I hope this newsletter finds you and your family healthy during this unique and unprecedented time. While there have been and will continue to be many challenges, I am buoyed by the resiliency and hard-working spirit of the organizations the Foundation supports.
In March, as the significance of the coronavirus became clear, the Foundation’s board of directors abated action on four grant programs to give staff time to reconsider and revise funding recommendations. This was necessary because we expect a substantial increase in legal needs related to COVID-19 and the resulting economic fallout, and a serious drop in the Federal Reserve’s interest rates, which affect IOTA funds.
In April, the board’s grants and executive committees reconvened (virtually) and approved the following grants:
• Administration of Justice
$298,913 – Innocence Project of Florida
$250,000 – Florida’s Children First
$233,415 – Legal Aid Service of Broward County
• Children’s Legal Services
$1,113,075 – Visit our grant database for details
• Pro Bono Transformation
$100,000 – CABA Pro Bono
$85,000 – Southern Legal Counsel
$83,500 – Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida
• Pro Bono Innovation
$25,000 – Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County
$25,000 – Jacksonville Area Legal Aid
$25,000 – Catholic Legal Services
$25,000 – Lee County Legal Aid Society
$19,000 – Legal Services of Greater Miami
The Foundation is working hard to provide resources for our grantees and to guide them through this crisis. Our board made the hard but right decision to reduce funding of some grants to divert that money to disaster grants to combat an all but certain increase in housing, domestic violence, reemployment and education cases related to COVID-19.
To close, I’d like to share a few pieces of positive news with you. The Legal Services Corporation, which funds seven of our state’s legal aid programs, will receive $50 million from the federal government to use toward legal aid issues related to the coronavirus.
Additionally, the Foundation received a $50,000 donation from The Florida Bar Family Law Section and a $10,000 donation from the Criminal Law Section. Both sections have been consistent supporters for many years, and we thank them for their generosity.
Floridians are fortunate to have a cohesive network of legal aid programs that share resources and work together to cover the entire state. Together, we will continue to provide legal aid and access to justice for everyone.