The Florida Bar Foundation Board of Directors held its quarterly meeting on Sept. 9, 2022, in Ft. Lauderdale. Director Murray Silverstein and his law firm Greenspoon Marder LLP graciously hosted the meeting as well as committee meetings and the Foundation’s annual board orientation the previous day. This saved the Foundation considerable expense and provided an opportunity for the Foundation to meet with several grantees in the area. The Foundation is most grateful to Mr. Silverstein and Greenspoon Marder LLP for the generosity and warm hospitality.
The major actions of the board and reports received during the meeting included:
Grantee Input and Comments regarding IOTA Trial Run Distribution
After introductions and approval of the Consent Agenda, the Board heard from Foundation grantee representatives who had been previously invited to attend the meeting either in person or via Zoom. By way of short background, the board allocated and distributed $1,250,000 pursuant to an “IOTA trial run.” This money was allocated in the Foundation’s FY 21-22 budget and was funded using the Foundation’s pre-existing reserves. The purpose of the exercise was to develop a prototype formula and distribution plan before actual distribution of post-amendment IOTA collections. The idea was to develop a framework for distribution, test it and seek further input from grantees afterward. (Grantees have been formally surveyed twice and contacted, collectively and individually, on a number of occasions, both formally and informally to provide thoughts, comments and suggestions.)
More than 30 grantee representatives attended and 11 provided input and comments to the Board over the course of a little more than one hour. The Foundation is most appreciative of the grantees’ continuous involvement and input throughout the process of its development of objective standards and a fair plan for the distribution of IOTA collections pursuant to the amended IOTA rule.
FY 22-23 Grant Allocation Approved
The Grants Allocation committee, chaired by director Maria Gonzalez, recommended, and the board approved, a total grant allocation of $10,425,792 for FY 22-23 (as reflected in the following chart:)
This amount reflects 85% of FY 21-22 IOTA collections (FY 21-22 IOTA collections were $9,498,805. 85% of that amount = $8,073,889) per the amended IOTA rule plus all net revenues received from other sources during the previous fiscal year. In addition, $132,328, the difference between the FY 21-22 projected operating budget and the projected amount of funds received from fundraising and development efforts other than IOTA collections, was added to the total allocation. This allowed the Foundation to increase the total amount of monies available for distribution while avoiding the use of existing reserves.
FY 22-23 Grant Awards
Committee Chair Maria Gonzales presented the Grants Committee’s Board Scenario Worksheet for FY 22-23, reflected below:
The total grant allocation amount for FY 22-23, based on current funds, was set at $10,425,792. Of this amount, $2,351,903 consists of non-IOTA collections earmarked for Administration of Justice Grant Program ($900,000), Children’s Legal Services Grant Program ($1 million), Law School Civil Clinics ($351,903) and Equal Justice Works Fellowships ($100,000).
Of the remaining $8,073,889, representing 85% of FY 21-22 IOTA collections, $468,663 was approved for the second payment of CY 2022 Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) loans with the balance of $7,605,226 to be distributed to qualified grantee organizations on or before December 31, 2022, per the amended IOTA rule.
The Board also approved, subject to actual IOTA collections in FY 22-23, funding LRAP loans in the total amount of $1 million (200 loans at $5,000 each), $200,000 for Limited Matching Funds Grant Program, and $200,000 for proposed Training/Technology Initiative which is currently under development and consideration by the Grants Committee.
Investment Committee Continues Work on Separate IOTA Investment Policy
The Investment Committee reported on its work relating to the development of a proposed Investment Policy for the separate investment of IOTA collections. It deferred first reading of the draft policy and recommended that the Foundation, on an interim basis, invest all post-amendment IOTA collections in short term government money market funds through the Foundation’s investment advisers pending further development and finalization of the policy. The Investment Committee’s recommendation was approved by the Board with instructions to Foundation staff to proceed.
Executive Committee IOTA Work Group Continues its Work
The Executive Committee IOTA Work Group, chaired by Past President Connie Bookman, reported that it continues with its work. At its Sept. 8 meeting, its ninth, the work group resolved and instructed Foundation staff to prepare a request for proposal for the identification of an advisor to help it determine the certification requirements under the amended IOTA rule, including the detailed breakdown of direct expenses required to administer the IOTA funds. Ms. Bookman further reported that it will consider all input received from all sources, including the grantees’ earlier comments to the board, and expects to have a final work plan submitted for approval in November.
Paul Doyle Children’s Advocacy Award Criteria Refined and Clarified
The Board approved refinements to the Paul Doyle Children’s Advocacy Award, which were recommended by an Ad Hoc Committee, chaired by First Vice President Roberto Pardo. Four refinements were approved:
1. The qualitative award criteria will be clarified and restated to emphasize that the award seeks to recognize high quality work that has protected or expanded or brought about positive change for children and their fundamental rights.
2. In order to encourage more work on behalf of children, applicant/nominee eligibility will be expanded to include any non-profit, philanthropic organization: a) whose mission is similar to or compatible with FBF’s mission; b) who is currently involved in projects directly affecting children’s issues; and c) who meet the award’s qualitative and other criteria.
3. To promote more diversity and encourage more work on behalf of children, project eligibility for the award will be clarified to make clear that should a program, project or applicant/nominee be awarded with a Doyle award, no further submissions involving the project for which an award was given will be allowed. Previous applicants/nominees or programs that have received an award are eligible to apply for recognition involving other projects.
4. In order to encourage more applications or nominations, a “newcomer’s” bonus of $1,000 will be awarded to any new applicant or nominee who is awarded a Doyle award. New applicant or nominee means a first-time applicant or nominee.
Staff was directed to implement the changes to the award’s criteria in time for this year’s call for applications and nominations for such award.
Foundation Embraces Collaboration with Young Lawyers Division
President Suzanne Van Wyk reported on her discussions with The Florida Bar Young Lawyer Division’s (YLD) leadership and announced her acceptance of the YLD’s gift of a bar review scholarship to be awarded in connection with the Foundation’s Law School Challenge. A robust discussion ensued regarding the importance of a strong partnership with Florida’s young lawyers and leaders. A motion to purchase a sponsorship of the YLD Section was made along with a motion to invite YLD to apply for membership on the Foundation’s board. Both motions passed, but afterward individual Directors volunteered to pay for the sponsorship out of their personal funds.
The Board’s next scheduled meeting will be on December 15-16, 2022, at Florida State University College of Law in Tallahassee, Florida.