Quarterly Board Report: June 2022
The Florida Bar Foundation Board of Directors met in person in Orlando on June 23, 2022. The major actions of the board and reports received included:
Adoption of FY 2022-23 Operating Budget
The Board adopted the recommendation of the Budget & Finance Committee and approved the Foundation’s FY 22-23 Operating Budget in the total amount of $2,509,775. This amount is 2.7% below last year’s operating budget. In addition, the Foundation’s projected actual expenses for FY 21-22 are expected to be about 16.74% (or $359,920) less than last year’s budget primarily due to pandemic, timing, and reduced costs associated with personnel and program related activities. A detailed overview of the Foundation’s Operating Budget was contained in the board materials and is available for review upon request. In addition, staff is available to answer any questions or provide further documentation or backup as requested.
Board awards five sets of Grants and Awards
- Children’s Legal Services Grants Awarded to 9 applicants
- Funding allocated by the Board for FY 21-22 Children’s Legal Services (CLS) grants was $1,000,000. Ten applications seeking $1,031,055 were received. The applications were initially reviewed and independently scored by FBF staff and Directors Babcock and Salzer (the workgroup).
- The unanimous decision of the workgroup was to fund nine projects in the full amounts requested, resulting in an aggregate total of $994,483. The group decided that this was the best approach because it awards nine projects the full amounts each requested (something the Foundation has not been able to do frequently in recent years given its depleted resources).
- As such, the working group recommended, and the Board approved funding the following 9 projects:
A special thank you to Steve Salzer, Dr. Patty Babcock, Jessica Brown, Summer Roberts and Andrea De Voe who volunteered considerable time to carefully review and thoughtfully consider all applications individually and collectively resulting in the funding recommendation.
- Law School Civil Legal Clinic grants awarded to three law schools
- Funding allocated by the Board for FY 21-22 Law School Civil Clinic Grants (LSCC) was $250,000. Three applications were received and scored. These three applicants sought $259,312 in funding. The Board approved funding the three projects as follows:
- Community Economic Development (CED) Grant Extensions
- The Board on December 17, 2021, allocated $880,000 for an additional round of CED grant extensions. As a result, a survey was sent on March 24, 2022, to all grantees who had previously indicated that their CED projects were ongoing. The survey sought specific information related to those CED projects for the purpose of possible continued funding. Thirteen projects responded to the survey seeking $1,622,539, which is 184% of the funding amount available. In an effort to increase available funding, two carryover requests totaling $84,733 were added to the grant allocation increasing the total amount to $964,733.
- As usual, this was a difficult and time-consuming task. Several worksheets were developed and reviewed and eight alternatives for funding CED grants extensions were explored. The Grants committee recommended, and the Board approved extended funding for 9 programs as follows:
- Board authorizes disposition and transfer of technology assets
- On December 17, 2021, the Board approved a $250,000 allocation for FY 21-22 dedicated to Technology and Training. The allocation was primarily directed to the disposition of technology assets acquired by FJTC as reflected in the Board’s September 10, 2021, adoption of a Long-Range Plan which was preceded by the Board’s March 12, 2021, approval of the Technology Committee’s Asset Recommendations.
- The Board approved the transfer of several technology assets with certain provisos discussed in detail in the board materials, which are available for review upon request. $69,090 was approved for funding the transfer of certain assets. Pursuant to the Grants Committee request, the Board deferred funding for training for future consideration. The Board will explore funding for training using other mechanisms or methods.
- IOTA Trial Run
- For FY21-22, the Board allocated $1,250,000 of its previous reserves for the purpose of refining the implementation work plan developed by the Executive Committee Special Committee which was approved by the Board in November 2021. Input from the Foundation’s grantees was solicited numerous times throughout the process and the grantees should be commended for their active participation and extensive input. Such input included narratives, reports, data points, survey responses received individually and collectively, direct communications with groups and individuals, and various references and citations. Input from board members and other IOLTA organizations was also received, and various research was conducted. Consequently, a matrix was developed which was approved by the Board.
- This matrix reflects the starting point and basic construct for distributing IOTA funds going forward. The staff recommendation, which was approved by the Board, and corresponding worksheets are available for review upon request.
- In sum, 33 legal aid providers located throughout the state and in all seven regions were funded using an approach that provided funding in a more local manner (regional) and for a larger population in need (poverty and working poor). The funding was further gauged on objective capacity rather than other metrics that may be variable or subjectively defined. Funding was also weighted to reflect need and/or dependence on Foundation funding and to promote overall sustainability of the existing network.
- The Foundation will continue to research and seek input in preparation for its distribution of IOTA funds collected during FY 21-22 per the amended IOTA rule.
Board approves purchase of Foundation office building
In 2019, in an effort to cut future costs and expenses, the Board created a New Building Committee to explore locating real property that could be purchased by the Foundation. After an extensive search, the Building Committee, chaired by Stephen Senn, Immediate Past President, and with invaluable assistance from Director Min Cho, located a suitable office building at 175 Lookout Place in Maitland, FL. The Committee and staff was also authorized to negotiate a contract subject to due diligence and specific approval by the Board of Directors. The Foundation then received pro bono legal assistance from Wiley Boston, Esq., to represent the Foundation in the transaction.
Mr. Senn reported on the status of the due diligence efforts and further reported that the contract for purchase also included an agreement to buy the building’s customized furniture. It also included an agreement to lease the top floor of the 4,200 sq. ft. building for two years to the Seller, along with a 3-month lease for the bottom floor as well. The Foundation is endeavoring to sublet its existing lease whose term ends November 2023. Mr. Senn further explained that the purchase of the building will result in an annual savings for the Foundation of at least $76,451 in office expenses. During the first two years, while the top floor is leased, the savings should approach $137,454 per year. Over a 25-year period, this will result in “rent” savings of $3,780,197, which does not include the value of asset appreciation for the building itself.
The Board approved the New Building Committee’s recommendation to proceed with the purchase subject to due diligence satisfactory the New Building Committee and executive staff. The closing is scheduled for July 15. Special thanks are owed to Mr. Boston for his free legal services and exemplary work on behalf of the Foundation.
New Auditor retained for Foundation
Pursuant to the Board’s 5-year audit review policy, the Audit Committee in September 2021 recommended the commencement of a 5-year review. On December 17, 2021, an Audit RFP Ad Hoc Committee was convened by President Bookman and authorized to engage in an RFP proposal to consider a possible change in its current auditor. A request for proposal to 21 selected auditor firms was prepared and sent. Ultimately, four finalists were identified and interviewed with the ad hoc committee recommending the retention of Carr, Riggs & Ingram (CRI) as the Foundation’s new annual auditor.
The Board approved the retention of CRI as the Foundation’s auditor going forward and thanked its previous auditor, BDO, for five years of top-quality service to the Foundation.
Overall Review Ad Hoc Committee authorized to proceed
In connection with its ongoing work, the Overall Review Ad Hoc committee recommended, and the Board authorized, that it continue with its work consistent with its previously reported recommendations:
- The Foundation’s mission does not need to be and should not be changed;
- The Foundation’s mission statement should be changed and clarified;
- The Foundation should adopt and use a fictitious name that better reflects its mission and purpose;
- The Foundation should endeavor to change and refine its messaging; and
- The Foundation should create, develop or refine its brand to reflect the changes above.
The committee is expected to present a first draft for approval in concept at the Board’s December 2022 meeting.
Passing of the Gavel and thanksgiving for service
The Honorable Suzanne Van Wyk received the President’s gavel from outgoing President Connie Bookman. Judge Van Wyk’s term as President began on July 1, 2022. She announced her committee assignments and dates for Board meetings for FY 22-23 which were ratified by the Board.
President Bookman 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:
- Lara Tibbals, Esq.
- Greg Coleman, Esq.
- Stephen Senn, Immediate Past President
- Dori Foster-Morales, Esq., Immediate Past President of The Florida Bar
- Judge Emerson Thompson, Endowment Trustee
- Samantha Vacciana, President, Florida Legal Services
The Board’s next scheduled meeting will be on September 9, 2022, in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Special thanks to Greenspoon Marder and Director Murray Silverstein for hosting the meeting.