APPALACHIAN SCHOOL OF LAW — Medical-Legal Partnership — $15,000
The Appalachian School of Law (ASL) has formed a Medical-Legal Partnership (MLP) with Ballad Health, a healthcare system serving southwest Virginia. The main goal of this project is to improve access to justice for medical patients with unmet legal needs and to strategically address healthcare needs attributable to or exacerbated by unmet legal needs. Under the supervision of licensed attorneys, ASL students will provide free legal services to Ballad’s low-income patients, giving the students an experiential learning opportunity. Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business will contribute business analytics to measure the program’s success.
BLUE RIDGE LEGAL SERVICES — Free Civil Legal Assistance to Low-Income Seniors — $25,000
Equal access to justice is one of the most fundamental and compelling needs of the older impoverished, particularly in matters that affect their shelter, medical care, autonomy, and basic subsistence. Low-income seniors often face large medical bills, and many fear destitution or the loss of their homes due to debts. Blue Ridge Legal Services (BRLS) is a nonprofit charitable legal aid program providing free civil legal assistance to low-income residents of the Shenandoah and Roanoke Valleys. As the only licensed provider of free civil legal assistance for low-income seniors in the region, without BRLS’s assistance, members of this endangered population with a civil legal issue would be effectively locked out of the justice system. Low-income senior citizens are often plagued with the growing threat of elder abuse. The number of reported cases is staggering, yet elder justice advocates maintain that for every reported case of elder abuse, five cases go unreported. This grant will enable BRLS to provide free legal assistance to 170 low-income seniors throughout the grant year. This project targets seniors with critical legal needs, focusing on elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation cases.
CAPITAL AREA IMMIGRANTS’ RIGHTS COALITION— Virginia Justice Project — $40,000
The Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition (CAIR) strives to ensure equal justice for all immigrant adults and children at risk of detention and deportation in the capital region and beyond through direct legal representation, know-your-rights presentations, impact litigation, advocacy, and the enlistment and training of intern attorneys. The Virginia Justice Project is at the forefront nationally of the provision of Padilla consultation work and criminal-immigration litigation, serving as a replicable model for litigation involving criminal-immigration issues. During the fifth year of the Virginia Justice Project, CAIR Coalition will train 300 Virginia criminal defense attorneys by conducting at least six trainings at various county or local bars, in addition to training and supporting the 315 Virginia public defender attorneys in the 25 public defender offices, and the 2,500 court-appointed attorneys in Virginia. This project will impact more than 3,000 indigent non-citizen Virginia residents involved in the criminal justice system.
CancerLINC — Access to Justice for Latino and Spanish-Speaking Cancer Patients in Central and Southside Virginia — $12,000
CancerLINC provides access to justice for low-income cancer patients who otherwise would not have attorneys, financial professionals, and others to help them address the non-medical problems they face as a result of their cancer diagnosis — medical debt, eviction, bankruptcy, employment insecurity, and similar challenges. Cancer is the leading cause of death among Hispanics and Latinos, but CancerLINC currently only has English language resources. This Virginia Law Foundation grant will enable CancerLINC to provide access to these services for underserved Latino cancer patients in Central and Southside Virginia by offering bilingual services and launching a targeted community outreach effort, increasing access to pro-bono legal and financial resources these patients could not afford otherwise.
CENTER FOR TEACHING THE RULE OF LAW — Rule of Law Project — $5,000
The Center for Teaching the Rule of Law provides a web-based resource and training center for teaching the rule as the foundation of civil societies everywhere. The Virginia Law Foundation Rule of Law Project, the center’s flagship program, pairs local bar association volunteers with middle and high school teachers to expand students’ knowledge and understanding of the Rule of Law. The goal is to change fundamentally the way the Rule of Law is taught and understood, establishing it as the first rung on the ladder of understanding democratic ideals, principles, and institutions. By offering Rule of Law seminars in underserved regions of the state, the center will continue to teach the teachers that it is their collective responsibility to protect the Rule of Law, to provide them with educational tools to engage students in real-world discussions of why the Rule of Law matters.
CHARLOTTESVILLE ALBEMARLE BAR ASSOCIATION — Pro Bono Program — $25,000
The Charlottesville Albemarle Bar Association (CABA) launched its volunteer lawyer program in 2019 and has surpassed the goal of placing more than 100 carefully vetted high-value pro bono cases within the first two years of operations, while relying on pro bono attorneys to significantly reduce the justice gap. Moreover, the Volunteer Lawyer Program meaningfully supported its community during the pandemic and was able to provide unexpected and critical legal support for high-risk community members in crisis. CABA seeks to expand the program, refine its structure, and produce a best practices manual that will enable bar associations to implement similar programs nationwide. With Virginia Law Foundation funding, CABA’s volunteer lawyer program will continue implementing, researching, testing, and developing a program on best practices for case evaluation, vetting, packaging, and matching with pro bono attorneys.
FAIRFAX LAW FOUNDATION — Northern Virginia Pro Bono Law Center Neighborhood Outreach Program — $25,000
The Northern Virginia Pro Bono Law Center of the Fairfax Law Foundation provides legal assistance to poverty and low-income residents through their neighborhood outreach program. Liaising with numerous long-standing community organizations broadens this program’s impact on those who would otherwise be denied access to legal service by enabling pro bono attorneys to meet with potential populations seeking legal aid in their facilities. This alleviates the burden on low-income clients, making it easier for them to meet with a pro bono attorney. The partnership between the law center and each of the neighborhood sites is crucial as it helps the neighborhood outreach program reach its intended beneficiaries: residents in the community who cannot afford or find civil legal services.
FREEKIND — Offramps Program — $40,000
Freekind, formerly known as the Virginia Beach Justice Initiative, exists to prevent human trafficking in this service area and support those it impacts on their journey to freedom. The Offramps program will improve access to justice for victims of human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation in the Virginia Beach region by strengthening criminal justice partnerships to more effectively identify victims who would otherwise go unidentified or misidentified, and by advocating for alternative sentencing through restorative services rather than increased incarceration. Freekind will provide criminal justice education to jail personnel, additional police departments, probation officers and Commonwealth’s attorneys. The main thrust of these efforts will be to develop and implement a “re-entry roadmap,” a written goal-oriented plan, empowering survivors and creating a smooth transition as they begin their journey to freedom. The Offramps Program will improve outcomes for at least 85% of their cases through reduced sentencing, recognition of time served, and sentencing to mandatory programs.
GEORGE MASON VETERANS LEGAL CLINIC — M-VETS — $20,000
The M-VETS mission is to provide free legal representation to active-duty members of the armed forces, veterans, and their dependent family members, while offering law students the opportunity to receive supervised, practical legal experience by advocating for those who serve or have served in United States military forces. Funding from the Virginia Law Foundation will enable M-VETS to expand its pro bono legal services to assist a greater number of veterans and service members by adding an additional full-time staff attorney to its current team of two staff attorneys. This will boost client hours by a third and the private market value of pro bono services offered to 1.5 million dollars over three years. As the veteran population in Virginia grows, the need for legal services will continue to increase. The addition of a third staff attorney will enable M-VETS to expand the range of services offered to include criminal defense and employment services, such as traffic or misdemeanor cases, enabling M-VETS to become a full-service clinic to deserving veterans and service members in the Northern Virginia area.
GREATER RICHMOND BAR FOUNDATION — Eviction Diversion Program — $35,000
Richmond has the second highest eviction rate in the United States, and the costs of the eviction crisis go beyond the loss of home and the fines and fees associated with the court proceedings. Loss of stable housing affects the tenant’s ability to find future housing and jobs, disrupts schooling for children, and negatively impacts the family’s mental and physical health. Evictions affect communities as well, increasing instability and contributing to long-term poverty and economic inequality. The mission of the Greater Richmond Bar Foundation (GRBF) is to expand access to justice through mobilizing, training, and connecting pro bono attorneys to clients in need of legal services in Central Virginia. The high demand for Eviction Diversion Program (EDP) services was magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic, which also required programming adjustments to comply with public health measures. The Virginia Law Foundation grant will enable GRBF to respond to the increase in demand during the crisis and will also fund a pilot EDP in Henrico County. In addition, GRBF will offer training sessions to support recruiting and development and host events to determine volunteer needs and priorities, develop a volunteer communications plan to share success stories, best practices, and other information.
JAZZ4JUSTICE — Jazz4Justice Concerts — $7,000
Jazz4Justice raises public awareness about the justice gap and music education by forming collaborative partnerships with the legal community, the business community, the music community, and universities throughout the state of Virginia. The “formula” for Jazz4Justice is simple. University, college, or community college music programs host a concert featuring jazz music. The local bar or bar foundation solicits sponsors and promotes the concert to the community. Proceeds from the event, minus expenses, are divided between the bar foundation/local legal aid and the music program. The legal aid or bar foundation gains funds for their pro bono work and increased public awareness of the justice gap, while the jazz program benefits from funds used towards student scholarships, instruments, or programs. The Virginia Law Foundation grant will enable Jazz4Justice to create additional educational content such as a video or livestream, focusing on the Rule of Law and the need for all Virginians to have access to justice.
JOHN MARSHALL CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL HISTORY & CIVICS — Justice in the Classroom 2.1 — $37,400
The John Marshall Center exists to educate the public about the Rule of Law under the Constitution through the life, character, and services of America’s great chief justice. Teachers in Virginia appreciate the John Marshall Center’s help in empowering them to educate students about the relationship between a fair and impartial judiciary and the Rule of Law. Justice in the Classroom and now POPCIV increase teacher access to high-quality, up-to-date teaching materials and decrease the amount of teacher time spent searching for materials and designing lessons. While improved education is valuable in its own right, civics education is essential for cultivating an informed and responsible citizenry. A primary feature of Justice in the Classroom 2.1 is achieving increased reach through distance learning opportunities. Broadening the subject matter covered and the way lessons are delivered creates new opportunities to reach new audiences.
JUST NEIGHBORS — Rural Immigration Legal Services Program — $25,000
The Just Neighbors Rural Immigration Legal Services Program provides high-quality immigration legal services to Virginia’s most vulnerable immigrants, asylees, and refugees — who were even more vulnerable because the ongoing pandemic disproportionately affects this population. Immigrants in rural areas of Virginia lack direct, immigration-focused services. Many have a pathway to legal status, which can only be achieved through competent legal representation. After the successful launch of the rural program in 2019, other districts and communities began reaching out to Just Neighbors, who then expanded the rural program to accept clients from the Northern Piedmont and Winchester areas, creating offices in Warrenton and Winchester. The community-clinic approach of Just Neighbors, which uses volunteers (virtual and in-person) throughout the casework, also connects community members with their immigrant neighbors, fostering mutual understanding among the community.
LEGAL AID SOCIETY OF ROANOKE VALLEY — Victim Services Program — $20,000
As the exclusive provider of free civil legal services to indigent victims of crime in the region, the Legal Aid Society of Roanoke Valley (LASRV) helps restore safety and security to victims of crime, particularly domestic violence, through education, legal advice and representation, and coordination of victim services. The Virginia Law Foundation’s support is crucial to continue the access-to-justice services of the Victim Services Program. Whether classified as elderly, disabled, immigrants, LBGTQ, or women, LASRV’s target populations are all impoverished, live in mostly rural areas, and cannot afford to hire a lawyer. The Victim Services Project assists victims of violence in underserved populations of southwestern Virginia. This grant will enable continued funding of two attorneys who have expertly developed, geared, and designed direct legal and educational services utilizing a well-honed multi-pronged strategy comprised of civil legal services to victims, collaboration with and leadership of 20-plus regional victim service providers, raising awareness of domestic violence through education and promotion of LASRV services.
LIBRARY OF VIRGINIA — 50th Anniversary of the 1971 Virginia Constitution Initiatives — $50,000
The Library of Virginia, founded in 1823, houses the most comprehensive collection of materials on Virginia government, history, and culture in the world. The year 2021 marks the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the current Virginia state constitution, a rare opportunity to reflect on the history and impact of each Virginia constitution on the Commonwealth’s citizens. The Virginia Law Foundation grant will support an interactive constitution of Virginia website, a traveling exhibition, and other public initiatives to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1971 Virginia constitution. This project will provide a deeper understanding of the social and legal events leading up to the 1971 constitution, its 50 years of service (the perfect and imperfect), and how this document can help anchor the Commonwealth as it confronts new challenges on the local and national stage.
MONTPELIER FOUNDATION — Formative Evaluation for Public Constitutional Education Programs — $25,000
Montpelier embraces its unique identity as a monument to James Madison, a museum of American history, and a center for constitutional education that engages the public with the enduring legacy of Madison’s most powerful idea: government by the people. As the lifelong home of James Madison, Father of the Constitution and architect of the Bill of Rights, Montpelier’s mission is to communicate Madison’s role in creating our modern, democratic government. To meet the continued challenge of improving constitutional literacy, Montpelier is launching a new ten-year Constitution Initiative, creating programs for teachers, students, and law enforcement officers, as well as the general public. The Virginia Law Foundation grant will support a Formative Evaluation of this comprehensive suite of Constitution Initiative programs, ranging from podcasts to facilitated discussions to immersive participatory archaeology programs, all laser-focused on increasing constitutional understanding and informed civic participation among the general public.
SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA LEGAL AID SOCIETY — Silence Isn’t Golden — $10,000
The mission of the Southwest Virginia Legal Aid Society (SVLAS) is to champion equal justice for low-income Virginians and to remedy the conditions that burden this community by providing high quality, courteous, and effective legal services and information to low-income families and individuals facing serious threats to their personal, economic, or family stability. Silence Isn’t Golden is a public education and awareness campaign focused on elder abuse, developed by SVLAS in collaboration with the Southwest Virginia Elder Justice Task Force. This grant will fund implementation of the initiative in 17 counties and four small cities in southwestern Virginia. Almost 22% of impoverished residents in this region are elderly (ages 65 and above). While most cases still go unreported – making research on incidence difficult – current data suggests that one in 10 seniors living at home suffers abuse, neglect, or exploitation. With a 65+ population of roughly 121,000 region-wide, 12,000 or more seniors are being abused or are highly at risk of such abuse.
VIRGINIA LAW SCHOOLS — Public Service Fellowships — $60,000
Supported by the Virginia Law Foundation since 1989, public service internships for first- and second-year law students help bring to light the importance of public interest and pro bono work. Each of Virginia’s eight American Bar Association-accredited law schools receives funding for public service internships during the summer. The students work under the supervision of an attorney. The work they complete varies widely, depending on the missions and caseloads of their host organizations. Some students gain experience working on individual client matters and others work on larger projects in an organization’s service area.
VIRGINIA LEGAL AID SOCIETY — Protecting Central Virginia’s Most Vulnerable — $25,000
COVID-19 and the related recession have placed significant additional pressures on families throughout the country. Virginia Legal Aid Society’s mission is to resolve the serious legal problems of low-income individuals, promote economic and family stability, reduce poverty through effective legal assistance, and champion equal justice. The ability of poor immigrants and minorities to protect themselves against eviction, domestic violence and predatory scams, and to obtain health care is made difficult by several barriers. This one-year pilot project, Protecting Central Virginia’s Most Vulnerable, will devote two part-time positions to education about rights and programs for underserved low-income immigrant and minority communities in Greater Lynchburg. VLAS will build a network of partner organizations to connect more immigrants and people of color to legal services to focus on housing stability, healthcare access, and personal safety for these vulnerable communities.
VIRGINIA POVERTY LAW CENTER — Annual Poverty Law Conference — $25,000
The Virginia Poverty Law Center (VPLC) breaks down systemic barriers that keep low-income Virginians in the cycle of poverty through advocacy, education, and litigation. The VPLC holds an annual conference to provide CLE-certified trainings on poverty law issues, including consumer, health, family, housing, and other areas of civil poverty law. This grant will help underwrite costs associated with the three-day conference, coupled with a one-time grant request to help purchase event software. This conference has become the premier poverty legal education conference in Virginia, with notable increases in registrations from the private bar, JAG Corps, and community advocates. Conference trainers for the approximately 40 sessions are considered experts in Virginia and, in many cases, nationally in their respective subject matter.
VIRGINIA SEXUAL & DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACTION ALLIANCE — Project for the Empowerment of Survivors — $15,000
The Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance’s Project for the Empowerment of Survivors (PES) bridges the justice gap faced by underserved Virginians who are survivors of sexual and domestic violence. The COVID-19 pandemic has touched everyone, but particularly survivors of violence. The “stay-at-home” orders resulted in a rise in intimate partner violence because stressors, such as job and wage loss, increased pressures with childcare and schooling, feelings of uncertainty and grief, magnified the strain on interpersonal relationships in close quarters. At the same time, domestic violence victims are facing exacerbated barriers to leaving such relationships. PES provides free confidential legal consultations for victims of sexual and domestic violence by on-staff legal advocates and attorneys, referrals to local legal aid organizations when appropriate, and legal funds to fill in the gaps when victims cannot qualify for legal aid services but are unable to afford legal representation.
VIRGINIA STATE BAR SENIOR LAWYERS CONFERENCE — Professionalism/Civility/Mentoring Video Series — $5,000
This video series is a collaborative project by the VSB Senior Lawyers Conference (SLC) and the Litigation Section to support optimal civility and professionalism in applying the Rule of Law in Virginia. The SLC will produce a series of video interviews with judges in Virginia at all levels in the state and federal court system, respected lawyers, experienced mentors, bar leaders, and law professors, about what they expect in the conduct of lawyers in court and elsewhere. These videos will not be a collection or compilation of “war stories,” but are intended to educate and deter lawyers from engaging in conduct that demeans the practice of law, is detrimental to a spirit of congeniality, fosters incivility in appearances before the court, creates unnecessary stress in the successful practice of law, or detracts from the public’s respect for the law, legal process, and the legal profession.
VIRGINIA VICTIM ASSISTANCE NETWORK — Legal Services Program — $12,500
Created in 1984, Virginia Victim Assistance Network (VVAN) is the Commonwealth’s statewide membership organization for victim/witness advocates and other victim services professionals. Launched in 2020, the Legal Services Program (LSP) is VVAN’s newest programmatic initiative. LSP provides victims of crime with access to legal services and promotes the realization of victims’ constitutional and statutory rights across Virginia. The Virginia Law Foundation grant will allow LSP to further expand its legal services, promote victims’ rights through training and technical assistance, and undertake cases with the potential to lead to systemic reform for victims. This project will also train victim/witness advocates, prosecutors, law enforcement officers, clerks, and attorneys, to better understand victim rights and their role in upholding victims’ rights.
WILLIAM & MARY LAW SCHOOL — Empowering Virginia’s Military Families in Special Education Law — $40,000
Founded in 2009, the PELE Clinic at William & Mary Law School provides both access-to-justice services for special education families and law-related education to law students and families through various courses and community trainings. In the Commonwealth of Virginia public schools alone, more than 175,000 K-12 students have disabilities, 8,500 of whom are military-connected. Federal law guarantees children with disabilities a free, appropriate public education, and their parents a right to meaningfully participate in developing their child’s individualized education program. Often, these rights are not upheld. The COVID-19 pandemic and the sudden pivot to virtual learning have further illuminated the inadequacy of special education curriculum, accommodations, and related services offered to students with disabilities, who are now falling further behind during these unprecedented times. With the Virginia Law Foundation’s support, the PELE Clinic is uniquely situated to target this specific problem, reducing burdens on military families and improving the educational experiences and life outcomes of military-connected children.
To learn more about our 2021 grant recipients, check out this video.
If you’d like to support our grants to these not-for-profit organizations that share our vision and three-pronged mission of increasing access to justice and promoting legal education and the Rule of Law, please consider donating at www.virginialawfoundation.org/donate. Checks may be sent to our address at 105 Whitewood Rd., Charlottesville, VA, 22901.
And if you’re considering a long-term legacy gift, please contact our Director of Development and Philanthropy, Katie Arata, at email@example.com.