by Jessica Brown
Since the undertaking of the Foundation’s strategic reset, pro bono work has become a priority. In hopes of increasing the number of pro bono hours reported by Florida attorneys, which dipped 4 percent last year, the Foundation will enable legal aid programs to boost their support of pro bono initiatives with new grants.
Four $25,000 Pro Bono Innovation grants and two $100,000 Pro Bono Transformation grants were approved by the Foundation’s board at its March meeting in Orlando. The grants use Bank of America settlement funds.
Modeled after the Legal Services Corporations’ Pro Bono grant program, the purpose of the new grants is to develop and enhance pro bono programs that serve low-income Floridians to improve the reach, quality, and effectiveness of the services clients receive.
Grant applicants were encouraged to collaborate with other programs and present innovative and replicable projects.
“As the need for civil legal services grows in Florida, the Foundation has a unique opportunity to lead a statewide push to improve pro bono,” said Claud Nelson, the Foundation’s pro bono program officer. “It is our hope that by identifying, tailoring, and implementing best practices from across the country, our grantees will be positioned to leverage limited resources to expand access to justice.”
Recipients of Innovation grants will focus on innovations serving unmet and well-defined client needs.
Transformation grant recipients will build comprehensive and effective pro bono systems through new applications of existing best practices.