Passing of the Gavel and thanksgiving for service

Connie Bookman received the President’s gavel from outgoing President Stephen R. Senn.  Ms. Bookman will take office as President on July 1, 2021.  She announced her committee assignments and dates for Board meetings for FY 21-22 which were ratified by the Board.

President Senn also recognized those members of the Board and the Foundation Endowment Trust who were terming off of the Board and thanked them for their service and commitment.  Those members are:

Carlos Halley, Public Member

Maria Henderson, Endowment Trustee

Hala Sandridge, Immediate Past President

Samantha Vacciana, President, Florida Legal Services

The Honorable Reginald Whitehead, Judicial Officer

NEXT MEETING

The Board’s next scheduled meeting will be on September 10, 2021, hopefully in person in Orlando, Florida.  In the interim, the Executive Committee will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and decide on the nature of the meeting as soon as possible.